Sleep is a necessity. Research shows that most of us need about eight hours of good quality sleep a night to rest our bodies and refresh our minds, so we can perform at our best. And, of course, people simply enjoy a good night’s sleep.
But many people have real problems with sleep. The symptoms include inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, snoring and other breathing disorders while sleeping, which can cause drowsiness when we need to be alert. Untreated, these problems can have a devastating effect on quality of our lives, making us physically and mentally unable to deal with everyday challenges we face. In fact, some illnesses such as high blood pressure – even heart attack – can be linked to certain sleep disorders.
Sleep restores our bodies and minds without it we suffer. People who have sleep disorders may experience:
- Frequently difficulty falling asleep in bed at night
- Frequent awakening during sleep
- Heavy snoring
- Partner states you stop breathing during sleep
- Dozing off while driving
- Often waking with a headache
- Sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty concentrating at work or school
- Profuse sweating at night
- Leg cramps or crawling feeling in legs
- Restless legs that interfere with falling sleep
Common Sleep Disorders
- Insomnia—when a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep night after night
- Narcolepsy—when a person falls asleep suddenly many times a day
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)—when a person loses sleep because of a restless feeling in the legs
- Sleep Apnea—when a person stops breathing and then starts again many times a night
The Normal Sleep Cycle
The Normal Sleep Cycle lasts about one and half to two hours and is repeated 4-6 times a night. The cycle includes 2 very different kind of sleep:
- Quiet Sleep: the body drifts through 3- stages of sleep—from stage 1 (light sleep) to stage 3 (very deep sleep). Breathing, heartbeat and brain waves become slower.
- Active Sleep: in the 4th stage, or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, breathing, heartbeat and brain waves quicken. Vivid dreams occur. After the REM stage, the body returns to quiet sleep—and the body cycle repeats.
When some has a sleep disorder, the normal sleep cycle is disturbed. But, treatment can help.