Sleep Disorders and Their Effective Management

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This article gives a brief overview of the commonly occurring sleep disorders namely insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, snoring and narcolepsy and the various measures to ensure effective management of these conditions.

Insomnia: Understanding the condition and its effective management

An acute or persistent failure to sleep. It is a very common sleep disorder and is triggered by a host of causes: stress, change in time-zones, changed sleep schedule, poor bed-time habits and severe dietary errors.

Certain techniques, like relaxation and de-stressing, better sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), treat insomnia and encourage better health.

Treatment using sleeping pills should be the last choice for insomnia. They do not grant a permanent treatment and come with many side effects. Certain foods that induce peaceful sleep are: warm milk and honey, warm milk and nutmeg and warm milk and saffron.

Sleep Apnea: Managing Sleep Apnea

It is a sleep disorder that can turn very grave. In this sleep disorder, breathing gets shallow or may even stop. The gap in breathing lasts 10 - 20 seconds, and the breaks in breathing occur 20 - 30 times in an hour. Consequently, the individual awakens to breathe and this disturbs the sleep. Causes of sleep apnea are over-weight and obesity, enlarged tonsils or nasal blockage.

Optimum weight loss, raising the head-side of the bed or sleeping on your side are effective techniques for mild sleep apnea. Surgery and certain dental procedures are other treatment options.

Snoring and its management

Snoring is caused due the narrowing of the airway because of a bad sleep posture, excessive weight or due to physical anomalies in the throat.

For mild snorers, sleeping on the side, raising the head of the bed, or losing excessive weight helps.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Characteristics and Management

RLS is a condition where there is an overpowering desire to move the legs. The impulse to move the limbs occurs while lying down and is typically due to a tingling or creeping sensation in the legs. Moving the legs eases the sensation for a short while. RLS is associated with some medical conditions, like kidney disease, anemia, pregnancy, thyroid disorders or Parkinson’s disease.

Effective and lasting treatment for RSL includes the use of alternative therapies such as homoeopathy, acupressure, Ayurveda and Yoga, lifestyle modifications, and nutritional supplements.

What is Narcolepsy and How can it be effectively Managed?

Narcolepsy is a neurological aliment that manifests as excessive sleepiness and could make an individual fall asleep unexpectedly and without any forewarning. The exact cause for the disorder is not known. The ‘sleep attacks’ take place even after sleeping well at night.

The treatment for narcolepsy is a multi-disciplinary approach and necessitates a blend of behavioral treatments, medicines, lifestyle changes and counseling.


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Dr Shweta U Shah

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