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Sleep-Wake Disorders Essay Example

Sleep is a scientific phenomenon that is essential to a human being and animals. It has benefits that help in keeping the body healthy with all systems functioning at optimum levels. Its study describes the stages of sleep with the emphasis on the rapid eye movement stage (REM) and the non rapid eye movement stage (N-rem). These two stages interchange, when one is sleeping with both having significant functions in the resting brain and healing the muscles. The paper also discusses the significance of having sleep and regular patterns of sleep. This is essential for the body to develop a clock, with which it can help the metabolism of cells function and alter when one is asleep. The causes of sleep are also discussed in terms of both biological and environmental perspective. In the study, the discussion of the causes of sleep deficiencies and their impact is well articulated with ease to understand the importance of sleep. The biological cause of release of melatonin chemicals by the body sufficient to activate sleeping is also discussed in the paper. Benefits, such as the relaxation of the mind, ability to remember and learn new information, as well as the physical fitness of a person, are enhanced. The negative effects of excesses are also highlighted, as well as the effects of insufficient sleep. These negative effects include being overweight, obesity and propensity to be irritated. The duration of sleep for various age groups is highlighted to understand the reasons for their needs. The paper gives a detailed explanation of the reason to have different age groups sleep in varied durations. The example of young ones sleeping for about sixteen hours a day is well articulated. The paper concludes with the emphasis on maintaining regular sleeping patterns and quality sufficient sleep. These are the basics of a good healthy life, which are essential similarly to food and oxygen.

Forms of Sleep-Wake Disorders

Sleep is a natural biological state that occurs to both human beings and animals on a daily basis. It is the physical rest that the body requires after the daily activities, in which it engages. It is a necessity of the body to rest on a daily basis in various volumes depending on a person. Different people have different sleeping volumes in terms of the time length they sleep. Overall, a human being requires at least six hours of rest (sleep) on a daily basis. Sleep is normally undertaken by laying the body on a surface, especially a bed. It is psychological from the fact that the hormonal secretion of the prostaglandin D, adenosine, melatonin, and serotonin help to promote sleep. The eyes close from these secretions of chemicals, and many of the internal body activities slow down. The hormonal balance helps the body to rest with all functions still carrying on as usual. This is the main difference between sleep and experiencing a stroke. In addition, a dream also differentiates a person under sleep and the one under a stroke or fainting. The body reacts to the light with the secretion of wakefulness chemicals neuropeptides; hypocretins make one feel the need of remaining awake (Gray, 2004). This paper looks at sleep in detail in terms of its stages, causes, significance, durations needed by each age group, as well as the effects of deficiencies. It also studies sleep disorders and their detrimental effects on a person’s life. It has also highlighted the benefits gained from having enough sleep (Randall, 2012).

Sleep is an integral part of the normal daily rhythm and usually takes all night. Approximately one-sixth of adults suffer from sleep-wake disorders that have the adverse effects on their daily lives. Sleep-wake disorders are the conditions under which it is difficult to fall asleep, sleep is short and choppy, and there is no feeling of relaxation after sleep. It shows up with the delayed sleep, reduced sleep duration and repeated interruption of sleep during the night. People that suffer from sleep-wake disorders can help themselves in many ways. Some pieces of advice how to avoid such disorders are described in the current paper. The paper also explores the main forms of sleep-wake disorders, which people can come across (insomnia, hypersomnia, violations of the sleep and wake). The symptoms, causes and preventative measures of such disorders are covered, as well.

Sleep is a physiological state of relaxation and tranquility, during which the mind almost completely stops its functioning. Approximately one-third of life people spend in sleep. However, the duration of sleep varies throughout the life of every single person. Sleep and its importance for people’s health is an important issue nowadays. Sleep is an integral part of the normal daily rhythm and usually takes all night. The process of sleep and wake changes with age. Newborn babies usually sleep 16 hours per day, and eat every 4 hours. At the age of 1 year, baby sleeps about 14 hours a day, and at the age of 5 years – about 12 hours. The sleep of adolescents usually lasts about 7.5 hours. In the terms of the absence of sleep for several days, a person can rarely sleep more than 17-18 hours on end. Typically, women need a little more time to sleep than men. Duration of sleep decreases with age with a minimum of between 30 to 55 years and slightly increases after 65 years.

Approximately one-sixth of adults suffer from sleep-wake disorders that have the adverse effects on their lives. It is a fairly common problem. It occurs at any age and affects the health condition of the person. According to McCurry (2007): Sleep complaints are common in older adults. Epidemiological studies have shown that 30% – 60% of all older persons have one or more sleep complaints, including difficulty falling asleep, problems staying asleep at night or falling back sleep after awakening, early morning awakenings, excessive daytime sleepiness, and daytime fatigue. Sleep-wake disorders are the conditions under which it is difficult to fall asleep, sleep is short and choppy, and there is no feeling of relaxation after sleep. It shows up with the delayed sleep, reduced sleep duration and repeated interruption of sleep during the night.

There are two different stages of sleep that one undergoes so as to sleep:

  • The N-Rem (non rapid eye movement) Sleep period, where one is totally asleep and cannot recall anything. At this stage, the brain is at rest, though all processes function as usual. It is the stage commonly called deep sleep.
  • The rem-Sleep period is where there is a rapid movement of the eyes, which occurs in alternate periods within the sleeping period. It mostly occurs just before deep sleep and when about to wake up. It is the stage where dreams are thought and where sleep walking is experienced for some people.

Sleep is based on the body clock, where the time the body normally rests is when sleep occurs with the secretion of the chemicals in the body. These chemicals promote the activation of sleep. The secretion of melatonin hormones activates sleep, and when it is at peak, then the body should be put to rest. In addition, the timing from the body clock is another factor that causes sleep as the normal rhythm for the body requires the body to rest for some time (Autret, Lader, & European Sleep Research Society, 1997).

Different age’s groups of people require different levels of sleep. There are many scholars and biologists advocating for about sixteen hours of sleep for young ones, who are growing, for their growth and development. The teenage group should have at least 9 or 10 hours, while adults should have at least 7 hours of sleep on a daily basis. This pattern is often distorted due to different activities, in which people engage.

There are various reasons why sleep is essential in life. It is a basic necessity just like food, shelter, breathing and clothing. It is similar to how blood and oxygen are essential to life. Getting sufficient sleep is a requirement for a healthy life and achieving the maximum growth and body development. There are various benefits in having sufficient sleep. They are discussed below.

One of the benefits is a proper functioning of the brain and emotional well being: sleep helps the brain to relax and prepare for the following task after sleep. It helps the brain to prepare new fresh pathways, in which it is effective to channel the upcoming tasks for an easy remembrance and learning. Various studies show the strong evidence of the importance of having enough sleep for an easy learning and storage of information. Some studies also show that learning any new activity or information needs fresh minds for easy understanding. Creativity is enhanced by jogging the mind with a solution based problems. Deficiencies in getting sufficient sleep cause the lack of comprehension attentiveness in class work among children and teenagers. Insufficient sleep makes people have mood swings and be impulsive with ease to anger. There is little or no motivation for the efficient performance of tasks. In school going children, insufficient sleep would be the reason of the low grade performance in the classroom (Glazer & Interactive Medical Networks 2003).

Sleep enhances the physical health: sleep is essential for the physical growth and development of the body. A relevant example is the involvement of sleep in healing and repair of the blood vessels. The duration of sleep is vital as it should be sufficient and not in excess. Detrimental effects are present with excess sleep, including becoming obese or suffering from the high blood pressure. This is correct because of the lack of activeness associated with sleep. Some other detrimental effects of inadequate sleep include a heart failure, diabetes stroke, etc. Sleep deficiency would also increase obesity chances. It is essential to have enough sleep for the healthy balance of the hormones, which are essential for the vital processes of the body. Deep sleep helps trigger hormones for the growth in children and teenagers, while the development of the body mass occurs. These hormones also help in repairing the cells and developing the fertility and puberty functions in young adults and teens. Another benefit from adequate sleep helps in boosting the immune system as the body knows how to respond to any foreign attack. It is documented that people with problems fighting common ailments may have deficiencies in the amount of sleep (Lewis, 2012).

Sleep also contributes towards the quality performance of activities during the day; the rest that sleep offers help to revitalize the body from the previous day’s work. The productive is at optimum from having sufficient sleep with no deficiencies or excess. Sleep deficiencies or its lack renders one less productive in work or at school. This may cause micro sleep, where one sleeps during tasks making one less attentive. Sleep deficiencies and effects of micro sleep would be harmful depending on the work performed. For example, micro sleep while driving could be dangerous for the driver, as well as the passengers or other road users. A person working with machinery in a factory would endanger his life, while experiencing micro sleep due to sleep deficiencies. In other studies, deficiencies have also caused tragic accidents on a large scale, for example, nuclear meltdowns or aviation accidents (Glazer & Interactive Medical Networks 2003).

The risk of sleep deprivation cuts across races, personality’s ages and ethnicities as it affects individuals and not communities. It is not inherent to a certain race or community but affects any person. The main causes of sleep deficiencies are analyzed below.

Work and financial constraints can be explained by the fact that hard economic times make people overwork to make some extra coins; it is evident that people minimize their resting period for increasing their earnings. It is through various studies that many of the adults in America have such sleeping deficiencies in trying to work in multiple jobs for extra earnings. It is a common feature in immigrants as they try to meet their survival needs. It also affects many mainstream Americans due to the high cost of living. Ailments and diseases would also contribute to sleep deficiencies, as well as its excess. These include ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure and obesity. These are some of the ailments that set in from the lack of sufficient sleep, as well as having too much sleep (Brown, 2001).

It is evident that sleep is a significant activity that the body should undertake on a daily basis. It is also clear that sleep has its healthy benefits, ranging from the quality health, increased productivity and helping the brain settle from the exhaustion. The remembrance and learning process are dependent on the sufficiency of sleep that one gets. Low levels of sleep or excess levels render a person inactive and moody with a high irritation propensity. The stages of sleep are discussed as being the REM sleep stage and the non-REM sleep stage. The causes of sleep are also discussed in terms of the hormonal cause melatonin to the body clock, which dictates the sleeping patterns. The sleep duration varies from age groups as various scholars indicate with different reasons. Children have longer sleeping hours for their healthy growth. They need maximum resting periods as they have active growth hormones within sleeping periods. Adults have short sleep time because of the activities they undertake and as the growth requirements are not essential in maturity. Teenage and school going children need about 9-10 hours of sleep for the growth and development of their body, especially at the puberty stage. It also helps the development of fertility cells and hormones. Although this is essential, the paper has also discussed sleep disorders and how they affect sleeping patterns. Disorders have detrimental health effects such as heart diseases, overweight and obesity, as well as the lack of activeness. Other effects of sleep disorders as highlighted in the paper are irritability and boredom, not being attentive, as well as increased risks of accidents. It is also evident that some of behaviors to avoid maintaining a good sleep pattern include a low or lack of indulgence in the alcohol intake, tobacco smoking and drug intake. The sleep patterns should be maintained to avoid the sleeping disorders setting. Various disorders have their effects on the body and mental health of a person from the mental instability to the lack of memory.

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The conflicts in the body clock and the real timing for sleeping are a crucial aspect. Occasionally, some people may change their usual time of sleeping, which alters the overall body timing for sleeping. This makes a distortion in the sleeping pattern that causes deficiencies in sleep amounts. This distortion causes irregularities in the body metabolism processes.

There are various forms of sleep-wake disorders: insomnia, hypersomnia, restless leg syndrome, as well as violations of the sleep and wake. They all have their symptoms, causes and treatments.

  • The Restless Leg Syndrome

It is a sleeping disorder that affects the leg with pains until there is a movement of the legs. It is a disorder that affects people at night when sleeping. It has catastrophic impacts as it leaves one fatigued during his or her productive period. It affects all genders, with the varying severity in symptoms and occurrence. It also affects a person frequently if left untreated and as age continues. Although the restless leg syndrome has no known cause, it is widely believed that it might be a genetic disorder. This disorder makes it hard for easy travelling, and in serious cases, may lead to an acute depression and stress. Studies show a reduced intake of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco helps to reduce chances of the rest leg syndrome setting. In addition, having continuous sufficient sleep with regular patterns, exercise and massaging helps in reducing the effects of the rest leg syndrome disorder (Ross, Brenner, & Goldberg, 2000).

  • Hypnophobia

It is a sleep disorder characterized by the fear of sleep. It is a disorder triggered by an incident or event either experienced in life or having watched on television. It is also characterized by persistent nightmares. It is more of an anxiety disorder than a sleep disorder, but affects the sleeping patterns and duration of sleep. It is treatable by the cognitive therapy as it manages to treat anxiousness of people with such disorders (Brown, 2001).

Different studies show that insomnia and hypnophobia are the main sleeping disorders affecting the majority of people. Experiences of nightmares and the lack of sleep are common in depressed and stressed persons. Sleep disorders are on the increase, especially in America, due to the need to work extra hours for economic gains. A substantial percentage of mature adults sleep less than the recommended 7 hours trying to get additional jobs for their economic benefits. Children are also deprived of some quality sleep, because of the considerable amount of assignments from school that result in the insufficient sleep time (Brown, 2001).

  • Insomnia

It is another sleep disorder that has a characterization of the lack of sleep. It is the difficulty to fall asleep or difficulty in staying asleep. It may lead to memory problems, irritability, depression and increased risk of heart ailments. It is also a contributor to motor vehicle related accidents.

Although insomnia does not discriminate by the age group, it is common in the elderly people. It may also be caused by the persistent intake of psychoactive drugs and other hard drugs. It has serious implications to a person’s health, including the increased risk of diabetes, poor immune function system and heart disease. The basic treatment consists of a cognitive behavioral therapy as well as antidepressants. Medication with melatonin is also prescribed to help in increasing its levels in the body. It helps to have active sleep (Roth & Lee-Chiong, 2006).

Insomnia is a clinical disorder connected with difficulties with falling asleep, nocturnal awakening and nervous sleep, which does not restore ones energy. According to Pagel (2001):
Insomnia is an extremely common complaint. Transient insomnia (< 2 weeks in duration) affects up to 80% of the population on a yearly basis. Chronic insomnia affects 15% of the population. In the 1990s in the United States, 2.6% of adults were using prescription sedative-hypnotic medications and 3.1%, over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications (primarily antihistamines).
The need for sleep is very individual. Someone needs 5 hours of sleep per day, while others sleep for 10 hours per day. Almost a quarter of the world’s population is often faced with sleep disorder and this problem increases with age.

Sleep is needed in order to recuperate and relax after a hard day of chores and work. However, not everyone can boast about a sound sleep. The problem of insomnia is complicated by the fact that there is no reason that leads to insomnia, as well as there is no universal medicine to cure it. Defective holidays, permanent nerve stress, stressful pace of life are all the reasons for chronic fatigue.

Insomnia can be grueling, and long; in other words, the human sleep might be accompanied by nightmares and vivid dreams. It can also be caused by diseases of the nervous system, shortness of breath, coughing attacks, and circulatory disorder.

People, whose work is related to mental work, often suffer from insomnia. Such people overstrain themselves and spend strength irrationally. Among these people, there are those who prefer to cheer themselves up with strong coffee or tea. However, it only relieves fatigue for a short time, so fatigue is not removed, but rather continues to grow. To avoid nervous insomnia, one should try not to engage in mental, hard work in the evenings. It is better to be engaged in activities that stimulate the nervous system.

Insomnia has three different classifications, including:

  • Transient insomnia lasts less than seven days. It is mainly caused by changes in sleeping patterns or change of environment.
  • Acute insomnia is the inability to have continuous sleep for a period of about one month. It is often brought by stress and treated from that angle by the psychiatrist. It is the inability to initiate sleep.
  • Chronic insomnia is the inability to get sleepy for more than a month. It is insomnia caused by some other disorder. High levels of stress hormones and cytokines would increase the risk of chronic insomnia. It has effects ranging from muscular fatigue, hallucinations as well as mental fatigue (Roth & Lee-Chiong, 2006).

Typical symptoms of insomnia are:

  • Difficulties falling asleep (when a person needs 45 minutes or more to fall asleep).
  • Nervous sleep (frequent night wakening and difficulties with falling asleep again).
  • Early morning awakening.

People who suffer from insomnia can help themselves in many ways:

The methods of treatment of insomnia are also called sleep hygiene. Here are some pieces of advice how to avoid insomnia. A person should try to stay awake during the day. It is also necessary to reduce the consumption of coffee, especially in the afternoon and not to consume a lot of alcohol. People who smoke should try to give up the habit. Smokers often face the problem of violation of the respiratory rhythm during sleep. It is better to be engaged in sports regularly, but avoid intense physical activity just before bedtime. One should try to keep the daily diet: every day go to bed and wake up at the same time. It is advisable to skip eating fatty meals, especially in the afternoon and just before bedtime. If a person cannot fall asleep for a long time, he or she could try getting up and read a little in the night light. It is better not to turn on the TV and try not to think about the fact that you cannot fall asleep.

In order to relax, a person can take the warm bath, drink a glass of milk and listen to nice light music. Thoughts of unfinished business do not help to relax. It is advisable to write down all the things that one has to do the next day. It will help to fall asleep peacefully without morning awakening.

In order to treat insomnia, psychologists use the simple relaxation techniques. Conversational therapy (psychotherapy) is often very effective. It helps to understand many life events – such as bereavement, problems in marriage and others that are the hidden causes of insomnia.

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People who suffer from insomnia can buy certain medicines in the pharmacy without a prescription that help to treat insomnia. In conjunction with the above methods of hygiene sleep, these drugs are very effective. Hypnotic antihistamines are very effective drugs but they can leave in the body for a long time that can cause morning hangover.

  • Hypersomnia

It is an increase in sleep duration by about a quarter of the normal duration of sleep of the person. Healthy people sleep from 5 to 12 hours (7.5 hours on weekdays and 8.5 – on weekends). There are two types of hypersomnia:

  • Physiological hypersomnia is an increased duration of sleep after physical or emotional overloads (lasts no more than a few days).
  • Pathologic hypersomnia usually develops at a young age and can lead to the destruction of social contacts and loss of skills.

The main symptoms of hypersomnia are the following: prolongation of a night’s sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness (especially when performing monotonous operations), inability to sleep, the feeling of “sleepy drunk” and an inability to “wake up to the end”).

Less common than insomnia is hypersomnia; it is a symptom that indicates the serious illness. According to Bassetti (1997): Diencephalic tumours, encephalitis and stroke were recognized as causes of hypersomnia at the turn of the last century and, following the descriptions by Ge´lineau (1880) and Adie (1926), narcolepsy was recognized as the principal form of non-structural hypersomnia, with intoxications, endocrinopathies and psychogenic hypersomnias representing its major differential diagnosis. Temporary hypersomnia often occurs in healthy people for a few nights or days after a strong lack of sleep or excessive physical exertion. Hypersomnia, which lasts longer, may be a symptom of a mental disorder, such as severe anxiety or depression, hypnotic drug overdose, lack of oxygen and an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the body as a result of sleep apnea; as well as diseases of the brain. Chronic hypersomnia, which occurs at the early age, is a symptom of narcolepsy.

Successful treatment of hypersomnia is closely linked to the effective treatment of the disease, one of the symptoms of which hypersomnia is. If a full recovery of underlying disease is impossible then the treatment of hypersomnia is directed at maximizing the quality of life of the patient.

The adherence of sleep is of great importance in the treatment of hypersomnia. A patient has to exclude work in evening and night shifts, follow to the same time of falling asleep, be sure to include in his/ her daily activity 1-2 daytime naps. It is desirable that the duration of a night’s sleep does not exceed 9 hours. In the terms of idiopathic hypersomnia, it is recommended to have 45 minutes daytime sleep. Patients should also avoid alcohol and fat meals, as well as eating just before bedtime.
In order to eliminate daytime sleepiness with hypersomnia, patients can take stimulants: pemoline, dextroamphetamine, modafinil, mazindol, and propranolol. If the patient suffers from cataplexy, then he/ she has to take antidepressants: protriptyline, imipramine, clomipramine, fluoxetine, and viloxazine. Dosages of these drugs are selected individually, trying to achieve maximum therapeutic efficacy with minimal side effects.

Violation of the sleep and awakening is associated with a sharp change in work schedule or time zone, fatigue and stress.

  • Parasomnias

There is also such a problem as parasomnias. It implies a disturbance in the functioning of organs and systems that are associated with sleep or awakening. The examples of parasomnias disorders are sleepwalking, enuresis, and night terrors. It is known that sleep comprises a great part in the man’s health. Sleep disorders have significant effects on people.

Therefore, it is important to follow a regular sleep pattern, daily routine stability, and doctor’s suggestions referring to the personal sleep time. As one can notice, any symptoms for sleep disorders (general tiredness, inattentiveness, difficulties with concentration, irritation, depression, anxiety, problems with falling asleep, frequent waking, etc.) requires following the sleep hygiene. Sleep-wake disorders do not bring pleasure, they just spoil the mood and knock all the plans, and they clearly must be addressed. If the causes of sleep-wake disorders are not as severe, they do not require special treatment. There is no need in taking sleeping pills immediately. It is better to try tested folk remedies. It is necessary to set strict daily routine and try to stick with it, falling asleep and waking up every day at the same time. It is better not drink alcohol before bedtime, preferably to have a walk in the fresh air and take a warm bath and drink a glass of milk, as it was mentioned above. In the evening, instead of watching television, it is better to read a book or listen to calm music. In the terms of severe cases, sleep-wake disorder should be treated with medication under the doctor’s supervision. By following these simple pieces of advice, people will live healthier lives and will not endanger their health.

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