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Sleep Problems

What is a Sleeping Disorder

While sleep is absolutely essential for normal, healthy functioning, most people experience sleep problems, commonly referred to as insomnia, at some stage in their lives. Different people require different amounts of sleep. Some adults can routinely get by on as little as four hours sleep and others may require more than ten hours. Babies and very young children sleep for up to 16 hours per day.

As we get older we require less sleep and many people over 70 years of age can happily exist on six hours sleep per day

There are many sleeping disorders that are classified into three broad categories:

Insomnia : Lack of sleep
Sleep Apnoea : Interrupted sleep
Narcolepsy : Over-sleeping

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and it is this difficulty that is dealt with here. Lack of sleep occurs more often in women and in elderly people, but it sleep problems affect children and men also.

What Causes Sleep Problems ?

Sleep difficulties, or insomnia, have a variety of causes. Here are some of the main reasons why people have problems sleeping.

Anxiety, Stress& Worry

People that cannot turn off from issues that are causing them stress or anxiety often have difficulty getting to sleep. If something is preying on your mind, causing you to worry, it can be difficult to get off to sleep and even if you do it your sleep may be restless.

Effect of Ageing Can Cause Sleep Problems

As people get older they naturally require less sleep. This is because their lives become more sedentary and the body requires less rest. Snoozing during the day can also be a contributory factor as a lot of older people find that it is easy to catnap thereby reducing the need for sleep when they go to bed. If this is something that affects you it is important recognise this and not to fret or to be concerned. This may add to your sleeplessness at night.

Medical Reasons for Sleep Problems

There are a number of medical conditions that can lead to sleep disturbance. Some of these may also be age-related such as frequency of urination throughout the night. About two-thirds of pensioners need to visit the toilet at least once during the night. This is also something that affects pregnant women and getting back to sleep can be difficult which leads to frustration which, in turn, compounds the sleeping difficulty.

Any form of pain or physical disorder can run interference with your sleeping patterns. Many medical conditions including back pain, arthritis, broken limbs, headaches, and a frozen shoulder can all make falling asleep, and staying asleep, problematic. Some medications prescribed for other conditions may also cause restless sleep and if you suspect this may be a contributory factor to your disturbed sleep please consult with your GP.

Emotional or Relationship Problems as a Cause of Insomnia

Emotional or relationship problems are a common cause of sleep loss. Humans are highly emotional beings and any upset in our relationships can be very disruptive in our lives in general, and to our sleep patterns specifically. Bereavement and relationship breakdown are two primary causes of insomnia.

Environmental Issues that can Cause Difficulties Sleeping

Some people find it difficult to get restful sleep when in a strange bed or in a different environment. These are usually short term issues however it is important to pay attention to your bedroom environment and eliminate any factors that might disturb your sleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Problems

Sleeplessness affects almost everyone at some stage and if it is a short-lived episode that does not regularly occur then this is nothing about which to be concerned. However some people have problems distinguishing between one-off events or the beginnings of a sleep problem that may become chronic. If you can relate to some or all of the following symptoms you may be suffering from a sleep disorder:

  • Struggle to stay awake when watching TV, reading, driving, or in any seated situation
  • Feeling irritable and / or snoozy
  • Slowness of reaction to situations
  • Prone to emotional displays
  • feel the need to have a daily snooze
  • Lack concentration
  • Look tired or drained - your family or friends will point this out to you
  • Regularly use coffee, tea or products such as Red Bull, to give a boost throughout the day
  • How to Prevent Sleep Problems

    In many cases it is possible to avoid insomnia or sleep difficulties by making the right lifestyle choices and .

  • Curtail your consumption of stimulants such as tea, coffee, caffeine drinks, alcohol and cigarettes. Do not have any caffeine for eight hours before you go to bed and do not drink too much alcohol as it interferes with the quality of your sleep.
  • Take regular exercise but nothing too vigorous just before bedtime.
  • Turn off all electronic equipment about one hour before you go to bed. This includes the TV, video games, PC etc.
  • Try to avoid sleeping during the day and try to adhere to a regular bedtime routine.
  • Make sure that your bedroom is dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature. If your bedroom is too warm and you need to open a window try using ear plugs to keep. Heavy drapes and / or an eye mask help yo ensure total darkness.
  • Sleep Problems Treatment

    The best way to deal with sleep problems is to prevent them occurring a by adopting the prevention measures above. However some sleep disorders are actually symptoms of other underlying medical conditions. Usually the treatment for the underlying condition eventually addresses the associated sleeping problems.

    Sleeping pills have a role to play in chronic sleep disorder cases and for once-off events but should not be used continuously. The pills that are used to induce drowsiness are often the same as those used to relieve anxiety. The most common anxiety drugs and sleeping tablets are the benzodiazepines, which enhance the effect of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. The benzodiazepines used as sleeping pills include diazepam (Valium) and temazepam (Restoril). Sufferers may quickly develop a tolerance to this drugs and should not be used on a long term basis.

    How to Cure Sleep Problems

    There is generally no single cure for sleep problems. Prevention measures are the most realistic avenues for many people. Conventional medicine has made some advances in diagnosing the causes of, and treating sleep problems however very many people turn to complementary and alternative treatments. Highly successful therapies include Reiki, Kinesiology, CranioSacral, and Homeopathy. If you have tried conventional methods without finding an sleep problem cure there are a number of complementary therapists listed on this site that may have the solution to your skin difficulties.

    Disclaimer

    The material and information contained on this site is for educational purposes only. This information should not be interpreted as any form of medical advice. If you are experiencing any medical or health difficulties please consult with your doctor.

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