By Pritha Banerjee (L&T MHPS)
In this edition, while talking about health, we will discuss about improper Sleep i.e. Sleep Disorder.
Today we are all health conscious. Whenever we think about health, what strikes to our mind is our eating habits and physical fitness. Hence, we all try to follow a daily diet. We go for routine exercise to remain fit. But no one ever talks about proper rest. Guys! please note that taking proper is also important and perhaps most crucial for your body. In today’s fast life, we all tend to compromise on one thing… Sleep!
Neuroscientist Matthew Walker said-
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life,”
Before going to a detailed discussion on sleep disorder, let us first know about the definition and benefits of sleep:
Sleep indeed is a repeated state of mind and body characterized by altered consciousness, relatively subdued sensory action, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles, and reduced interactions with surroundings.
During sleep, most of the body’s systems are in an anabolic state, thus helping to restore the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. It is a vital process to maintain mood, memory and cognitive function. It plays a large role in functioning of our endocrine and immune systems.
In our body, the internal circadian clock stimulates sleep daily at night.
A sleep disorder, or somnipathy, is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental, social and emotional functioning.
Types of Sleep Disorders :
There are a wide variety of sleep disorder, about 70-80 of then are identified till date.
- Insomnia: difficulty in falling asleep.
- Hypersomnia: excessive time spent sleeping
- Narcolepsy: decreased ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Symptoms include periods of excessive daytime sleepiness that usually last from seconds to minutes and may occur at any time.
- Sleep apnea: major pauses in breathing leading to discontinuity in sleep.
- Cataplexy: Sudden and transient loss of muscle tone while awake.
- Sleep walking: a type of parasomnia that involve abnormal movements during sleep. It is a combination of sleep and wakefulness.
- RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome): strong urge to move one’s legs
- REM (Rapid Eye Movement) behavior disorder: in which people act out their dreams hence behaving abnormally during sleep, often involving rapid eye movement
- Other disorders include night terror, sleeping sickness, bed wetting, bruxism, noctura, Delayed/ Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder, Catathrenia, hypopnea, PLMD (Periodic Limb Moveent Disorder) etc.
A systematic study has mentioned many reasons leading to various kind of sleep disorder in a person. Few are:
- A traumatic Childhood experience
- Alcohol Consumption
- Hormonal fluctuations (mostly in women)
- Psychological causes like anxiety or depression
- Chronic pain
- Brain Injury
- Situational Effect
- Artificial Light can affect your internal Circadian clock leading to sleep disorder.
There are studies that claim as two thirds of adults around the world are not getting enough sleep hence affecting their productivity at work, making them physically and emotionally unfit. The effects of sleep disorders can at times be very disruptive that immediate relief is desired. Unfortunately, in case of long-term disorder, treatment can take a bit long time to be effective. However, if one continues with the treatment plan regularly, eventually can find a way to better sleep. However, the following symptoms are commonly seen in individuals affected by sleep disorder:
- difficulty falling or staying asleep
- daytime fatigue
- strong urge to take naps during the day
- irritability or anxiety
- lack of concentration
- Weak Immune system leading to sickness (frequently)
On a serious note, prolonged effects can be very dangerous for a body. Lack of sleep puts the immune system at a disadvantage. When you haven’t slept enough, it’s harder for the body to fight off illnesses ranging from the common cold to cancer. Insufficient sleep makes the body a better breeding ground for cancer an d tumor. Sleepiness is now being blamed for cases of colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Missing sleep can also put your body on a crash course for chronic disease. Insufficient sleep has been linked to increased instances of Alzheimer’s, obesity, stroke, and diabetes. Lack of sleep changes how insulin operates in your body and how quickly your cells absorb sugar.
Since there are vast types of sleep disorders, hence proper detection is a very essential step in diagnosis. After careful diagnosis, proper treatment can ensure relief from sleep disorders. A doctor must go through the medical history of the patient before pursuing any treatment. A physical exam followed by a psychological evaluation may easily determine the cause of sleep disorder. Additional tests are also available. Polysomnography and Actigraphy are tests commonly ordered for some sleep disorders.
Healthy lifestyle, proper exercise and appropriate diet can help in curing sleep disorder in most cases. Other treatment methods include the following:
- There are drugs to induce sleep as well stimulants which inhibit sleep.
- Acupuncture can improve sleep quality specially for insomnia patients.
- Hypnosis may also be applied as and when required.
- Music Therapy can work in acute & chronic patients too.
- Allergy treatment can be useful in some cases, when allergy is the cause of the disorder.
- Melatonin helps in making people fall asleep faster.
- Managing Sleep: making sleep priority, preparing for good sleep, maintaining a daily sleep routine, keeping noise and light away can naturally lead to a peaceful sleep.
Getting the rest you need may require some change in lifestyle. It is important to develop good habits that promote health and eliminate those that keep you up at night. Here are some tips to help you improve your sleep hygiene and prepare the perfect environment to get some good sleep.
Tips : How to stay awake at work
- Listen to music (if allowed, use your earplugs)
- Talk to someone
- Chew Something
- Splash cold water on your face
- Aromatherapy: Use a strong smell around to be alert
- Try Exercising: Stretch yourself or try acupressure
- Take a short walk
- Do something interesting like play games, read news as per your interest
- Eat some healthy snack to gain energy
- The last option though, but may be tried if other options don’t help: Take a short nap and get refreshed.
Hope these tips help you fight with sleep in workplace! Do let me know if any of these work.
World Sleep Day (the Friday before the northern hemisphere vernal equinox) is an annual event organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society to celebrate the benefits of good and healthy sleep and to draw society’s attention to the burden of sleep problems and their medical, educational, and social aspects. It aims to raise awareness of sleep disorders and their better understanding and prevention, and to reduce the burden of sleep problems on society, which threaten the health or quality of life of as much as 45% of the world’s population.