Sleeping problems can be hard to get rid of but can disrupt our entire lives. Moreover, sleep problems arise more out of a bad lifestyle rather than genetic or internal problems. There are plenty of sleep problems people face and their lifestyle plays a major role in it. However important your work and leisure time is, it is essential that you do not miss out on sleep. Sleep is the single most important part of your day to recover from all the stress and exhaustion. With sedentary jobs and the current pandemic, stress can be a huge factor affecting your sleep. To prevent and cure any sleep problems it is important to understand how they occur. This helps in not only prevention but the cure of any sleep condition and help you sleep a sound sleep throughout the night.
Common Cleep Problems:
Sleep problems can range from lifestyle induced problems to problems that arise out of genetics or internal issues. You can usually fix lifestyle sleep problems in a matter of weeks or months, usually without medication. But, serious sleep problems that are linked to the brain, heart or other comorbidities need a serious approach and more care. Here are some common sleep problems:
- Insomnia or unable to sleep: Insomnia is the inability of a person to go to sleep without special efforts. In worse cases, it can lead to several days without sleep and it leads to both physical and mental problems. Moreover, it can be a long-term condition as well as making a person lack healthy sleep and develop serious medical issues. It is usually an issue that arises out of lifestyle unhealthy habits. Insomnia has a variety of underlying causes or factors that lead to chronic insomnia.
It is mostly a mental condition that is a result of a sedentary and stressful lifestyle combined with anxiety, medication as well as lack of exercise. We’ve all experienced episodes of being unable to sleep because we’re just too active or stressed out to slip into the relaxed state of mind of sleep. But, after a certain point, it can become a chronic condition leading to serious sleep deprivation, depression, lethargy, cardiovascular and mental illnesses.
If you do not/are not able to get proper sleep because of your lifestyle/work or medical conditions, the sooner you diagnose and fix it the better. Say, for example, if you are unable to sleep in the short term, it is best to keep away from any screen for the last hour before sleep. Additionally, exercise can make your brain need to sleep at the end of the day. Though it is best to keep away from working out before sleep, as it activates the brain, integrating exercise in your life can go a long way at giving quality sleep. Also, a quality pillow or mattress can help in getting some quality sleep and establishing the comfort that your mind needs to sleep.
- Snoring and sleep apnea: Snoring is a problem that one doesn’t realize they have until someone tells them. One cannot hear their own snoring usually, but it disrupts the sleep of others nearby. It is usually a common condition in overweight people, but can also occur due to anatomical issues in the throat, nose and alcohol consumption. Your tongue usually relaxes enough to partially block the airway for breathing. The same applies to sleep apnea that is a much more serious condition than snoring.
Sleep apnea causes big periods of stopping breathing intake during sleep. Although you can breathe in a highly disturbed and disruptive manner, serious cases can lead to death. Moreover, sleep apnea also causes snoring as a side effect. It can lead to sleep deprivation, less blood oxygen leading to organ damage among other serious issues.
To prevent and fix snoring or sleep apnea, you should first consider losing weight. Apart from lifestyle changes, snoring or sleep apnea requires the use of CPAP devices or mouth or nasal tubes to correct. Moreover, in a worst-case scenario, you may even need surgery to correct your throat orientation or correct anatomical features.
- Irregular sleep patterns: When talking about sleep, it is important to also focus on the importance of a healthy sleeping pattern. Often because of our jobs, kids, and lifestyle factors, we tend to sleep and wake up at odd times. This is a big problem when it is in addition to disruptive sleep as it leads to bad mental and physical health. Moreover, irregular sleep patterns is a serious issue that can also lead to insomnia, heart problems as well as other issues. You may go to sleep late and end up waking early or vice versa. This not only disrupts your lifestyle and mental peace but your body clock as well.
Getting rid of irregular sleep patterns requires and needs special dedication. If not controlled in time, it can spiral out of control and lead to other health issues such as anxiety, lethargy, chronic stress as well as other sleep conditions. You may feel sleepy during the day and it may affect your job performance and lead to a variety of personal problems as well. Getting 8 hours of healthy sleep is a must for most adults, and sticking to a sleeping pattern is a healthy habit and a must.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS): As sleep mostly degrades and affects the brain, it can lead to some nervous issues as well. This translates to the non-stop urge or involuntary movement of your legs at night. You can usually feel it when sitting or nervous, but if you develop it as a clinical disorder it is a serious concern. This is because you start to move your legs or even arms at night when sitting and even sleeping. Since it is more of a nervous system issue, you can get rid of it with distractions and self-care. Using cold compresses, distracting yourself to be engaged in something intense or walking about the house or some leg workout exercises can help.
- Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is more a result of irregular sleep patterns in your lifestyle. It is a non-controllable urge to sleep during the daytime even during productive hours. You may feel sudden urges to sleep when at work, doing chores as eyes feel heavier. Moreover, you cannot control if you want to feel asleep and you may even experience an episode when driving or doing other activities. You cannot cure it as of now, but the best way to prevent it is to stick to a regular sleep pattern.
- Shift work sleep disorder: If you work in rotational shifts, or frequently work different shifts at work, your body clock goes haywire. Our body functions in its own cycle, and it revolves around the time we sleep. Your metabolism, productive and active hours, as well as other body functions rely on the time you go to sleep. But, due to an uncertain lifestyle where your body clock faces huge changes in active and sleep hours, it can lead to shift work sleep disorder. That is, your body may feel sleepy, and your work hours are starting because of preconditioning of the body clock during say a previous week’s different work shift.
Shift work sleep disorder is more of a lifestyle sleep condition rather than a medical issue. But, it can lead to other medical issues with your metabolism, blood pressure, weight gain, irritation, anxiety among other issues. We all need a healthy and uninterrupted sleep cycle, and you should stick to one pattern otherwise it can lead to health issues. A comfortable pillow or mattress to welcome you to sleep also goes a long way.
- Jet Lag: Jet lag is an issue that is more relates to irregular sleep pattern or can even be seen as a shift work sleep disorder. However, unless you are in flights several times a week it is nothing serious that you cannot take care of. Moreover, jet lag is a result of changing time zones as a result of flying. You can end leave from a city in the day and end up in your destination during the day time due to time zones and the earth’s rotation.
This leaves you with the urge to sleep during the day and you end up having to balance/adjust to the new time zone. The best thing to take care of jet lag is to use power naps in your flight but never to sleep during the day at your destination. This is because your body clock needs to adjust to the new sense of day and night cycle. The best way to treat jet lag during constant travelling is to use eye masks to sleep during light conditions if the need arises. Additionally, a pillow or comfortable mattress at your destination can help your body adjust and sleep cycle take time to adjust.
Best Tips to Avoid Sleep Disorders:
As most sleep disorders are lifestyle issues and relate to the mental health and physical health, we can prevent and cure them ourselves. The best way to treat sleep common sleep disorders is to take care of your body without jumping to the pills any chance you get. If you are unable to sleep, or have other sleep conditions, rather than stick to sleeping pills, try these methods for a healthier and sustainable approach:
- Exercise: Exercise is the single most important lifestyle factor that induces healthy sleep. Your body puts in energy and exercise helps you get rid of toxins, burns fat, helps the brain release dopamine and serotonin. All these changes help release what your body needs and push out any unhealthy internal factors holding you back from revitalizing sleep. Moreover, it is best to get your workout during the day or as soon as you wake up to maximize your energy levels and go about your day without putting it off or feeling sleepy. Working out has numerous benefits, and your body needs healthy sleep just as much it needs exercise. A healthy balance can help get rid of any sleep problem at bay.
- Bedtime routine: Due to our schedules and the technology available we tend to stay active and keep our mind active till we fall asleep from exhaustion. But, a dedicated bedtime routine to tell your body it is time to sleep rather than passing out of exhaustion is the healthier way. A great way to build a bedtime routine is to avoid all screens as the blue light spectrum in the light keeps your mind active. Use your devices in night mode with a yellow tint and keep any screen away from your eyes in the last hour of your sleep. A good pillow in addition to a firm and comfortable mattress and any relaxing bedtime technique can help in developing a healthy bedtime routine.
- Food: Food plays just as much of an important role to help you get to sleep. Alcohol, fatty foods, or high energy foods before sleep is a big no if you want healthy and non-disturbed sleep. A glass of milk with some fruits or low-calorie fat and sugar free food can help get rid of any hunger pangs or midnight cravings. You can go to bed with a calm stomach and a healthy mind that doesn’t crave water or food in the middle of the night.
The best way to work on your sleep is self-care and improve your lifestyle. Unless it is a serious condition like severe sleep apnea, or chronic insomnia, it doesn’t need any medicine or special medical care. Exercise, healthy food, with a great lifestyle can help you sleep and maintain a healthy and non-disruptive sleep. Moreover, a good pillow or a comfortable sleeping bed mattress is a must if you want to avoid long term neck and back problems. You can improve your sleeping pattern with self-care and support from your friends and family. Stress and sedentary lifestyle is what hurts our sleep our most and it is up to us to take special care during these testing times.