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Fix Your Sleep

We’ve already covered the whys of getting proper sleep in previous articles. But it’s not always possible to get the right amount of sleep due to various reasons. It’s important to figure out the underlying problem and fix it to the greatest extent possible and this is what we cover this week.

Fatigue is the first sign of a problem with one’s sleep, though we normally don’t conclude that we might have a sleeping disorder. The need to take sleeping pills or relaxants to induce sleep is the next stage. This is followed by irritability. This is followed by an urge to sleep at odd hours during the day. Concentration might be severely hit too.

Irregularities in one’s sleep indicate bad health, which may be due to a plethora of reasons.  There are a lot of known sleeping disorders identified by various health agencies. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of them or suppress them to a great extent. Some of them are:

1.    Insomnia

Contrary to common disbelief, insomnia is a sleeping disorder, not a condition. One of the most common sleeping complaints, insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Insomnia is often a symptom of another problem, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or an underlying health condition. However, most cases of insomnia can be cured with lifestyle changes you can make on your own—without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule to support your biological clock which is the unsung hero when it comes to getting proper sleep. Avoid naps during the day. Limit yourself to a maximum of 30 minutes during the day if necessary, since napping during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night. Using back lit devices such as mobile phones, iPad’s and laptops is a strict No. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine should be limited. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least eight hours before bed. Avoid drinking alcohol in the evening; while alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it interferes with the quality of your sleep.

2.    Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep due to the blockage of the upper airways, which interrupt your sleep. While one might not remember these awakenings, one might feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in productivity. Sleep apnea is serious and potentially life-threatening, but can be successfully treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a mask-like device that delivers a stream of air while you sleep. Losing weight, elevating the head of the bed, and sleeping on your side can also help in cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is responsible for quite a few deaths and consulting a doctor at the right time is the best way to beat it.

3.    Restless legs syndrome (RLS)

This sleeping disorder causes an almost irresistible urge to move one’s limbs when one is resting or lying down and is usually due to uncomfortable, tingly or creeping sensations. The sensations are triggered by rest and get worse at night. Repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep is often a symptom. The exact causes of RLS are still unknown. Researchers are of the opinion that the brain might be consuming iron abnormally leading to RLS. Putting soap under the sheets while sleeping is a mysterious remedy which has worked for numerous RLS patients. Sipping water throughout the day also helps, since one’s limbs remain hydrated. RLS is often misdiagnosed, but if diagnosed properly, it can be treated.

4.    Narcolepsy

Often confused with fatigue, Narcolepsy involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. Narcolepsy patients often complain of feeling sudden weakness or loss of control of muscles when laughing, angry, or experiencing other strong emotions. Narcolepsy can be cured with medicines which act as stimulants for the brain and body. Scheduled naps help reduce the effects of narcolepsy. Consuming healthy diets help patients stay alert since they remain energised during the day. It is important to contact your doctor at the earliest when suffering from narcolepsy since this disorder gravely affects concentration and productivity.

5.    Shift work sleeping problems

This occurs when your work schedule and your biological clock are out of sync. This forces you to work when your body is telling you to go to sleep, and sleep when your body is signaling you to wake. There are a numbers of things one can do to reduce the impact of shift work on sleep. Taking regular breaks and minimizing the frequency of shift changes is the first step. Try to regulate your sleep-wake cycle naturally by increasing light exposure at work and limiting light exposure when it’s time to sleep. We’ve already stressed the importance of sleep. While the disorders mentioned above are not exhaustive, these are the most common ones. Lack of sleep is serious not only for you, but also for others near you. Remedial action can be taken against insomnia as a symptom, but it is extremely important to visit a doctor if problems with sleep persist.

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cloudchowk is a healthcare software company based out of Delhi. Its software help medical labs, clinics and patients share information and collaborate seamlessly.

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