Common Sleep Disorders: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Sleep disorders

Sleep is essential in many physiologic means including the processing of happenings and the uniting of memories. It is also clear that sleep is necessary, not only for humans but for almost all animals. Sleep disorders psychology is a complex process of repair and renewal for the body.

The body needs some form of comfort after a long day, that is, the normal breaks that a person takes are not enough to keep him or her healthy, but proper sleep for at least 6-8 hours is needed to keep oneself fit.

Now, most people often face sleep difficulties due to busy schedules or too much stress. It is normal in some people. But, if this continues on a daily basis for a lengthy time, seeking medical care is the best move. It can eventually interfere with daily activities. The feeling of tiredness, along with loss of energy and mood swings, can threaten your physical health.  

Sleep disorders psychology

Alt text= Sleep Disorders
Sleep Disorders

For those who are not able to sleep well at night, their next day is also full of dullness and fatigue. This occurs because our mind and body are not able to sleep well at night, then the next day the level of hormones in the body and brain remains disturbed.

Accordingly, about one out of every 7 people has a problem of not sleeping or not being able to sleep properly. The main reason for this can be not one but three types of social, mental, and physical. It depends on the situation of the individual as to why the problem of sleeping has surrounded him.

What causes the body to sleep?

A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats on each rotation of the Earth roughly every 24 hours. It can refer to any biological process that displays an endogenous, entrainable change of about 24 hours. 

Sleep disorders psychology

Disturbance of these cycles can make people sleepy, or dozing, at times people want to be awake. For example, travelers experience (Jet lag) when they cross time zones. When a New Yorker arrives in Australia at midnight Australia time, his or her body continues to operate (their biological clock) on New York time. It may take several days to reset a person’s biological clock. It depends upon how much changes by the time change. Different organ systems in the body recover at different paces.

There is proof that some factors of sleep are under genetic influence; a gene termed DEC2 is being investigated as causing people that maintain it to require only about 6 hours of sleep. Researchers have only begun to examine the genetics involvement in sleep.

What Happens During Non-REM Sleep?

There are three phases of non-REM sleep. Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. You go through all three phases before reaching REM sleep.

Stage 1: Your eyes are closed, but it’s easy to wake you up. This phase may last for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stage 2: You are in light sleep. Your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops. Your body is getting ready for deep sleep. This can last for 10-25 minutes.

Stages 3: This is the deep sleep stage. It’s harder to rouse you during this stage, and if someone woke you up, you would feel disoriented for a few minutes.

Sleep disorders psychology

During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

As you get older, you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also related to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show you still need as much sleep as when you were younger.

How long does it take to get REM sleep?

Sleep typically occurs in cycles that range from 90 to 120 minutes in length, with 4 to 5 cycles occurring during each night’s sleep. In the first half of the night, there is a transition from wakefulness into stage N1 sleep, then to stages N2, and N3. Stages N2 and N3 then reappear, followed by the first instance of REM sleep. Cycles of stage N2 and REM sleep alternate with each other for the second half of the night. Typically, there is a greater portion of N sleep in the first half of the night and REM sleep in the last portion of the night.

Why is REM sleep important?

REM sleep makes up less than 25% of total sleep time, and the reason for its importance is not fully known. Some reviews have indicated that REM sleep is necessary for the brain to preserve memories and maintain appropriate neurological connections.

What percentage of sleep should be deep sleep?

Deep (N3) sleep, as defined above, only accounts for about 20% of total sleep. The largest amount of deep sleep takes place in the first half of the night.

How much sleep does a person need?

People vary greatly in their need for sleep; there are no established standards to determine exactly how much sleep a person needs. Eight hours or more may be necessary for some people, while others may assume this to be too much sleep.

Sleep disorders psychology

Generally, average adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Newborn babies,  by contrast, sleep from 16 to 18 hours a day. Preschool-aged children generally sleep between 10 and 12 hours a day. Older, school-aged children and teens need at least 9 hours of sleep a night. Women in the first trimester of pregnancy need a few more hours of sleep than is usual for them.

Health experts and psychologists believe that sleeping disorders mostly catch people who are associated with a profession where there is less physical and mental fatigue. For example, people doing seating jobs in media, call centers, hospital staff, airlines, or other professions.

Does the amount of sleep we need change as we age?

Changes in the sleep cycle do occur with aging. Deep or slow-wave sleep (Stage N3) sleep declines as we age, while light sleep (Stage N1) increases with age, so that older adults may spend less time in the more refreshing stages of sleep and more time in lighter sleep. Also, older people wake up more easily from sleep. Older adults need less sleep as they get older, there is no scientific proof that older people need less sleep than younger adults.

What are signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation?

Feeling tired or drowsy at any time during the day is one symptom of not having enough sleep. Such as being able to fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down in the evening is a sign of a person who may be suffering from sleep deficiency. Microsleeps are short bursts of sleep in an otherwise awake person.

Sleep disorders psychology

Sleep-deprived people perform inadequately on tests such as driving simulators and tests of hand-eye coordination. Lack of sleep is also a sign of the effects of alcohol consumption. Especially caffeine and other stimulants cannot successfully overcome the drowsiness associated with sleep lack.

what causes sleep disorders?

Hence common causes of chronic insomnia include Stress. For instance concerns about work, school, health, finances, or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. Also, stressful life events or trauma may lead to insomnia.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. The condition can be short-term (acute) or can last a long time (chronic). It may also come and go. Acute insomnia lasts from 1 night to a few weeks. Insomnia is chronic when it happens at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea. The main types of sleep apnea are Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a nervous system disorder. You may feel as if your legs are exercising even though the rest of your body and mind are ready for sleep. It mostly happens at night or while lying down.

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder such as overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy often find it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time, regardless of the circumstances. Also, Narcolepsy can cause serious disruptions in your daily routine.

Sleep disorders psychology

Other sleep disorders include:

  • periodic limb movement
  • hypersomnia
  • sleepwalking
  • snoring
  • REM sleep behaviour disorder
  • nightmares
  • circadian rhythm disorders
  • night shift work sleep disorder

How to diagnose sleep problems?

Doctors use a number of different tests to assess sleep and determine whether a sleep disorder is present. A careful medical history and physical examination can help to identify the situation. Laboratory tests can help to diagnose any medical conditions that may cause sleep problems.

Specialized testing is recommended to help determine whether or not a person may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Some of the most common sleep tests include the following:

Polysomnography, is a sleep study, is a comprehensive test to diagnose sleep disorders. Polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate, and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements during the study.

MSLT Tests multiple sleep latency tests are done in a condition for excessive daytime sleepiness by measuring how quickly you fall asleep in a quiet environment during the day. Also known as a daytime nap study. The MSLT is the standard tool used to diagnose narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia.

The Epworth sleepiness scale is a questionnaire that is given to patients. The test asks individuals to rate how likely they would be to fall asleep in a number of situations (such as a passenger in a car, sitting quietly after lunch, etc).

How to treat sleep problems?

The treatment of sleep disorders depends upon the exact disorder and the degree of severity of the symptoms. Both medical and non-medical approaches are generally used in the treatment of sleep disorders. In some cases, such as sleep apnea, surgical treatments may be considered. In some patients, more than one type of sleep disorder may be present, requiring a combination of treatment considerations.

Sleep hygiene

Non-medical treatment options, such as sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the practice of behavioral habits that offer the maximum possibility for healthful and sound sleep. Good sleep hygiene practices include:

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol use before bedtime. Caffeine consumed early in the day can have an effect on the ability to fall asleep at night.
  • Have and adhere to a regular bedtime and waking schedule.
  • Maintain a comfortable sleep environment, including a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid watching television or using electronics with backlit screens in the bedroom.
  • Do not lie in bed awake, worrying about not sleeping (or anything else negative). This produces anxiety that can actually make the problem worse.
  • Get regular daily exercise or yoga it is recommended that individuals avoid exercise two hours prior to bedtime.

Other therapies

Behavioral therapies are successful for many people who suffer from insomnia. These therapies may consist of stimulus control measures, such as using the bed for sleeping and sex only and not for other activities such as reading or TV watching. 

Sleep restriction therapies are often used to help individuals avoid staying in bed too long and actually oversleeping after a night of insomnia.

Sleep aids (prescription and OTC)

Medications can be of value in treating some types of sleep disorders. However, since sedating medications typically have the potential for addiction and abuse, their use must be carefully supervised by a health care practitioner. Among the types of prescription drugs that have been prescribed for specific sleep disorders include:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Aleve PM, others). Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. Side effects might include daytime drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and urinary retention.
  • Doxylamine succinate (Unisom SleepTabs). Doxylamine is also a sedating antihistamine. Side effects are similar to those of diphenhydramine.
  • Melatonin. The hormone melatonin helps control your natural sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements might be helpful in treating jet lag or it may be reducing the time it takes to fall asleep although the effect is typically mild. Side effects can include headaches and daytime sleepiness.
  • Valerian. Supplements made from this plant are sometimes taken as sleep aids. Valerian generally doesn’t appear to cause side effects.

Important precautions

When using over-the-counter sleep aids, follow these steps:

  • Start with your doctor. Ask your doctor if the sleep aid might interact with other medications or underlying conditions, and what dosage to take.
  • Keep precautions in mind. Diphenhydramine and doxylamine aren’t recommended for people who have closed-angle glaucoma, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, severe liver disease, digestive system obstruction, or urinary retention. In addition, sleep aids pose risks for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and might pose risks to people over age 75, including an increased risk of strokes and dementia.
  • Take it one day at a time. Over-the-counter sleep aids are a temporary solution for insomnia. Do not use it for longer than two weeks.
  • Avoid alcohol. Never mix alcohol and sleep aids. Alcohol can increase the sedative effects of the medication.
  • Beware of side effects. Don’t drive or attempt other activities that require alertness while taking sleep aids.

How can I get a good night’s sleep?

Avoid sleeping during the day or evening, do not drink tea and coffee afternoon, fix bedtime and wake-up time, follow sleep hygiene before taking a bath. That is, sleeping after washing hands and wearing clean clothes.

Many people report that they lie awake at night worrying about problems or situations they will face during the coming day. In this case, it can be helpful to write a to-do list or a list of items to act upon the following day prior to bedtime, giving yourself permission to “let go” of these items during the night.

If possible, have dinner two hours before bedtime, do meditation and yoga for some time every day. Engaging yourself in physical activities can also help. If all these do not get relief, then you should visit a psychiatrist without wasting any time. So that the problem can be eliminated before it escalates.

If you are concerned about the quality of your sleep or if you have the symptoms of a sleep disorder, it is important to consult your health care practitioner. He or she can help you determine the cause of your sleep problem and recommend appropriate therapy.