At some point in our lives, for any number of reasons, almost everyone has difficulties falling asleep. But only a few of us know that sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways, and the lack of sleep can lead to significant distress, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poor memory and concentration, low productivity and so on.
Sleep problems can be caused by overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol, may be a side effect of medications, or can develop as secondary effects of another illness, such as arthritis, or a bladder condition, or a psychological disorder such as depression.
It's important to understand why sleep is necessary for optimal health, how the natural hormone melatonin affects sleep and wakefulness, and how the different states and stages of sleep impact sleep quality, quantity, and sleep dreams.
There are several types of sleep disorders. The most common of them is Insomnia - the feeling that you have not slept well or long enough. People who suffer from this disorder stay in bed too long and get up too late in the morning.
Sleep apnea more commonly affects obese people, but it may affect anyone with a short neck or a small jaw, regardless of weight. The disorder causes breathing to stop intermittently during sleep, resulting in the person being awakened repeatedly. Narcolepsy is a condition of daytime sleep attacks as well as other features that may include sleep paralysis and hypnologic hallucinations. Sleep appears necessary for our nervous systems to work properly.
So, abnormal behaviors during sleep such as nightmares, night walking, sleep talking, sweating, rapid heart rate, are called Parasomnias and are usually common in children.
In adults, sleepwalking may also be caused by an organic brain syndrome, reactions to drugs, psychological disorders, and certain medical conditions.
To sum up, sleep is as essential for your well-being as food and water. However, if you experience one of those sleep disorders, there is no reason to be in despair: most sleep disorders, whether caused by physical or mental factors, can be treated or managed effectively once they are properly diagnosed.
New methods for assessing and treating sleep disorders bring hope to the millions suffering from insufficient sleep. Sometimes just having regular sleep habits can help.