Sleep Disorders, An Introduction and What We Can Do.
Sleep Disorders – Causes and Cure
The average human life expectancy is approximately 80 years and out of these 80 years, humans spend 26.7 years sleeping (FastStats - Life Expectancy, 2021). This makes sleep one of the most critical factors in your life. Proper sleep increases your productivity at work, helps you make decisions clearly and allows you to enjoy your daily life. Not only does sleep affects the quality of life logically, but also it affects your overall brain functioning biologically. Proper sleep can help you get rid of many physical, mental and behavioral issues.
On the other hand, a lack of sleep can make you suffer from fatigue or low energy, at day time, reduced decision power, and disturbed moods which lead to various sleep disorders (Medic et al., 2017). The causes of sleep disorder can be underlying medical health issues, mental health problems, serious neurological conditions or simply environmental factors. Sleep disorders can potentially shorten your life span. Fortunately, there are several ways to cope up with sleep disorders.
Immune System and Sleep
Recent research in the field of neuroimmunology has revealed that there is a strong relationship between a healthy sleep and improved immunity. Studies have shown that, early nocturnal sleep increases the number of undifferentiated T cells and proinflammatory cytokines (Besedovsky et al., 2012). Increased number of undifferentiated Naïve T cells in the blood is a sign of a strong immunity. These naïve T cells proliferate and differentiate into cells that are capable of removing the antigen upon interacting with antigen. Similarly, cytokines help immune cells find the antigen and fight against it. Presence of more cytokines in the blood indicates a good immunity (Asif et al., 2017). This is why patients suffering from any infection tend to sleep more because it increases the production of cytokines leading to enhanced immune response.
Cause of Sleep Disorders
Abnormal or poor sleep refers to a condition when you cannot enjoy a peaceful continuous sleep at night or during the day. These conditions are commonly known as sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders include insomnia, apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), circadian rhythm disorders, narcolepsy, and parasomnias.
The causes of sleep disorders can cab be divided into four main categories.
Medical conditions such as asthma, kidney disease, heart failure, heartburn and musculoskeletal disorders can cause sleep disorders in adults (Gupta et al., 2017). Sleep disorders because of a medical cause are often apparent.
Normal sleep can be restored as soon as the medical condition is cured. If you still find it difficult to have a proper sleep after full recovery, the reason might be something else and not the disease.
Some mental health issues can be the cause of sleep disorders. Depression, general anxiety, apprehension, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias and panic attacks happened to be associated with sleep disorders (Costa e Silva, 2006).
If you are experiencing anxiety, pressure, depression, or any phobia, your sleep can be upset, leading to other mental and physical problems. A session with your psychiatrist might help decide the primary cause of sleep deprivation.
Apart from some physical and mental health issues, neurological conditions like epilepsy, dementia, headache, brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease, and similar neurodegenerative diseases can cause sleep disorders (Rémi et al., 2019).
Sleep disorders caused by neurological disorders can indirectly be treated by curing the underlying neurological disorder. If you are experiencing excessive or repeated pain in the head, you must immediately consult the specialist to have a thorough brain examination.
The reason of disturbed sleep might be just environmental factors such as excess light, increased or decreased temperature, an itchy bed, uncomfortable pillow, humidity, noise, and rays from electron devices. Research has shown that blue light can significantly damage the photoreceptor (Tosini et al., 2016). Edward C. Harding from Imperial College London has concluded that the body tends to have a better sleep at 27–30°C. At this temperature, the body gains thermoneutrality which means the body does not require to spend energy in maintaining the temperature (Harding et al., 2019). Similarly, a study published in the scientific journal Frontier in Neurology concluded that administration of broadband background music (bass, mid, treble) helped patients with insomnia sleep 38% faster than in a normal environment (Messineo et al., 2017).
It is better to set up a cozy environment before you go to sleep. Maintaining temperature, adjusting light intensity according to your needs, using the correct pillow, cleaning your bed and/or covering yourself with a suitable blanket can help you improve your quality of sleep and wake up energetic.
Humans spend 1/3rd of their life sleeping which makes it an essential part of our life. Sleep is a complex biological condition of the body with decreased metabolism and motor activity. Proper sleep can improve your quality of life, while lack of sleep or sleep disorder can disturb your daily routine. The underlying cause of sleep disorder can be some medical condition, mental health problem, neurological disease or simply some environmental factors. It is necessary to understand and cure all the potential causes of sleep disorders to enjoy sound slumber peacefully.
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