Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Effect of insomnia- Death from lack of sleep

I can’t sleep!

I’m having sleep deprivation!


I have a close friend who often shares his woes to me about not being able to sleep well. He seldom exercises and feels lethargic when he misses his daily pull ups and jogs. Due to his busy schedule, he has to sleep late. In the morning, he suffers from daytime sleepiness and often has sore throat and flu throughout the day whenever he does not have a good night’s rest. He wishes to wake up for work every morning, feeling refreshed with a clear mind and an evenly balanced mood. Could you be facing such symptoms as well?


What is sleep?

As stress mounts on the society to work longer hours, it indirectly affects the quality and quantity of sleep that determines a good night’s rest. During sleep, our senses are totally disengaged and we are temporarily unresponsive to our environment.

Sleep is important to health, and lack of sleep can lead to problems with our immunity, heart and circulatory system, hormone secretion and more. Poor quality or insufficient sleep can lead to impairment of daytime functioning, excessive daytime sleepiness and progressive memory loss.

How much sleep do we need?

Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years) require an average of 8.5-10 hours while adults would need 7.5-9 hours of sleep. Most adults actually sleep between 6-8 hours a day and they are often deprived of sleep.

The best way to assess whether you are meeting your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. Feeling energetic and alert all day long means that you are logging enough hours!

Besides the amount of sleep, we also should take note of the quality of sleep. Most people who are generally sleep deprived do not enjoy sufficient deep sleep. Deep sleep is the time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, stimulating growth and development, repairing muscles and tissues, and boosting your immune system.

Could you be suffering from a sleep disorder?

Many people around me are unaware that they could be having sleep disorders. They could be having excessive daytime sleepiness, excessive movement during sleep, sleep apnea, snoring, narcolepsy or even sleep-walking.

However, they are not doing anything about it.

A sleep disorder is an abnormality in the state or progression of sleep. Being unaware of the symptoms and finding a treatment for the disorder, this could mount to long-term insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a symptom which defines inadequate or poor quality sleep which could be due to:

• Difficulty in falling asleep

• Difficulty in staying asleep

• Waking up too early in the morning and unable to get back to sleep

• Un-refreshing sleep

This condition which plagues many Singaporeans both young and old may be divided into situational factors, medical or psychiatric conditions, or primary sleep problems. Insomnia increases with age and is more common in women. People over 65 years of age generally have approximately 1.5 times higher rates of sleep difficulty compared with adults below the age of 65.

The duration of symptoms can be classified into transient, short-term or chronic. Transient insomnia generally last less than seven days; short-term insomnia usually lasts for about one to three weeks, and chronic insomnia lasts for more than three weeks.

What causes insomnia?

I have been doing observational studies for some time with people around me. The most common reason which causes insomnia is stress, anxiety and also poor lifestyle habit.

However, there are also many other health conditions which will lead to sleep disorders. Below are just a handful of conditions,

• Excessive snoring

• Chronic illness e.g diabetes

• Ageing

• Menopause

But we all have to agree that despite most trying to change their lifestyle by exercising and eating right, the problem still remains because of lack of time and motivation to change.

What is the possible problems insomnia will cause?

Sleep disorders and insomnia can result in accidents at work and on the road because it reduces your concentration level resulting in poor alertness and slow response. Many people with ongoing insomnia problems become depressed or generally agitated. Insomnia can also worsen an underlying medical condition.

Can Insomnia be treated?

Insomnia treatments are available. Before treatment can be administered, you have to first diagnose the primary cause for insomnia. It can be treated with short term use of sedative medications which are prescription, non-prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids, sleep hygiene, alternative therapies, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therefore it’s important to understand the type of treatment available to avoid any serious repercussions to one’s health.

Are you curious whether you are having sleep difficulty? Or like to know which extent of sleeplessness you are facing?

Opt-in to my mailing list and get in touch with me for a wellness screening to better understand the condition of your body which may be affecting your quality of sleep every day.

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