Self Help,  Tips

Sleep Disorders

There are over 80* defined sleep disorders. Some of the most common are listed on this page. In general, if you have fairly good Sleep Hygiene, and find yourself often sleepy during the day, a consultation with a Sleep Physician and possibly a Sleep Study is warranted to better determine the cause of your sleepiness. And hopefully, to get you onto the path towards treatment.

OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA)-

One of the most common sleep disorders is OSA. This affects approximately 3-5% of the American Population. Obstructive Sleep Apnea means: there is a blockage (obstruction) that causes you to stop breathing (apnea) when you sleep.

A person is said to have OSA when they have a significant number of times during the night where they stop breathing, or breathe so shallowly that their brain wakes them from sleep to take a breath.

OSA is linked to a much higher chance for developing:

– a heart problem (such as A-Fib, CHF or a heart attack)

– a blood pressure problem (such as hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, or stroke)

– and diabetes

As well, patients often experience sexual performance problems, depression and poor memory/concentration when their OSA is left untreated.

CPAP – (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

This is commonly the first-line treatment of Sleep Apnea. This treatment requires the person to be able to wear a mask. There are 3 main styles of masks available: Nasal Mask, Nasal Pillows and Full-Face Mask. Each of these masks will have their own pros/cons. The most important feature of the mask is comfort.

The first 2 styles mentioned: the Nasal Mask and the Nasal Pillows require a person to be able to breathe all of their air through their nose while keeping their mouth closed. This is because CPAP uses Pressure to hold the airway open. If the person’s mouth is open, the air going into the nose will come right out the mouth and will not keep the upper airway open.

INSOMNIA

Insomnia is the inability to sleep. This complaint can vary largely from patient to patient. One person may find that 6 hours of sleep is plenty where another my find that 8 hours of sleep is not nearly enough.

Additionally, some people will complain about 3 awakenings during the night, and for another this could be considered normal.

Generally, trouble sleeping or Insomnia, is considered somewhat normal if it lasts less than 30 days and is associated with some stressful situation such as a new job, moving, a new baby or the loss of a loved one. During this stressful time, it may be helpful to take a sleep aide or research relaxation techniques.

If relaxation techniques are not helping, and this problem has persisted for over 30 days, it may be time to seek help. A sleep physician may schedule a sleep study to make sure there are no other problems causing your inability to get a good night’s sleep.

SLEEP HYGIENE –

Good sleep hygiene is one of the most important first steps to getting a good night sleep. Years ago, it was much easier to follow these simple steps, in today’s modern world it seems more of an effort. Regardless of how good or poor your current sleep habits are, following these simple steps are a great start to getting a good night’s rest.

  1. Plan to get about 8 hours of undisturbed sleep

– your bedroom should be slightly cool, quiet, calm and safe.

– it is recommended that you do not have a TV in your bedroom

– turn off the video games, turn off the cell phone – this is time to sleep

– young children need more than 8 hours of sleep

  1. Prepare to go to sleep

– about 30 minutes before your bedtime, you should start to relax

– do not talk about bills or stressful topics during this “unwind” time

– preferably, do not sit in front of a TV or Computer monitor. Even modern Smart Phones emit significant amounts of light. Light is a trigger to your body to wake up – not go to sleep.

– do not eat spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol or strenuously exercise just before bed.

iii. Go to bed at the same time each night –

– everyone will have some fluctuations where you have a late night, but if most of the time your bedtime and rise time are the same, it will help your body get into a natural rhythm of sleep.

These are general rules to improve your sleep. If you are doing your best to follow these and are still often tired, you may have a sleep problem. If you are not following these steps, any treatment may be less than fully effective.

RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME –

Some people complain about their legs bothering them at night. For some people, these sensations in the legs can cause them to have trouble falling asleep or even sitting comfortably.

Restless Legs Syndrome actually occurs or worsens at night time or near bedtime. This is one of the rare sleep disorders since it actually happens when the person is awake. There are 4 simple questions a sleep physician will ask you to determine if you have Restless Legs Syndrome. If you do, you can follow simple lifestyle changes to ease your discomfort, but if that is not enough, your doctor may be able to help with a prescription.

General health and wellbeing will play a big part of your night time routine and adjusting your diet accordingly can help. You can also look into which vitamins or supplements might help you, but don’t worry, you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg with good deals on vitamins and supplements available online making it a lot easier for you to get.

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