Apnea means "no airflow." Obstructive sleep apnea was thought to be a disorder primarily of overweight, older men. But abnormal breathing during sleep can affect people of any age, any weight, and either sex. Researchers now know that in many cases of sleep apnea, the obstruction in the airways is only partial. Most people with sleep apnea have a smaller-than-normal inner throat and other subtle bone and soft-tissue differences.
Even if you’ve struggled with sleep problems for so long that it seems normal, you can still learn to sleep better. You can start by tracking your symptoms and sleep patterns, and then making healthy changes to your daytime habits and bedtime routine. If self-help doesn’t do the trick, you can turn to sleep specialists who are trained in sleep medicine. Together, you can identify the underlying causes of your sleeping problem and find ways to improve your sleep and quality of life.
Now consider noise. If a ticking clock disturbs you, buy one that doesn't tick, or use your phone. Turn clock radios and MP3 players to the wall and cover lighted screens. Lay in supplies of earplugs, eye masks, and anything else that helps screen out light as well as sound. Some people find a fan or white-noise machine is soothing and blocks out street noise. If you don't like wearing earplugs or an eye mask when you fall asleep, keep them on your bedside table in case you wake up later. Many people find they're more sensitive to light and sound in the middle of the night.
Research suggests that hypnosis may be helpful in alleviating some types and manifestations of sleep disorders in some patients. "Acute and chronic insomnia often respond to relaxation and hypnotherapy approaches, along with sleep hygiene instructions." Hypnotherapy has also helped with nightmares and sleep terrors. There are several reports of successful use of hypnotherapy for parasomnias specifically for head and body rocking, bedwetting and sleepwalking.
Although more research should be done to increase the reliability of this method of treatment, research suggests that music therapy can improve sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders. In one particular study, participants (18 years or older) who had experienced acute or chronic sleep disorders were put in a randomly controlled trial and their sleep efficiency (overall time asleep) was observed. In order to assess sleep quality, researchers used subjective measures (i.e. questionnaires) and objective measures (i.e. polysomnography). The results of the study suggest that music therapy did improve sleep quality in subjects with acute or chronic sleep disorders, however only when tested subjectively. Although these results are not fully conclusive and more research should be conducted, it still provides evidence that music therapy can be an effective treatment for sleep disorders.
A catch-all term for the inability to fall or stay asleep, sleeplessness is -- as sufferers know -- a very serious problem. It's sleeplessness whenever something, whether it's physical pain, anxiety, or an underlying condition, prevents you from falling asleep within a reasonable amount of time or staying asleep long enough to achieve a good night's sleep.
There are many possible causes of restless legs syndrome, including kidney failure, nerve disorders, vitamin and iron deficiencies, pregnancy, and some medications (such as antidepressants). Recent studies have shown a strong genetic link and researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the disorder.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. If you have narcolepsy, you may have “sleep attacks” in the middle of talking, working, or even driving. Although no cure yet exists, a combination of treatments can help control symptoms and enable you to enjoy many normal activities.
What to do: If you suspect you have a circadian rhythm disorder, take steps to get your body onto a regular sleep schedule. Choose a bedtime and wake-up time that work for you, and follow the same routine each day, even on weekends. This can be tough for those who have to get up early during the week but like to stay up later on weekends, but do your best to craft a compromise between your work week and weekend habits. The important thing is to avoid the trap of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, then suddenly shifting to late nights and late mornings on the weekends. This will inevitably leave you with insomnia on Sunday night, which in turn sets you up to start the week exhausted on Monday morning.