Sleepless in Chicago: Guidance on solving sleep disorders
Are you suffering from a sleep disorder that interrupts your sleep night after night and wishing you could find some relief? You are not alone. While not all sleep disorders are curable, it may be comforting to know that certain lifestyle changes and medications can make your symptoms manageable.
Per the University of California (UC) San Diego Sleep Medicine Center, more than 40 million Americans of all ages experience sleep disorders. At least 84 different ailments have been documented, with some of the most common being insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Individuals dealing with insomnia generally find it difficult to fall and stay asleep, possibly due to stress, depression, caffeine intake, etc. Symptoms include daytime sleepiness, low energy as well as problems with concentration or memory. The 2008 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine article “Clinical Guideline for the Evaluation and Management of Chronic Insomnia in Adults” said “insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder in the general population … “
To control such symptoms, Mayo Clinic suggested cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves eliminating negative thoughts and worries that may delay sleep, breathing exercises, avoiding or limiting naps to 30 minutes or less, among others. For additional tips, the UC Sleep Medicine Center emphasized maintaining a daily schedule, regular exercise and establishing pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath, light snack or 10 minutes of reading.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In obstructive sleep apnea cases, breathing repeatedly stops and starts when throat muscles relax too much and prevent air from entering the nose or mouth. Loud snoring, daytime fatigue, high blood pressure and obesity are indicators of this disease. If left untreated, it could ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease.
Although treatment varies for each patient, doctors may recommend avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, losing weight if overweight and using pillows to aid sleep in a side position. The UC Sleep Medicine Center added that “even a 10 percent weight loss can reduce the number of apneic events for most patients.” Depending on the severity, oxygen administration, a mouthpiece for repositioning the lower jaw or surgery might be necessary.
RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome)
For RLS sufferers, aching or crawling sensations usually occur at rest and give people the urge to continually move their legs. “Sometimes, treating an underlying condition, such as iron deficiency or peripheral neuropathy, greatly relieves symptoms of restless legs syndrome,” Mayo Clinic said. While iron supplements could mollify the problem, the staff only advised doing so with medical supervision once a physician has monitored your blood-iron level.
Other medications, such as Requip and Mirapex for Parkinson’s disease, can also limit leg movement by affecting dopamine levels in the brain. However, applying warm or cool packs and massaging your legs are home remedies that you can try on your own. Even mediation or yoga, especially before bed, will help relieve stress, which is known to aggravate RLS.
You will ultimately want to consult your doctor to find solutions that are best for you. In the meantime, hopefully reading these suggestions will bring you one step closer to restful and satisfying sleep.