“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.”
“Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone!”
Nothing feels quite like waking up refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead of you. However, while we all know how important sleep is, many of us still struggle to fall asleep at night. Moreover, I am willing to wager that many of us also always seem to wake up fatigued, no matter how long we have slept. If you have trouble sleeping it is possible that you may have one of several common sleeping disorders. The following guide is here to help you identify why you are struggling to get the satisfactory sleep you need (and deserve).
Monkey Brain Syndrome
A common disorder that owes its namesake to restless Buddhist monks. The Monkey Brain is that part of your consciousness that just won’t stay still while you are trying to fall asleep. Monkey Brain acts much like a monkey, jumping around from topic to topic while you are trying to fall asleep with an unsettled/restless energy that flashes unsettled, whimsical, fanciful, confused, indecisive and uncontrollable thoughts. Causes include:
- Excessive stimulation (coffee, tea, sugar)
- Not having proper pre-sleep preparation or relaxation routine
Snoring may not always seem serious, but it can be a big strain on both a good nights sleep and your (or your potential) relationships. Snoring is also hard to pin down because it can have many causes.
First though, what is snoring? Snoring is the vibration of the tissues of the airways of the nose and throat, caused by turbulent airflows flowing through their narrowed passages. Snoring is actually fairly common, with some studies estimating that between 30-40% of all men and women snore on a regular basis. Common causes of snoring include:
- Incorrect sleeping position (Incorrect pillow firmness/softness; laying on ones back as opposed to ones side)
- Alcohol, smoking, and certain medications that can cause excessive relaxation of through muscles
- A variety of underlying health issues such as insomnia, sleep apnea, obesity, and structural issues with the airway or throat
If your snoring seems to be serious, or you suspect it may be linked to an underlying factor, it is important to check out these concerns as snoring tends to interrupt the sleep cycle of both you and those around you. However, there are also several “over-the-counter” and home remedies for snoring that are worth looking into.
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that is characterized by a general difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. It can range in its effects and severity, though people with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
- A difficulty falling asleep.
- Waking up frequently during the night, and struggling to go back to sleep.
- Waking up early in the morning for no apparent reason.
- Feeling fatigued upon waking.
- Noticeable drop in concentration or memory.
Insomnia can range from being transient or acute (short-term) to chronic condition (long-term).
If you suspect you may have Chronic Insomnia, then that is best handled by a health professional as chronic insomnia can be either a symptom of, or an eventual contributor to, severe health problems such as depression, chronic stress, and serious physical health problems. Acute Insomnia is generally related to stress factors, both emotional and physical. Generally short-term insomnia can be handled through simple lifestyle adjustments and successfully recognizing what stress factors are causing poor sleep quality. Such stress factors might include:
- Significant life stress (a change in environment brought on by moving, the death of a loved one, moving, divorce)
- Physical and emotional factors
- Environmental discomfort brought on by extreme heat, cold, light or noise.
- Certain medications (always check warning labels)
- Changes in ones normal sleep schedule (jet lag or job shift changes)
A potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or periodic swallow breathing during sleep. Generally recognized by excessive snoring, daytime drowsiness, generally restless sleep, and in more serious cases a tendency to stop breathing during sleep. Generally, sleep apnea is a chronic condition and if you suspect to have it you should consult a health professional. There are several kinds of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea– the most common form of sleep apnea, this occurs when there is an obstruction of your air intake tube due to a relaxation of the through muscles that normally do not obstruct the windpipe. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can have several causes that include:
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Muscles in the back of your throat relaxing to cause obstruction of air intake, generally due to structural features of the throat or obesity
Central Sleep Apnea– a more serious (and rare) condition that occurs when the brain fails to transmit signals that tell your breathing muscles to intake air. Central sleep apnea will generally result in the sleeper waking up with a shortness of breath and high heart rate, unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is often not remembered by the sleeper.
Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep eludes many of us in this era of almost constant stimulation. Hopefully this guide has put you on the path to identifying what is keeping you from getting some quality zzz’s. However, if your sleep cycle seems beyond lifestyle changes, you might need to consult outside help and services. It takes patience and a bit of work, but you can solve your sleep problems so long as you’re willing to take the time.