Sunday, March 16, 2008

About Narcolepsy - A Case Study

A Case Study on the Sleep Disorder Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that affects 3 million people worldwide. This sleep disorder is a neurological condition, characterized by excessive sleepiness in the daytime and chronic insomnia at night. One of the classic characteristics of narcolepsy is the effect of falling asleep at an apparently random time.

Narcolepsy generally manifests during late adolescence and early adulthood, occurring in about 1 in 2000 individuals. Usually, the first symptom to appear after having this disorder is excessive daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms may then appear alone or together some time later. Other common symptoms of narcolepsy are sleep paralysis (being conscious but not being able to move as if you were asleep), cataplexy (episodic loss of muscle function or muscular weakness), hypnogogic hallucinations (vivid hallucinations that occur while awake) and chronic insomnia (finding it hard to sleep at night), which may be caused by excess sleep in the day. Narcolepsy involves a disturbance of REM sleep, one of the five stages of sleep. Sufferers have disturbances to them, with REM sleep beginning at the start of sleep instead of NREM sleep.

Narcolepsy can be debilitating for sufferers and unsettling for onlookers. Frustration is natural for many people since little is known about this sleep disorder and much less on how to treat narcolepsy. Narcolepsy can affect a person's social and professional life and often account for embarrassing moments, and making it unsafe to operate on dangerous machinery. While the exact cause of narcolepsy has not yet been discovered, there is scientific evidence to show that certain people are genetically predisposed to getting this sleep disorder.

All hope is not lost. Narcolepsy can be treated to a certain extent with amphetamine like stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate and modafinil, which can help fight drowsiness in the daytime. Treatment is adjusted to the individual based on symptoms and therapeutic response, with best control usually only after many months. Total control over symptoms is rarely possible.

While there is no way to cure narcolepsy, one can learn to cope with the symptoms of this sleep disorder. Understanding and patient peers are important, and lifestyle changes are important. A person suffering from narcolepsy should not operate on dangerous machinery. With proper medical care, he can lead a productive life. Helpful tips are to take a few 15 minute naps in the day to combat sleepiness, taking short walks during the day and trying to maintain a routine sleep schedule. Joining a relevant support group can prove beneficial too.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chronic Insomnia - A Sleep Disorder

Recent research has shown that chronic insomnia is on the rise, with approximately 60 million Americans suffering from some form of insomnia every year. Insomnia is just one of the many different types of sleep disorders that plague us while we try to sleep. Chronic insomnia is different from transient insomnia which only lasts a few days. Chronic insomnia can last for months or even years and may be caused by another sleep disorder or it may be a primary disorder in itself.

Insomnia can be caused by many reasons such as poor sleep hygiene or stress and anxiety. What is important is that insomnia can be prevented - you don't have to suffer unnecessarily and lose hours of rest because of this disorder. Insomnia is not the same as poor sleep quality, although the latter can be an important factor.

If untreated, this sleep disorder can be very debilitating and may result in poor concentration, frequent headaches, constant fatigue and irritability. It will reduce the quality of your life and may increase the risk of getting serious illnesses due to a weakened immune system. Our body needs sufficient sleep to repair itself and depriving it of sleep will disrupt it's normal restorative activity.

Fortunately, with the right course of action, chronic insomnia can be eliminated. You may want to take a look at our article that will teach you some steps to fall asleep quickly,which may help you in fighting chronic insomnia.

If chronic insomnia still persists, you may want to consider visiting a sleep specialist, who can diagnose the problem and find the root cause, then recommend appropriate treatments. Do note that many sleeping pills will not help and instead aggravate the problem. Please consult your doctor before starting on any form of sleeping medication.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How to stop snoring

Stop snoring - It could be detrimental to your sleep and your health. Snoring is the sound made when the airflow through your air passage is partially obstructed. Snoring is a sleep disorder can be an indication of a dangerous condition known as sleep apnea, when a person momentarily stops breathing. This can lead to increased risks of heart failure and stroke. Additionally, snoring is disruptive to the sleep of the people around you and may result in them becoming irritated and displeased with you. Snoring will not go away on it's own, the frequency and intensity will only increase as a person gets older. Because of the lack of oxygen your body gets, you may feel more fatigued and tired even after getting many hours of sleep.

So, how can you stop snoring? There are a few tips that you can use to reduce the severity and chances of you snoring.

Tip 1 - Sleep on your side instead of in a supine (lying on your back) position, where your tongue and jaw may obstruct your air passage because of gravity.

Tip 2 - Lose some weight. Overweight people are more likely to snore in their sleep.

Tip 3 - Elevate your head on a thicker pillow as this reduces the severity of snoring.

Tip 4 - Avoid alcohol and dairy products before you sleep.

Tip 5 - Do not take a large meal before you go to bed.

In conclusion, this sleep disorder can be treated with a little effort. I hope these tips will help you stop snoring. If you have any queries, feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, March 7, 2008

More tips to get better sleep

Last time, we showed you five ways to get better sleep. They were mostly focused on your activities before bedtime. Today, we will look at how you can improve the quality of your sleep by improving sleeping conditions in your bedroom.

Ideally, when we sleep, we want to rest and restore our bodies. The bedroom should be focused around that. Naturally, a better sleeping environment will result in a higher quality of sleep.

Here are 5 more tips on how to get better sleep by improving sleeping conditions:

Tip 1 - Make sure your bedroom is spacious and well aerated. I can't stress this enough, a cramped and stuffy bedroom is just not a good sleeping environment. If you cannot help but have a small bedroom, then tidy it regularly and pack unneeded things away to free up as much space as possible.

Tip 2 - Maintain a constant temperature while you sleep. This may seem new to many of you but it works wonders. The body is very sensitive to temperature changes, and a few degrees could mean the difference between average and good sleep. I've found that the optimum temperature for sleeping is around 24 degrees Celsius, anything above 27 degrees Celsius is too warm for comfort while anything below 22 degrees Celsius may give you a chill. Remember that the body metabolism slows during sleep so just because you're okay now doesn't mean you won't catch a cold when you sleep.

Tip 3 - Make your bed. This may sound trivial, but it's a good habit to have. Just after you wake up, tidy your bed by dusting the sheets, then tightening them until taut. Fluff up your pillow and place it neatly. Not only does this give your room a nicer look, a smooth bed is nice to lie on. No one likes sleeping on crumpled and crinkled sheets with little folds all over. Dusting your bed will clear out any particles that may have accumulated which may cause allergies.

Tip 4 - Make sure your mattress is good. You may be tempted to save money on your bed but trust me, this is one thing that's not worth it. Good rest is more valuable than your money. Having good rest can make you more productive and let you make more money. Don't scrimp on this one. For some tips, check out this guide to choosing a mattress.

Tip 5 - Noise and light pollution. These are culprits that make sleeping a chore. It doesn't have to be this way. If your surrounding environment is very noisy even at night, ask your family/friends/neighbors to turn down the volume. If that is not possible, you might want to invest in a noise-proof door. Recording studios use these kind of padded doors which can absorb ambient noise from the outside and give you a quiet and peaceful rest. Similarly, get curtains to cover your windows so you won't have to face the glaring lights from some guy's midnight party.

These tips should help you get a better sleep. If you have any feedback or questions, once again I urge you to leave a comment.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Effects of Sleeping Late

Well this may seem a little hypocritical but recently i've been staying up late. Of course I can justify that I can, in fact, afford to sleep later because I don't need to get up early (for your information, i'm on a holiday break now). Consequently, I've been staying awake until 2am in the morning, then I sleep for around 8 hours and wake up at 10am. I do this intentionally, not because I cannot sleep but because I'm busy on the computer. (If you are having difficulty falling asleep, you might want to take a look at this article on how to fall asleep quickly)

Anyway, I noticed a few peculiar things that I'd like to share. For one, even though I was getting the same amount of sleep, I felt more tired than I normally did. I attribute this to the decreasing quality of sleep as the day progresses, mainly because the ambient noise and light levels are significantly higher in the morning. In fact, I noticed that towards the end of my sleep (8am onwards) I constantly slip in and out of light sleep. I would awaken groggily and feel extremely drowzy and fall asleep a few minutes later only to awaken again within the hour.

I think that this could be aggravated by the fact that the latter part of our sleep is deep sleep, where body regeneration takes place. Having this interrupted would definitely affect our energy levels.

In conclusion, sleeping late could result in a poorer quality of sleep, as I have experienced myself. Maybe it would be wiser to just tuck in and leave tomorrow's work and worries for tomorrow, instead of staying up and risking your well being.