Dyssomnia is a medical condition in which someone has trouble sleeping. It can also be referred to as a "sleep disorder." Sleep is crucial for you because it helps your body recharge from the day's activities. When you sleep, your muscles relax and get more oxygen, making them less prone to aches or pain. And while restful sleep won't make up for lack of exercise, it does help your body recover from a rigorous workout. There are many different types of dyssomnia, and the symptoms vary depending on the type that someone has. The most common types of dyssomnias are Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Dyssomnias are different from Insomnias because Dyssomnia is a medical condition, and Insomnias are usually psychological. Sleep is essential for you, and dyssomnias can lead to other problems such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. In this blog, we look at the different types, how to prevent, recognize and live for a better and healthier life free from sleep disorders.
Causes of Dyssomnia:
Dyssomnia is a sleep disorder that prevents an individual from getting the appropriate amount of restful, deep sleep. It can affect anyone at any age or stage in life but often appears in adolescence and adulthood. Causes for dyssomnia may include physical pain, emotional trauma, stress, anxiety disorders such as PTSD and depression, neurological dysfunction such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's disease, along with other factors like exposure to light before bedtime or lack of sunlight during the day, caffeine consumption, and alcohol use.
- Dyssomnia caused by a physical problem: Some people who have dyssomnias may find that an underlying medical disorder causes their condition. The most common example of this type of dyssomnia is sleep apnea, which occurs when the person's throat muscles relax to the point where they block airflow and stop breathing for some time.
- Dyssomnia caused by mental/psychological problems: Some people who have dyssomnias may find that their condition is caused by an underlying psychological disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others may simply be dealing with the pressures and stresses of life, so that it causes the person to have trouble sleeping without disturbance.
- Dyssomnia caused by lifestyle factors: For some people, their dyssomnias may result from bad habits or poor choices in terms of diet and exercise. They may also find that they struggle with insomnia because they work too many hours a day and several other factors. Dyssomnia often is caused by lack of sleep, which can be caused by many different things, such as work or stress. Another common cause is that people might not be getting enough physical activity. People who are looking to prevent dyssomnia should manage their stress levels and challenge themselves intellectually.
- Dyssomnia caused by medical conditions: For others, their dyssomnias may result from preexisting health problems like arthritis or heart disease that affect sleep patterns somehow. There are also instances where people have developed an anxiety disorder, usually related to something traumatic they experienced, causing trouble sleeping.
Type of Dyssomnia:
There are four main types of dyssomnia, including narcolepsy (a sudden need to sleep), insomnia (difficulty in falling or staying asleep), hypersomnia (too much sleepiness), and shift work disorder (changing day times with an abnormal sleeping pattern). These all have different symptoms that may include prolonged periods without restful deep sleep. These disorders may also cause impaired daytime functioning because of disrupted nighttime sleep patterns, such as feeling tired during the day while performing activities that require alertness, like driving a car or working at a desk job. The severity will vary from person to person depending on their individual tolerance for dealing with the lack of enough hours spent in deep sleep at night.
- Intrinsic dyssomnia: Intrinsic dyssomnia are the ones that have an internal cause. The potential causes of intrinsic dyssomnias are neurological disorders, mental illnesses as well as other factors like Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's disease.
- Extrinsic sleep disorders: There are outside reasons that can contribute to a person's inability to get enough hours of restful, deep sleep during the nighttime, including environmental and social factors.
- Circadian rhythm disorders: These dyssomnias are caused by the individual's abnormally functioning biological clock.
Different types of Intrinsic Dyssomnias:
There are different types of Intrinsic Dyssomnias, with symptoms varying on the type. You could get definitive results with lifestyle changes for some, but you would need treatment for others. Here are the different kinds of intrinsic dyssomnias to watch out for:
- Insomnia: Insomnia is one of the most common dyssomnias that people suffer from. People who experience insomnia have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and have difficulty maintaining sleep once they do fall into it. Insomnia can also have other symptoms such as feeling tired during day time despite getting enough hours spent sleeping at night. The severity will vary depending on individual tolerance for lack of adequate deep sleep each night.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea occurs when a person's airway becomes blocked while they are asleep. This leads to a reduction in oxygen levels which causes light sleep and then deep sleep, stopping breathing for up to 30 seconds at a time. Sleep apnea can be caused by the following factors: obesity (which puts pressure on throat muscles and airways), being overweight, large tonsils or adenoids, enlarged tongue blocking the back of the throat, making it hard to breathe while sleeping. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to more severe problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
- Narcolepsy: Narcoleptic episodes are sudden urges that make people fall into an instant state of REM sleep without any warning signs. Most common symptoms include feeling drowsy during the day and muscle weakness due to lack of deep sleep. There is no reversal available for narcolepsy, but it can be treated with medication and therapy to help manage symptoms.
- Sleepwalking: Sleepwalking occurs when a person gets out of bed during the middle of their sleep cycle without any memory or awareness. The individual will often act as if they were awake in public places such as their home kitchen or bathroom. This disorder typically happens at times where there is an increased risk of falling asleep (such as near midnight) which leads to less deep sleep due to frequent interruption
- Night Terrors: Night terrors occur in children under 12 years old and last between 15-30 minutes, according to National Sleep Foundation statistics. They happen most frequently around the time of a child's natural bedtime. Night terrors happen when the brain is in a deep sleep and experiences sudden fear or terror. It can be difficult for adults to comfort children during this trance-like state.
Types of Extrinsic Dyssomnias:
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS can cause extreme discomfort and an urge to move their legs to feel relief from itchy or painful sensations, usually felt at night when they should be sleeping. This is a disorder where a person experiences uncomfortable and often times unbearable feeling as if ants were crawling under their skin which hinders sleep. The severity varies depending on individual tolerance for lack of adequate deep sleep each night.
- Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSP): DSP is a circadian rhythm disorder in which the sufferer has difficulty with sleep initiation and is forced to wake up later than desired.
- Low Serotonin Levels Dyssomnia: Low serotonin levels have been found to contribute to excessive daytime napping, restless nights, and bouts of insomnia due to an interaction between low hormone levels and medications such as antidepressants prescribed for mood improvement.
- Nocturnal Eating Syndrome: Nocturnal eating syndrome can cause a person to eat at night while asleep and not remember it in the morning. This typically happens when someone has been dieting for a long time or has lost appetite due to underlying depression or anxiety disorder.
Types of Circadian Rhythm Disorders:
- Shift Work Sleep Disorder: This dyssomnia can be linked to a person who does shift work or rotating shifts on their job. The problem arises because their body clock doesn't adjust accordingly to daytime sleeping patterns when they should be awake all night.
- Jet Lag: Due to changes in travel from one time zone to another, jet lag can affect your sleep-wake cycle for several days after you arrive at your destination. Jet lag is a condition that can occur when the body has been subjected to an abrupt time change. It usually requires one or two days for each hour of difference in time zones, and symptoms are most severe during the early morning hours after arriving at their destination.
- Non 24 Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome (N24): The N24 is a circadian disorder in which one's biological clock doesn't stick to a 24-hour schedule. For example, a person would find their biological clock making them stay awake longer or stay asleep longer, leading to consistent shifts in the circadian rhythm. In normal circumstances, most people can wake up or go to sleep around the same time. But in N24, it keeps shifting earlier or later in the day, as the body doesn't adhere to the 24-hour circadian cycle.
- Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSP): DSP is a circadian rhythm disorder in which the sufferer has difficulty with sleep initiation and is forced to wake up later than desired. This type of dyssomnia is the opposite of Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder, which causes individuals to go to sleep and wake up early.
Difference between Dyssomnia and Parasomnia:
Dyssomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty in maintaining sleep, while parasomnias are disorders that occur during the various stages of sleep. For dyssomnia sufferers, symptoms include insomnia and nightmares as well. In contrast to Dyssomnia, Parasomnias can affect any time frame throughout the 24 hour day when you're asleep or awake- they don't have to manifest themselves only at night before bedtime like other types of dyssomnias do. This includes things such as Nightmares (repeatedly frightening dreams), Sleep Paralysis (being unable to move for several minutes after waking up or just before falling asleep), and REM Behavior Disorder (acting out one's dream on either nearby people or objects, or actually getting up and walking about).
Prevention and cure of Dyssomnias: Is it possible?
Dyssomnias are preventable. There are a few ways to help the sufferer of dyssomnia find relief, and many treatments can be provided to alleviate symptoms. First, it is essential to stay on a consistent sleep schedule, so your body knows when it's time for bed and when it's not. Those who suffer from dyssomnia should also exercise regularly because the aerobic activity will help them feel sleepy at night. Lastly, they can take medication such as benzodiazepines (like Valium) or stimulants like caffeine if necessary. These drugs may cause side effects but usually have fewer long-term consequences than other medications used to treat this disorder.
Here are some tips to prevent and deal with Dyssomnias:
- Get plenty of exercise in your day-to-day lifestyle, preferably aerobic. Exercise is the best regulator for hormones and improves blood oxygen leading to overall better working systems in your body.
- You can also try to sleep in a dark room with minimal noise and light. If you're still having issues, try reading a book or listening to the same soft music every night before going to bed. You could also consider using lavender oil or another calming scent before bed, as this might help ease your mind and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
- Stay on a regular sleep schedule for the best results. If one is experiencing problems maintaining their nightly routine, they may want to talk to their doctor about treatment options such as medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy. These treatments can be very effective in reducing symptoms and helping sufferers return to everyday life.
- Take medications that are prescribed by doctors if necessary. These drugs will not cure dyssomnia, but there have been cases where it has helped alleviate some of its effects. This should only happen under the supervision of medical professionals who know how much medication is safe for each individual's body type.
The most important thing you could do to prevent dyssomnias would be to maintain a strict sleep schedule.
What is Sleep Hygiene, and how can it help keep dyssomnia at bay?
Sleep hygiene includes the essential tips and habits that can help you sleep better.
Improving your sleep hygiene can help you avoid dyssomnia. It is essential to have a daily routine that will allow for an easier transition into the correct sleeping pattern. Consistency in the wake-up time and bedtime, sticking to a strict schedule, avoiding food with high caffeine content around bedtime (like coffee), and limiting alcohol intake are just some of the ways you can work on improving your sleep hygiene habits.
Best ways to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Sleep in a cool room with low noise and light levels. Insulate your bedroom from external noise by closing doors or using soundproofing materials, such as curtains or earplugs. Use heavy curtains/drapes to block out the light if you have trouble sleeping because of early morning sunlight seeping into your bedroom.
- Don't sleep on an uncomfortable bed, aging, or incompatible mattress. You can invest in a best quality mattress that is supportive of your body type and allows you to fall asleep quickly with little tossing and turning. Avoid too many pillows, making it challenging to move around at night without waking up more than necessary. If possible, try sleeping without any blankets so that they don't become tangled around limbs during the night while tossing and turning, as this leads to waking up more often.
- Create a strict schedule, including going in and out of bed at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you have trouble sleeping when lying in bed awake, get out of bed and do something relaxing until drowsiness sets in; this might be reading a book or listening to music with headphones that play soothing sounds, such as waves crashing against rocks. A word of caution: don't watch TV because it may keep you stimulated mentally long after you turn it off!
- Due to the blue spectrum effect on our brain at night, we may find it challenging to sleep better and longer. Keep your bedroom dark enough by using blackout curtains if needed; use heavy curtains over windows, so sunlight doesn't stream into the room during the morning hours, and keep your computer screen dim. If you absolutely have to use a screen and take things step by step, switch on the night mode (which activates a yellow-tint display) in your devices before bedtime.
- Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or days off from work. This will help maintain a sleep schedule that is in tune with natural daylight patterns to promote healthy circadian rhythms (your body's biological clock). In addition, it can make you more tired when bedtime comes around because of increased levels of melatonin overnight. Melatonin is the hormone used by our bodies for regulating normal sleeping and waking cycles (circadian rhythm) during twilight hours between dusk and dawn. It is also effective against insomnia symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep throughout the night, and early morning waking up.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon or evening, as they can disrupt sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system much longer than you might think; it takes up to six hours before half of what you consumed will be eliminated from your body. This means drinking one caffeinated beverage close to bedtime could make it difficult to fall asleep! Alcohol may seem like a sedative because people often experience fatigue after drinking too many alcoholic beverages. Still, it's crucial not to drink more than two drinks in total, as studies have shown this leads to fragmented sleep (and reduced REM) with less dreaming during nighttime sleep periods. It is always better to avoid it altogether near bedtime.
- Keep stress at bay by practicing stress reduction techniques, such as yoga or deep breathing. Nighttime unwinding practices can go a long way in helping you prevent dyssomnia. These stress management techniques not only help you deal with Dyssomnias, but live a better and happier life.
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes plenty of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables; avoid high-fat foods, which are common in fast-food restaurants as these have been linked to sleep disorders. In addition, research shows people who drink five or more cups of coffee per day were almost twice as likely to experience insomnia symptoms than those who drink less coffee. If you can't quit caffeine, try limiting consumption to one cup early in the morning before noon. Most importantly, stay away from sugary drinks like cold drinks and fruit juices because they increase heart rates and blood sugar (more than the daily requirement) after consumption, which can keep you awake at night.
Dyssomnia is a sleeping disorder that affects people of all ages. It can lead to insomnia, which will cause the individual to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night and may experience early morning waking up. To avoid this sleep condition, it's crucial for individuals who suffer from dyssomnia symptoms or those who are worried about developing them in the future practice to follow good sleep hygiene. With the right sleep environment, lifestyle, and proper sleep hygiene, you can keep it at bay and sleep high-quality sleep every day. You can look into a compatible bed mattress to use with our SleepID tool to get the best mattress recommendations as per your lifestyle and body. If you are battling chronic conditions and body pains, it is always better to get a doctors’ prescription before dealing with Dyssomnia in certain ways or buying a new mattress.