Sleep and related problems
Life and sleep
Human beings sleep for quarter to a third of their lives; hence sleep forms a pretty large expense of time of one’s existence. Sleep and dreams have attracted interest since history but the importance of sleep is only becoming evident today, with the emergence of negative consequences of lack of good sleep. Sleep is extremely critical, with regard to its quality as well as quantity.
Usually 6 to 8 hours of restful sleep in adults is sufficient. Sleep provides rest, helps replenish the depleted neurotransmitters, enhances memory, improves cognitive abilities; and is essential for growth and development of the body and the brain. Children who sleep less have stunted growth and limited intelligence as compared to those who sleep better (given the same amount of hard work they put in) and have worse moods and behavior. Adults with inadequate sleep have mood swings, increased chances of depression, and early onset of dementia. The beneficial effects of sleep are endless.
Sleep problems include lack of adequate sleep, excessive sleeping, as well as disrupted sleep wake schedules. At the same time, quality of sleep also plays a significant role. Sleep can be disrupted by bad dreams (nightmares), sudden episodes of terror that are accompanied by confusion (night terrors), sleep walking, and sleep talking (stage IV sleep disorders) or other physical disturbances of sleep like snoring and breathing problems, sleep related gastro-oesophageal reflux and acidity; or sometimes sleep attributable asthma. Sometimes one may exhibit movements of the legs (restless leg syndrome) or sudden violent movements (sleep movement disorder), which may be correspondent with nightmares. There are reports of extreme physical injuries as well as falls from the bed and fractures, due to these movements. These are as severe as any physical illness and must not be neglected.
This is seriously serious
Sleep is an active phenomenon, not simply a period of rest. Sleep disorders are caused due to specific neurotransmitter changes in the brain. The body requires a set mechanism and normalcy to sleep comfortably. Being unable to sleep restfully can be equated with being unable to breathe normally. There are also environmental and emotional factors that interplay here and they all need attention. Sleep problems must never be underestimated as they may point to other medical or psychiatric conditions. Thyroid derangement, diabetes, hormonal problems; all involve sleep disturbances, as do anxiety, psychoses, depression and mood disorders. They all deserve attention and correction.
If we are alive then we should live right. And if we need to spend a big chunk of time sleeping then we ought to sleep right. We try to be as hygienic as possible generally in life. Sleep hygiene comprises of simple (like all other hygiene measures such as washing your hands to remove the bacteria for instance) tips that make your sleep clean and sound. These ought to be followed as regularly as brushing your teeth. They highlight the role of diet, exercise, television, alcohol, smoking and other influencers on sleep and ways to modify them to sleep better. It’s time to get sleep hygienic.
Take steps now
At MINDFRAMES we have structured sleep questionnaires to trace the areas of deficit in sleep. Physical tests, study of the brain’s electrical activity (EEG) helps pinpoint the root of the problem and accordingly appropriate management can be initiated. Non-medicinal tips and techniques (sleep hygiene training) are offered to improve the quality of sleep. Also, a short course medication can be initiated as and when the need arises. Sleep is important for normalcy in life and should be given its due respect.