The important fact about sleep disorders
Sleep is an essential part of our physiology since it mediates many functions that cannot possibly occur while we’re awake.
Unfortunately, sleep disorders are quite common in the general population. Therefore, it speeds up numerous health problems.
This article will briefly discuss the benefits of healthy sleep and see how sleep disorders disturb this balance.
The benefits of healthy sleep
Promotes weight loss
Many research papers and clinical studies found a connection between poor sleep quality and obesity.
In a 2008 meta-analysis, researchers showed that restless individuals have a higher risk of becoming overweight.
The review also noticed that 55% of adults and 89% of children who sleep fewer hours have a higher body mass index (BMI).
Additionally, insomniac patients reported eating more meals per day due to increased appetite. Scientists explained this experience by the effect of sleep on controlling hunger-suppressing hormones (e.g., ghrelin, leptin).
Optimizes cognitive functions
The process of memory consolidation is strictly linked to sleep quality.
During the day, people tuck away a lot of information in their short-term memory. However, the collected data needs to get moved to long-term memory to last for long. A restless night could disrupt these brain functions.
Maintains a healthy heart
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are most likely to report having health problems, including cardiovascular disease.
This was connected to the medical conditions that can get started by chronic sleep deprivation. Which consists of risk factors for heart disease themselves. These conditions include:
- Blood hypertension
- Type 2 diabetes
Optimizes the immune system
Healthy sleep helps in the control of inflammatory components (pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds) in the body.
A restless night can break this system and leads to several complications, such as immunodeficiencies and recurrent infections.
In a 2013 study, researchers found that partial sleep restriction was related to the extra stimulation of inflammation-signaling pathways that put patients at an increased risk of developing allergies, autoimmune diseases, and cardiometabolic diseases.
The major sleep disorders
Hypersomnia (i.e., excessive sleep)
You may have noticed that you are sleeping extra hours during the night, but only to stay in bed all day long.
At first glance, it may seem like you’re just getting some rest because you feel tired. However, and often, hypersomnia (too much sleep) is a subtle sign of sleep abnormalities.
Therefore, it is important to keep this in mind as you observe your own sleeping habits.
For most people, insomnia is identical to difficulty falling asleep. They feel tired and restless all the time. However, the Diagnostic and statistical manual of psychiatric disorders V (DSM-V) classifies both poor sleep and difficulty maintaining it as insomnia types.
Here are some signs and symptoms associated with insomnia:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty maintaining sleep
- Tiredness and drowsiness during the day
- Non- refreshing sleep
- Distracted and reduced concentration
The first type is acute insomnia, which lasts for several nights to weeks and can often be traced to certain life events, such as stress and anxiety.
On the other hand, we have chronic insomnia, which must occur at least three nights a week for longer than 3 months.
Chronic insomnia is challenging to deal with, especially since the underlying cause is usually unknown—one of the most common sleep disorders.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is commonly seen in all age groups, revealing as brief and repeated pauses in breathing during sleep.
The medical literature states that pauses’ duration must be at least 10 seconds to qualify for this definition.
The primary defect in OSA is the laryngeal muscle failure that cannot keep the airways open, leading to temporary apnea.
This condition leads to serious complications, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndromes, and neurocognitive deterioration.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea in its two forms:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
Keep in mind that OSA is extremely underdiagnosed, with some estimates stating that more than 80% of individuals with this condition have yet to be diagnosed.
One of the main problems doctors encounter when dealing with a sleep apnea patient is posing the diagnosis. The patient feels restless but does not know why. Even when they thought they had a full night sleep.
Today, the gold standard of OSA diagnosis is to use polysomnography (PSG), which measures various vital functions (e.g., heart rate, respiratory frequency, muscle movements) to identify any abnormalities in the breathing patterns.
Maintaining healthy sleep is key for everyone since it optimizes several physiological functions and prevents numerous diseases.
Unfortunately, sleep disorders are common conditions that negatively impact personal relationships, professional performance, and quality of life.