A sleep disorder, also known as somnipathy, is a medical problem that affects a person’s sleep habits. Some sleep problems are severe enough to impair physical, social, mental and emotional functions. Sleep disturbances may result from a variety of causes, including night terrors and teeth grinding (bruxism). Insomnia is a condition in which a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for no apparent reason.
Dysomnias, parasomnias, circadian rhythm sleep disorders including sleep timing and other disorders, including those induced by medical or psychological problems, are all types of sleep disorders. Insomnia (inability to fall and/or remain asleep) is the most common sleep disorder. Hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness at inconvenient times), Sleep apnea (pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing occur more often than usual during sleep), narcolepsy (overwhelming daytime drowsiness and abrupt attacks of sleep) and sleeping sickness, night terrors and sleepwalking are some of the others.
Types of Sleep
Sleep is important for all. Sleep is a fundamental human need that is essential for physical and mental health. There are two types of sleep that occur in a three-to-five-cycle pattern during the night:
- Rapid eye movement (REM) – Types of sleep when most dreaming occurs. This form of sleep is named after the rapid movement of your eyes. Your muscles are unable to move during REM sleep. In this stage of sleep, you can just move your eyes and breathe.
- Non-REM – This is the form of sleep in which you don’t dream and has three stages, the deepest of which is the most restful. Your body operates on a 24-hour cycle (circadian rhythm), which lets you decide when to sleep.
The amount of sleep we need varies with age and from person to person. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that most adults need seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. Based on a thorough analysis of the scientific literature, the Foundation updated its sleep guidelines in 2015.
Sleep deprivation affects all of us. On a typical school night, about 30% of adults get less than six hours of sleep, while only about 30% of high school students get at least eight hours of sleep. Sleep quality is rated “bad” or “just good” by approximately 35% of Americans.
|Age||Hours of Sleep|
|Infant (4-11 months)||12-15 hours|
|Toddler (1-2 years)||11-14 hours|
|Preschooler (3-5 years)||10-13 hours|
|School-age child (6-13 years)||9-11 hours|
|Teen (14-17 years)||8-10 hours|
|Young adult (18-25 years)||7-9 hours|
|Adult (26-64 years)||7-9 hours|
|Older adult (65+ years)||7-8 hours|
Sleep disorders Treatment
Treatment for sleep disorders varies according to the type and underlying cause of the problem. However, it typically involves a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes.
Sleeping tablets, allergy or cold medicine, melatonin supplements, medications for any underlying health problems, a breathing system or surgery (usually for sleep apnea) and a dental guard (usually for teeth grinding) are some of the medical treatments available for sleep disturbances
Lifestyle adjustments, particularly when combined with medical care, may significantly improve sleep quality. You may consider raising your consumption of vegetables and fish, lowering your sugar intake, exercising and stretching to alleviate stress and anxiety, cultivating and keeping to a daily sleeping schedule, drinking less water before bedtime, restricting your caffeine intake, particularly in the late afternoon or evening and reducing tobacco and alcohol usage, maintaining a healthy weight based on the doctor’s advice and consuming smaller low carbohydrate meals before bedtime.
Written by: Dr. Saima Tehseen and Fatima Sarfraz