Most of us might struggle during our sleep whether it be with the amount, intensity, or quality of it. If these difficulties seem to be persistent in your life and have an effect on your functioning, there’s a chance it’s a sleep disorder. Get to know what sleep disorders are and their types below!
How Can We Define Sleep Disorders?
Sleep disorders, also known as sleep-wake disorders, can be explained as the difficulties that happen during the process of sleeping. These problems revolve around the quality, timing, and amount of sleep you have which can result in distress and impairment in functioning the next day if not attended to!
Types of Sleep Disorders
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and is described as the inability to fall asleep easily. You might spend hours doing all your night-time routines only to end up wrestling back and forth in your sleep and still find it difficult to doze off. You might also wake up frequently during your sleep or wake up very early although you didn’t get enough hours in. Insomnia can be either acute (short term) or chronic (long term) depending on how much it happens (frequency) and how much it affects you (intensity).
Did you Know That...
There are common difficulties that happen during our sleep that we don’t consider as disorders. For instance, walking, talking, and making sounds during our sleep are three different types of sleep disorders! To add, I bet you’ve experienced days where you had all the hours of peaceful sleep (or even surpassed the number of required hours) and still ended up feeling tired and drowsy the next day. Well, this is also considered a type of sleeping disorder! Now let’s get on with labelling them!
Common, Labeled Sleep Disorders
The formal way of naming this disorder would be as somnambulism, but we all know it as “sleepwalking”. This disorder is characterized by a multitude of behaviors that originate during deep sleep periods (NREM) where one might perform complex behaviors while still “mostly” asleep. Exactly like we see in movies, a person here might get out of bed, go to the kitchen, open the fridge, and simply walk back to their room. They might even continuously start doing complex tasks like moving things around or even risky ones like trying to dive a car! And after all the sleepwalking incidents occur, the next day the person has no recollection of any of the episodes that happen when they wake up.
Formally, it’s known as somniloquy, but we might know it as the act of talking during our sleep without being awake “sleep talking”. This can range from complicated dialogues to complete gibberish and mumbling and unlike sleepwalking, it’s rare, short-lived, and not dangerous. Exactly like the examples we see around us; a person here might start having conversations as if there is someone on the other end of the line. In other cases, the speech itself was incomprehensible, following certain on and on mumbling. After waking up, the person is unaware they were talking in their sleep and typically has no recollection of the episode.
Generally, snoring is considered common and may be harmless, but if it reaches the point where you feel your throat is closing up then it might be something else. Sleep apnea is described as a condition where breathing is cut off for a few seconds during sleep. A person here might experience loud snoring, brief pauses in breathing, and recurrent gasping for air. This is because oxygen levels drop, heart rate increases, and sleep becomes disrupted as the person momentarily wakes up to grasp air.
It’s frightening. Imagine yourself fast asleep and struggling to wake up, but it’s not that “I don’t want to get out of bed now” struggle. It’s more so as if you are unable to move; you feel that something is pinning you down and you can’t seem to force yourself to open your eyes and wake up. It can even go as far as hallucinating that someone standing over you, trying to hurt you. This usually lasts for a few minutes (can feel like hours), but knowing what’s going on can make it less scary when you experience paralysis. Knowing that this isn’t real life and is temporary.
The four previous sleep disorders: sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep apnea, and sleep paralysis are all examples that fall under “parasomnias” which include types of disruptive sleep- related disorders of abnormal sleep behaviors.
What happens when a client comes in with a complaint about their sleep?
1. Understanding the problem
Professionals begin to decipher the client’s meaning behind having “sleep problems”. It’s important to ask questions to begin understanding how the client explains his/her problems, what they think the cause of them are, and if they are aware of the magnitude of their sleep disorder (if there is any). Sometimes clients might attribute problems in their sleep with having a bad day at work, feeling stressed, or that it’s something normal. And although bad days and negative emotions can indeed cause sleep struggles, other times the issue requires more attention because of its magnitude.
2. Assessments required
After a series of in-depth questions about the case at hand, appropriate measures follow. This all depends on the client’s awareness of their problem and the length required to find a solution. Depending on the symptoms mentioned during the questioning phase, an assessment or test is given to see if it fits the criteria of complain.
How Can Sleep Affect Us in Everyday Life?
The importance of sleep has long been talked about. There’s a reason why the phrase “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” has been used when witnessing someone being cranky, off, or not in the mood. We automatically link how someone looks, feels, and acts to the amount and quality of sleep they had. It shows! And indeed, dependent on one another. The fact is, they both have an effect on each other, meaning that sleep problems can lead to changes in mental health and mental health conditions can worsen problems with sleep. In bold, clear terms, sleep can affect the development of or worsen (to name a few):
- Anxiety disorders
- Stress levels
- Mood swings
- Eating habits
- Bipolar disorders
Sleep can also have an effect on your body’s:
- Central nervous system (main information highway)
- Immune system (developing antibodies to fight off invaders)
- Digestive system (responsible for the hormones: leptin and ghrelin which control feelings of hunger and fullness) lack of sleep can also make you feel too tired, gain weight, and release less insulin.
- Respiratory system (can be affected by sleep apnea- breathing)
- Cardiovascular system (lack of sleep may make one more prone to develop cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes)
- Endocrine system (responsible for growth hormone production)
A Word From O7 Therapy
Having and maintaining a good quality sleep should be on the top of our lists! A healthy one can go a long way in having a well-balanced life. You can wake up feeling better, have the energy needed to continue on with your day, and set a scheduled plan to follow later on. It’s also important to be aware of any changes or discomfort that happens in your sleeping process. To immediately seek help with you feel that your sleep is causing you discomfort in attending to the simplest tasks in your life. Remember that symptoms are treatable, so it doesn’t have to mean that you have a sleep disorder. Maybe they’re just minor problems that need attention and adjustment. If you feel that you need help, (it’s okay) don’t be afraid to seek it and wait for your life to get better!