Sleeping disorders are classified as the inability to fall asleep easily and includes disrupted sleeping patterns
The Human Sciences Research council revealed that one in 14 South Africans struggle with some sort of sleep disorder, which is linked to their overall mental health wellbeing.
*Amanda (not her real name) struggles most nights to fall asleep. She wakes up several times a night and struggles to get in a full night’s rest. After months of disturbed sleep, she describes waking up as physically painful and emotionally draining. As time passes she finds every day to be an upward battle against fatigue.
Slowly but surely, Insomnia’s tentacles grab a hold of her everyday life, making it hard to function normally. Because insomnia is linked to mental health, she finds it hard to concentrate throughout the day, to the point where she feels insomnia is controlling her life.
If 7% of the population struggles with sleeping disorders on a nightly basis, it is evident that there is a problem lurking on the horizon. Very few people are aware that they have a sleeping disorder and is able to receive the help needed to combat sleeping disorders. In this month’s blog post, we discuss sleeping disorders and we highlight how you can find help if you start noticing symptoms appear.
What kind of sleeping disorders are there?
It is common for people to think that insomnia is the only sleeping disorder. There are more to these disorders that meet the eye. Other sleeping disorders include, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy and sleep apnoea. All of which could negatively impact a person’s mental health as well as relationships, work, and friendships. Insufficient sleep may leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and extremely tired. Those with pre-existing mental health disorders are also at risk of worsening the symptoms.
This is a sleeping disorder classified by a person’s inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or when a person frequently wakes up before they should, cutting the REM cycle short. Typically, a person with insomnia will go to bed tired, and wake up tired. At some point during an adult’s life they experience acute insomnia that could last anywhere from a day to a few weeks.
Restless legs syndrome
This is a condition characterised as an irresistible urge to move one’s legs, typically just before you fall asleep. It occurs when laying or sitting down and generally disrupts a person’s sleeping patterns. RLS runs is hereditary, although some medical conditions are also associated with restless legs syndrome. Research has also found that RLS can stem from medication such as antidepressants or anti-nausea medication. Furthermore, caffeine, nicotine or alcohol can also be a cause or even make your symptoms worse.
This chronic neurological condition is characterised by intense daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep where the person falls asleep under irregular circumstances. People with narcolepsy often struggle to stay awake due to the disturbance in their sleep cycle and can cause serious disruption to a person’s daily life. Some patients with narcolepsy experience a loss of muscle tone, leaving them temporarily paralysed and asleep.
This condition is a potentially serious disorder where the person with sleep apnoea stops breathing for a while they sleep. People who snore at night often wake up feeling more tired than they were before going to bed. It should be noted that there are several types of sleep apnoea but the most common one is obstructive sleep apnoea. This can often be treated by making lifestyle changes or by using a breathing device during sleeping cycles.
This sleeping disorder involves a person making abnormal movements or displaying strange behaviours during sleep. It can include activities such as sleep walking, sleep eating or talking. Vivid nightmares or even teeth grinding can also be part of parasomnias symptoms.
What are the causes of sleeping disorders?
Although the causes of sleep disorders might differ, sleep disorders usually result in the disruption or exaggeration of the body’s natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness during the day.
5 factors of sleeping disorder causes include:
Drinking alcohol regularly can affect your REM cycle, leaving you tired and irritable.
Some medication can make it hard for the individual to get in a quality night’s sleep.
Narcolepsy is genetic so if you know it runs in your family, it is best to raise this with your medical practitioner.
Sleeping disorders become more common as people age. According to Cleveland Clinic, one-half of adults over 65 have a sleeping disorder. Researchers don’t know why, but they speculate that it is linked to medicine older adults commonly take.
Other mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression could be a cause for the lack of quality sleep.