Do not ignore sleep disorder – Follow tips for a healthy sleep

By Dr. Satish Babu, Senior Consultant, ENT, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road

Vidya was excited when she got her new job after graduation and she liked her office work hours as she could log off from work at 6 pm every day. After finishing her work, she would rush home to catch her favorite series. Although she stays with her parents, she never had time to speak to them, let alone help in the house. She was hooked to the television and would be awake till 1.00 am. As the days passed by, Vidya’s sleep time reduced to 2-3 hours. With this, her health started deteriorating. Vidya soon started picking a fight with her parents and colleagues. Along with the rude behavior, her lack of concentration in work due to reduced sleep time got her multiple warnings from the seniors. Slowly Vidya slipped into depression. Worried about seeing their daughter, her parents consulted a doctor. After the counseling, the doctor recommended her to follow a healthy sleeping regime and asked her to reduce screen time before going to bed. Once she began following those steps properly, she was able to have a sound sleep at night and her performance at work also improved accordingly.
There are a lot of people amongst us like Vidya who get addicted to screen time at night. Especially youngsters who get addicted to their favorite shows at night and binge on their favorite snacks and beverages. But what most parents do not consider is that how this habit impacts the lifestyle with multiple lifestyle issues like obesity and sleep disorder. Today many working professionals and kids go through sleep disorders due to the sedentary lifestyle and the habits they follow. Work from home and online classes have added to the existing issue.
Therefore, sleep disorders need to be treated early. When left untreated, they can have a negative effect leading to other health complications. There are various types of sleep disorders. They can be classified according to the problems and behaviors of a person like breathing problems, natural sleep-wake cycles, difficulty sleeping, and how sleepy you feel during the daytime.

Common types of sleep disorders include:

Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder in which you find it difficult to fall asleep or staying
asleep through the night. Sleep apnea is a condition in which you have abnormal patterns in breathing while you are sleeping. There are different types of sleep apnea. Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes extreme sleepiness during the day and falling asleep suddenly during the day.

  •  Restless legs syndrome is a kind of sleep movement disorder. Restless legs syndrome, also
    called Willis-Ekbom disease, causes an uncomfortable feeling and an urge to move the legs
    while you try to fall asleep.
  • It is certainly important to consider duration as well as the quality of sleep as it can affect each person in
    different ways. Sleep deprivation leads to an early onset of systemic diseases. Sleep disorders that
    are linked with systemic disorders frequently disrupt maintenance of sleep or cause symptoms of
    excessive daytime sleepiness or parasomnia behavior.
  • In case an individual had poor quality of sleep, they tend to feel tired the next day, regardless of how
    many hours they have slept. The sleep disorder can affect various aspects of health, including:
  • The immune system: Sleep deprivation may cause a person to be more vulnerable to
    infections, which may usually take a longer time to resolve.
  • Weight gain: Sleep can affect hormones that control sensations of hunger and fullness. It
    can also trigger the release of insulin. Changes to sleep can cause increased fat storage,
    and impact on weight, and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
  •  The cardiovascular system: Good-quality sleep decreases the work of your heart, as blood
    pressure and heart rate go down at night. Too little sleep may increase the risk of
    cardiovascular disease
  •  Hormone levels: Sleep disorder can affect hormone production, including the production of
    growth hormones and testosterone. It also causes the body to release additional stress
    hormones, such as norepinephrine and cortisol.
  • The brain: Sleep disorders affect the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which takes care of
    reasoning, and the amygdala, which deals with emotion. A lack of sleep may also make it
    Fertility: Sleeplessness may affect the production of hormones that boost fertility.
    Lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve your quality of sleep, here are some tips to overcome
    sleep disorders and live a normal life:
  • Have a regular sleep-wake cycle. Try to go to bed at the same time every day
  •  Avoid using a phone or any electronic devices before going to bed, this will let your body relax
    and gets ready to sleep
  •  Include more vegetables and fish into your diet, reduce sugar intake
  •  Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco in the 4-6 hours window before bedtime
  • Do not eat large meals within two hours of bedtime
  •  Do not take any naps
  • Make sure you sleep in a quiet, dark room with a comfortable temperature
  • In case you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, do a quiet activity somewhere else and
    return to bed when you are sleepy
  •  Make sure your friends and colleagues know about your bedtime so that they do not disturb
    you during that time. This will help you have an uninterrupted sleep throughout
  •  Pick up a book instead of your phone and in case you want to check an email at night, make
    sure you lower the brightness of your phone
  •  Make sure to ease yourself 30 minutes before bedtime with a relaxing pre-sleep ritual such
    as a warm bath or soft music
  • Maintain a healthy weight based on your doctor’s suggestions
    Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can also considerably improve the quality of
    your sleep.

The impact of sleep disorders can be so disruptive that you will want immediate relief. Unfortunately, People affected over a long period of time can take more time to set straight than expected. However, it is recommended that if you stick to your treatment plan and regularly talk to your doctor, you can find your way to better sleep.

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