Healthy Sleep

An adequate sleep cycle is as important for mental and physical as food and water. Additionally, sleep is very important for certain body processes. Examples include:

  • Repair muscle tissue
  • Restore energy
  • Allow the brain to process new information
  • Maintain critical body functions

If you do not sleep enough it may lead to certain unpleasant results such as impaired focus, react, think clearly, control emotions, and others. Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to some serious health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, mental disorders (such as depression), and others. In addition, it may also negatively affect your immune system, which decreases its ability to fight against infections and health conditions.

How much sleep is needed?

Sleep needs and habits usually change as we get older. Check below some recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • From 6 to 13 years old – 9 to 11 hours
  • 14 to 17 years old – 8 to 10 hours
  • 18 to 64 years old – 7 to 9 hours
  • 65 and up – 7 to 8 hours

Younger children usually need increased sleeping hours to recover. Additionally, many kids reach their sleep goals with naps. Check below some examples:

  • 0 to 3 months old – 14 to 17 hours
  • 4 to 11 months old – 12 to 15 hours
  • 1 to 2 years old – 11 to 14 hours
  • 3 to 5 years old – 10 to 13 hours

There are different factors (such as genetics) that determine how long your sleep needs is. The quality of sleep is also important because poor quality sleep may increase the sleep hours you need to recover completely.

Sleep Disorders

The following sleep conditions can prevent your sleeping well regularly. However, occasional sleep disturbances including stress, jet lag, or a busy schedule may interact with your sleep. Check below some common sleep disorders:

  • Narcolepsy – This is a condition that is characterized by suddenly falling very sleepy or falling asleep without warning.
  • Sleep Apnea – When your airways are blocked regularly during the night, this sleep disturbance may occur.
  • Insomnia – This is when you have problems with falling and remaining asleep or both at the same.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – That is when you feel the urge to move your legs constantly even when asleep.
  • Parasomnias – This is a sleep condition when abnormal behaviors or movements occur during sleep. For example nightmares, sleepwalking, and others.

People who sleep enough hours but do not reach a deep stage of sleep may wake up tired or weakened in the morning. Additionally, if you wake up frequently during the night, you may not reach deep sleep stages. Check some of the most common sleep disorders in detail:

Sleep Apnea

This is a common sleep disorder in which the muscles in the back of your throat relax and then narrow or close your airway. This effect restricts the air and you cannot get it. Usually, you will wake up several times during the night to resume breathing because it stops repeatedly. This occurs even if you are not aware of it. Check below some symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches

If you are not treating this sleep disorder it may lead to several complications including heart disease, memory loss, diabetes, hypertension, and others. In mild cases of sleep apnea, your physician may direct some lifestyle changes. For example:

In case you experience moderate or severe sleep apnea, physicians will prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. It will help to get a constant flow of air through a mask worn over your mouth and nose. Moreover, the CPAP machine will keep passages from closing when you are asleep.

Sleep Paralysis

About 7% of people may experience this sleep disorder. Sleep paralysis provokes temporary loss of muscle function and control. This usually appears right before or after you have fallen asleep or when you are trying to wake up. Check below the symptoms of sleep paralysis:

  • Unable to move your limbs, body, or head
  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Feeling of suffocation
  • Inability to speak

However, the exact cause of this sleep disturbance is not known. In most cases, sleep paralysis is a complication of other health conditions such as sleep disorder narcolepsy, sleep deprivation, or other mental disorders (such as bipolar disorder). It also may occur due to medicines or substance use.

Insomnia and Sleep

One-third of adults experience insomnia. Difficulty falling or staying asleep you will notice if suffer from insomnia. Moreover, you can wake up too early, which prevents you from feeling freshened after sleeping. In addition, certain life events can provoke this condition such as pregnancy, trauma, or stress. In any case, some daily habits may also provoke this sleep disorder such as starting a new job with non-traditional work hours. Check below some factors that can cause chronic insomnia:

  • Obesity
  • Back or knee pain
  • Menopause
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety, and others)

Sleep Deprivation

This is another form of a sleep disorder in which you are not sleeping enough or aren’t getting good quality sleep. As per a study, roughly 35% of people in the U.S. get fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night.

Long-term sleep deprivation may lead to some complications. Examples include:

  • Memory Problems – Some plaques and proteins are cleared by your brain during sleep. Therefore, not sleeping enough some of them may remain.
  • Weakened Immunity – if you do not have enough sleep, your immune system may lose the ability to fight against bacteria and viruses including the common cold and flu.
  • Reduced Libido – A decrease in testosterone may also occur due to sleep deprivation. Thus, it leads to a decrease in sex drive.
  • Cardiovascular Disease – Hypertension, heart disease, or other cardiovascular problems are more common in those who are chronically sleep-deprived.
  • Weight Gain – Some research showed that not getting enough sleep provokes high-fat or high-calorie cravings. Furthermore, the chemicals in your brain that stop eating are not as effective.

Sleep Benefits

Having enough quality sleep may help to lessen the symptoms such as fatigue and concentration problems. Moreover, it can prevent some serious long-term health problems. Check below some benefits:

  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved concentration
  • Eating fewer calories
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Lower risk of depression

Frequently Asked Questions

What are treatment options available for sleep disorders?

Fortunately, different treatment options are available if you are suffering from sleeping disorders. For example:

  • Sleeping medicines (such as Diphenhydramine, Zolpidem, Ramelteon, and others)
  • Natural Sleep Aids (such as Melatonin, Valerian, Levander, and others)
  • Therapy
  • Essential Oils
  • Hypnosis
  • Guided Meditation

What is considered healthy sleep?

Commonly, 7 or more hours of good-quality sleep on a regular schedule every night is considered enough for an adult. For more details talk with your healthcare provider.

How to prevent sleep problems?

There are some tips that may help you to get a better sleep. Check below some examples:

  • Make sure that your bedroom is dark, relaxing, quiet, and comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Remove electronic devices including computers, smartphones, and TVs before bedtime.
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