Millions of people suffer from sleep problems, also called somniopathies. These disorders can range from occasional bouts of insomnia to serious chronic conditions that can endanger a person’s health. Everyone has a bad night now and then, and for most people this is nothing to worry about. If you have frequent disruptions of your sleeping rhythm, however, it is important to treat the underlying problem before long-term damage sets in.
Types of sleep disorders
When most people think of sleep problems, they think of insomnia. In this disorder, people either can’t get to sleep at night or, once asleep, can’t stay asleep for a reasonable length of time.
However there is a wide array of other sleep disorders, including sleep walking, tooth grinding, and restless leg syndrome that will interfere with a person’s quality of sleep. People with these types of disorder might sleep a full eight hours, but still wake up feeling tired, as though they had not slept at all.
Snoring may seem like nothing more than an annoyance to your sleeping partner, but is a condition in itself, as well as a symptom of sleep apnea. People who suffer from this are not getting enough oxygen when they sleep which can lead to significant consequences.
Effects of sleep disruption
People often dismiss sleep problems as nothing more than minor irritations. If you are having infrequent problems sleeping then you are not likely to suffer serious long-term effects. However, if you are having trouble more than three times a week, there are serious threats to your health and safety.
The most obvious symptom of a sleep disorder is daytime sleepiness. This can make it difficult to concentrate, leading job impairment. One important danger is that a person’s reflexes become worse, often substantially slower than a person who is legally intoxicated. Sleepy drivers are far more likely to be involved in car accidents which might result in an expensive repair bill...or an expensive hospital bill!
Don’t think a cup of coffee will help your problem. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not make a person less sleepy. It temporarily suppresses the feeling of tiredness, but does not replace the effect of sleep. Overconsumption of caffeine, in fact, leads to greater sleep disturbances.
Other sleep disorders have even more serious effects. For example, untreated sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular disease, memory problems, and impotence.
Since there are so many types of sleep problems, it is difficult to find a treatment that will handle them all.
Less serious sleep disturbances can often be helped by practicing good sleep hygiene. A few simple tips can greatly enhance your sleep experience:
· Don’t nap during the day
· Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
· Use your bedroom for sleeping and intimacy and nothing else
· Stay to a regular schedule
For more dramatic sleep problems, seek the advice of a physician. There are many treatments for sleep disorders available that do not involve medication. But if needed, thousands of people find the solution they need for a restful night of sleep with a CPAP machine.
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