We all know that a healthy diet and exercise leads to a healthy life. But getting enough restful sleep is a critical issue to health. Sleep allows the body to rest and restore energy. At the same time, physiological and psychological functions also affect physical and mental health. Quantity and quality of sleep help to maintain optimal alertness while awake. Although the sleep requirement of an individual varies, an adult should sleep eight hours a day. Whereas children need more than 8 hours of sleep.
Nowadays, due to various reasons, many people do not get an adequate amount of sleep and become chronically sleep-deprived. Few suffer from sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and other illnesses. Normally sleep patterns can be disrupted by many factors including:
- Stressful life
- Family demands or an over-busy schedule
- Hormonal influences and changes in core body temperature. (during menstruation, menopause, and ovulation.
- Intrinsic sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome
- Depression and anxiety
More than 70 sleep disorders have been found. Five of the most common disorders are:
- Insomnia: It is the most common sleeping disorder. It can be defined as difficulty in falling asleep or difficulty in maintaining sleep throughout the night. Other symptoms of insomnia include waking too early and unable to fall back to sleep due to not experiencing a refreshing night’s sleep. Results tiredness, trouble in concentration, depression, and sleep apnoea.
- Narcolepsy: In this condition during the day, the patient has sudden sleep attacks. Narcolepsy is common in both genders of any age. It is first noticed in adolescence and young adulthood. Certain pieces of evidence say that narcolepsy may run in the family generation. Recent researches have shown that narcolepsy is due to a lack of a chemical in the brain known as hypo-cretin. Other associated symptoms of Narcolepsy are: A) Cataplexy B) Sleep Paralysis C) Hypnagogic Hallucinations, etc.
- Sleep-Apnoea: Sleep Apnoea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. It has repetitive brief interruptions of airflow while sleeping. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is the most common form. It occurs when airflow is blocked due to excessive tissues/enlarged tonsils/large uvula, in the airway which makes it narrow. It disturbs the airflow in and out of the mouth and nose, and difficult to breathe. This can result in heavy snoring, pause in airflow, low oxygen level, increased level of carbon dioxide. It occurs in all age groups and both sexes but most common in men. Although not everyone who snores has sleep apnoea.
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS is a sleep disorder with an unpleasant sensation in arms and legs. The sensation often described as creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling, and painful burning. These symptoms are prominent when lying down or sitting for a prolonged time duration. Besides arms and legs, this sensation may occur in the genital region such as the face and the torso. It produces the urge to move your legs and making sleep almost impossible. RLS symptoms may improve than worsen and improve again over the years. Mostly RLS also has related sleep disorder called Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD).
- Circadian Rhythm Disorder: Circadian Rhythm Disorder refers to a certain group of conditions that disrupts the body’s natural psychological and biological rhythm. It is commonly found in the shift workers (who usually work for non-traditional hours) who are vulnerable to these conditions. Besides this, it is commonly found infrequent travellers who experience jet lag, irregular sleep patterns, teenagers, and people with a genetic predisposition for this.
- Sleep problems lead to a condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AF). A part of the heart Sinus node sends electrical impulses that regulate the pumping activity of the heart. AF creates disturbances in these impulses that lead to stroke. A debilitating condition that can affect people’s ability to speak, eat, and interact.
- Due to sleep-apnoea, abnormal heart rhythms affect breathing hence low oxygen level in blood.
- Poor Alignment to the natural circadian rhythm (body’s clock-cycle) is also a great risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Auriom Kar, Consultant – Cardiologist-Adult | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Barasat