Sleep is a basic human need that is critical to our physical and mental health. However, many Canadian adults don’t quality sleep they need, and wake up each morning feeling unrested.
The consequences of getting less sleep than you need are numerous: decreased energy, irritability, depression and anxiety, heart disease and diabetes are just a few examples.
Recent studies have shown that in today’s 24/7 world, insufficient sleep is common. About one-third of Canadians sleep fewer hours per night than recommended for optimal physical and mental health.
Of course, poor sleep hygiene (like scrolling through your phone before bed) can contribute to restless nights. But it’s important to ensure a more serious issue, such as a sleep disorder, is not present.
A sleep disorder is defined as a condition that affects our ability to sleep.
There are numerous medical and psychological disorders that can contribute to poor sleep. In this blog, we’ll review some of the most common sleep disorders, and how they can contribute to sleep that is short in duration, and poor in quality.
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring is often dismissed as a common condition that affects many people. Although it can be annoying and irritating for a partner, snoring can also be linked to a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common and often undiagnosed sleep disorder. People with sleep apnea stop breathing many times throughout the night. The episodes of apnea (not breathing) are caused by soft tissue in the throat collapsing.
Snoring is a strong marker for identifying sleep apnea. Other symptoms include restless sleep patterns and daytime sleepiness.
Insomnia is a complicated condition that varies between individuals. People with this condition usually have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Acute insomnia is brief and is usually related to life stressors. Chronic insomnia occurs at least three nights per week and lasts for at least one month. Treatment of the condition varies depending on the cause.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome (also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease) causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs, and an irresistible urge to move them.
The symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening, and become more severe at night while sitting or lying in bed. The condition is categorized as a sleep disorder because symptoms are triggered when resting or trying to sleep. Restless Leg Syndrome can affect people of all ages.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
When we are unable to get to sleep at night, or have difficulty waking up in the morning, it could be due to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Your circadian rhythm is also known as your internal clock. This internal clocks helps your body to know when it’s time to sleep, and be awake. This disorder is very common amongst people who work shifts or suffer jet lag.
People with narcolepsy find it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time, and experience overwhelming daytime drowsiness accompanied by a sudden need to sleep. They may experience symptoms which include cataplexy, sleep paralysis and changes in REM sleep.
Quality sleep greatly contributes to living a healthy and happy life! If you feel your sleep is affecting your mental or physical health, it’s important to reach out to a qualified professional.