Archive for Sleep Disorders

Snoring: The Silence Killer

Stop SnoringSnoring can be a troubling problem for couples. The person who snores often is unaware of it, but their spouse is forced to deal with a noisy saw night after night. Sometimes it is a small saw, and sometimes it sounds like a chainsaw. Once the spouse is awake they will often try to do something to wake up the snorer, such as making loud noises, shaking the bed or even kicking their partner. Pretty soon both people are lying awake, angry with each other. It can be a vicious cycle.

40% of adults snore, and it is more common among men than women (although post-menopausal women snore almost as much as men). It is also more common among those who are overweight.

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Sleep Restriction Therapy

As a treatment for insomnia, sleep restriction therapy falls under the “behavioral treatment methods”. It also falls under the paradoxical concept of “less is more”. That may sound contradictory to you at first.

 

A paradox is, in fact, something that seems contradictory on the surface, but once you delve into the subject a bit you find that it makes sense.

Less is More

For example, I’ve been training for a marathon over the last several months. For a period of about six weeks I found that I was getting tireder and tireder, and my legs were aching all the time. I decided I was pushing too hard, so I backed off of my mileage and intensity. Instead of trying to run 70+ mile weeks I was only running 50 or so.

The result? After two weeks the pain went away, my energy picked up and I was able to slowly build the mileage back up to 60/week, and I was running faster. In my case, less running = more benefit.

The reason “less is more” is often true is because we have limited bodies and minds. We are designed to handle excesses for periods of time, but then we must have time to recover. If we eat too much for a few days we will gain weight if we don’t back off and return to a normal diet. If we exercise too long and too hard our bodies will begin to break down, until we back off and allow time to recover.

Similarly, our sleep can become disrupted because of a variety of issues, and the solution may be to back off. Sleep restriction therapy is a way of backing off temporarily and then slowly building back up to a normal level.

How Sleep Restriction Works

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Understanding Insomnia

I Can't SleepWhat is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a large and important topic. Whole books are written about it. Within this article I will highlight what is most important to know about the problem and some steps towards overcoming it.

 

First of all, insomnia is more of a symptom than it is an illness. The word insomnia comes from the Latin In (not) + Somnus (sleep). It literally means “not sleeping”.

Be that as it may, most insomnia sufferers get some sleep. The problem is that the sleep is either too short or of poor quality.

Everyone experiences a sleepless night of tossing and turning once in a while. This is normal and is not outside of healthy sleep. However, when insomnia becomes a regular occurrence it is a sleep disorder. There are three categories of insomnia, ordered according to duration:

Categories of Insomnia

  • Transient Insomnia – Lasts less than a week. This type of insomnia can usually be connected with some kind of stress
  • Acute Insomnia – From one week to one month in duration. Acute insomnia does not mean the person has not slept at all for a month, but that sleep has been difficult to initiate or sustain, or that the quality of the sleep has been very poor and unrestful.
  • Chronic Insomnia – More than one month of poor sleep. Additional effects caused by long term sleep disruption may include severe muscle fatigue, aches and pains, hallucinations, lack of concentration, mental fatigue and double vision.

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Sleep Apnea Could be Killing You

Sleep apnea afflicts millions of adults. The word ‘apnea’ comes from the Greek apnoia a – “no” or “not”, and pneo/pnein – “air” or “breathing”. It literally means ‘no air’ or ‘not breathing’. The term is used to describe a medical condition wherein the afflicted person stops breathing for a brief period of time. Sleep apnea is simply the specific condition of apnea that occurs while sleeping.

 

There are two forms of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Of the two, OSA is much more common. It was once believed to be a rare occurrence, but the ability to test for it has uncovered the truth. Approximately 18 million adults in the United States are currently suffering from OSA today.

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I Can’t Sleep – Common Causes of Sleep Troubles

We all go through times in our lives where sleep is difficult to come by. For most of us, these are sporadic and can often be linked to some specific circumstance of our life, such as trouble at work or with children, or a big event that is coming up.

Unfortunately, a significant number of people suffer longer-term or chronic trouble sleeping. Most people, when they struggle with the inability to get to sleep, regard the issue as insomnia. In truth, there are several different sleep disorders any of which could be the culprit.

Trouble Falling Asleep

Paradoxical Insomnia

The medical term for having trouble getting to sleep is ‘sleep latency’. There is somewhat of a misconception about sleep latency, and many people believe they have insomnia when, in truth they fall asleep in a normal amount of time. The typical adult takes between sixteen and 20 minutes to fall asleep.

It is also common for people to misjudge how long it takes them to get to sleep. These people believe they are lying awake for hours or are waking up repeatedly throughout the night when in reality their sleep latency falls within normal parameters. This type of insomnia is referred to as ‘paradoxical insomnia’ because it is not true insomnia, but only a misconception of reality.

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Sleep Disorders

As long as there has been sleep there have been sleep disorders. As they say, “to err is human”, and even with something as seemingly simple as sleep we seem to be able to muck things up.

When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said ‘No, I made a few mistakes.’
Steven Wright

That’s not to say it is entirely your fault if you are troubled in the sleep department. There are a variety of sleep disorders and a variety of causes for these problems. Some are biological problems, some are due to stressful circumstances, and some are because of our own bad habits.

Below are some of the most common sleep-related issues people face.

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