Remember the last time you had a good night's sleep? How often have you hit the bed early? Isn't sleep the first casualty of our hectic lifestyles? It's time for you to wake up to the hazards of sleep disorders.
Sleep is a physical and mental resting state in which a person becomes relatively inactive and unaware of the environment. In essence, sleep is a partial detachment from the world, where most external stimuli are blocked from the senses. Normal sleep is characterized by a general decrease in body temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate and most other bodily functions. In contrast, the human brain never decreases activity. Studies have shown that the brain is as active during sleep as it is when awake. Sleep and wakefulness alternate, usually between night and day respectively.
When sleep goes kaput
The average sleep-deprived individual may experience impaired performance, irritability, lack of concentration and daytime drowsiness. He/she may be less alert and unable to concentrate. Additionally, because sleep is linked to restorative processes in the immune system, sleep deprivation in a normal adult causes a biological response similar to body fighting off an infection.Persistent sleep deprivation can cause significant mood swings, erratic behavior, hallucinations and in the most extreme, yet rare cases, death. A pioneer in sleep research, Dr. William Dement, noted that most undergraduates enter college with some knowledge of personal health, but little to no knowledge of the value of sleep. He suggests that all students should not only learn the importance of physical fitness and good nutrition, but healthy sleep, calling all three the "fundamental triumvirate of health".
Each person will need an average of seven hours of sleep (plus and minus: 1 hour).
No or Very less Sleep
Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep. Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets or how long it takes to fall asleep. Insomnia may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty in concentrating and irritability marked by:
o Waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep.
o Waking up too early in the morning.
o Un-refreshing sleep.
o Advanced age (insomnia occurs more frequently in those over the age 60).
o Women are also more prone to insomnia.
o A history of depression.
o If stress, anxiety, a medical problem, or the use of certain medications occurs along with the above conditions, insomnia is more likely.
o Environmental noise.
o Extreme temperatures.
o Change in the surrounding environment.
o Sleep/wake schedule problems such as those due to jet lag.
o Medication side effects.
o Don't expect to have difficulty sleeping and stop worrying about it.
o Check caffeine consumption.
o Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
o No smoking before bedtime.
o Avoid excessive napping in the afternoon or evening.
o Regulate disrupted sleep/wake schedules.
o Diagnosing and treating underlying medical or psychological problems.
o Identifying behaviors that may worsen insomnia and stopping (or reducing) them.
o Possibly using sleeping pills, although the long-term use of sleeping pills for chronic insomnia is controversial. A patient taking any sleeping pill should be under the supervision of a physician to closely evaluate effectiveness and minimize side effects.
o Trying behavioral techniques to improve sleep, such as relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy and reconditioning.
There are specific and effective techniques that can reduce or eliminate anxiety and body tension. As a result, the person's mind is able to stop 'racing', the muscles can relax and restful sleep can occur. It usually takes much practice to learn these techniques and to achieve effective relaxation.