Sleep disorders have become a significant health issue in the United States and around the world. Presently approximately 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders.
From a mental health point of view this is not good news. If we are tired it is not only more likely to mean we are irritable it also means we cannot perform as well in our jobs and in our responsibilities such as parenting.
But also it’s more likely that as we cannot function in our best way we are more likely to suffer from the main types of mental illness. This includes mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, trauma and addiction.
In this era of uncertainty and loss due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people will also be prone to mental illness. Conditions such as anxiety and trauma are more likely as people lose loved ones or have concerns over such as elderly parents, worry over catching the virus and struggle with illness it they catch it.
Then there are the business collapses and job losses with the disappointments and financial worries this causes. Many people are having to work even more hours to keep their businesses in order and this can lead to executive burnout.
All of this contributes to losing peace of mind – and that makes sleep much harder for many people. Some people will turn to alcohol in an attempt to sleep better.
Or they may try other drugs especially cannabis. But neither alcohol or cannabis makes for a better sleep or for feeling refreshed the next day. In fact in addiction recovery circles they talk of this as passing out rather than falling asleep and coming to instead of waking up.
A lack of sleep has a negative impact on physical health as well. Not only will the body not be as reinvigorated, due to tiredness it makes it less likely that people will exercise – with its known benefits to mental and emotional wellbeing.
Similarly, people who are tired are less inclined to get into the fresh air with the benefits of being in nature. Wellbeing will suffer as this disconnection with nature is seen as one of the reasons for an increase in mental health problems.
What are the main sleep disorders?
This is the inability to get to sleep or sleep well at night. It can be caused by anxiety, stress, depression, stressful life events, trauma, a physical health condition, variable work shifts, too much caffeine, and some medications.
About one in three adults in America have short-term insomnia. One in ten have chronic insomnia – which is a sleep problem that lasts for at least a month.
- Sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects 22 million Americans. It means that the person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts again. Often without realizing it is happening this badly affects their sleep.
Common signs of sleep apnea are:
- Sweating at night.
- Loud snoring.
- Noticing episodes of stopping breathing during sleep.
- Suddenly waking up and choking or gasping.
- Having a sore throat or dry mouth when waking up.
- Regular headaches in the morning.
- Daytime sleepiness.
- Concentration difficulties.
- Feeling irritable.
- Feeling depressed.
- Having little energy, including a decreased sex drive.
- High blood pressure.
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Around five percent of the US population and up to 10 percent of people aged 65 or over have RLS. As its name suggests it is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs.
This is frequently due to an uncomfortable feeling in the thighs, calves and feet. Sometimes the arms can be affected too.
Usually it happens in the evening or nighttime when someone is sitting down or in bed. Some have the symptoms every day but for others it can be just once in a while.
Symptoms vary from mild to severe. In most cases, there’s no clear reason although it does sometimes seem to run in families.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by unexpected and abrupt sleep attacks. People with narcolepsy often have problems staying awake for any lengthy period.
It affects 200,000 Americans and about three million people around the world. But only around one in four people with narcolepsy have been diagnosed.
For some people, narcolepsy also means a sudden loss of muscle tone. Known as cataplexy this is a medical condition in which strong positive emotions such as excitement or laughter cause a person to suffer sudden physical collapse even though they remain conscious.
This means such as their knees buckle or their head may hang downwards uncontrollably. Sometimes negative emotions like fear or anger can lead to it too.
It can also cause slurred speech. It usually lasts up to a few minutes each time.
Narcolepsy symptoms include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness with decreased alertness and concentration throughout the day.
- Sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy).
- Sleep paralysis, a temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep or as waking up. It usually lasts for a few seconds up to a few minutes.
- Hallucinations as someone falls asleep and/or wakes up.
- Falling asleep while doing something someone regularly does such as driving or writing. They can continue the task but perform it poorly – and cannot recall it when waking up.
How to treat sleep disorders
Depending on the person and the sleep disorder there are many successful treatments. Here at Tikvah Lake Recovery we will start by looking at anything that might be disrupting getting a decent sleep – adults should get seven to eight hours of good sleep every night.
“Your first thing should be to tackle anything that’s disturbing your sleep, such as looking at emails in bed,” says Dr Guy Meadows, a sleep expert who is the author of The Sleep Book: How to Sleep Well Every Night. “The light from the screen is not good for sleep as it informs the brain it’s still daytime and releases cortisol, the waking hormone.”
Dr Meadows has what at first sounds like an unusual tip to get a decent night’s sleep. He says the best sleepers are people who do nothing about falling asleep.
“Ask a good sleeper what they do to get to sleep and they’ll look at you blankly and say: ‘Nothing.’ They simply put their head on the pillow.
“But ask someone who struggles to get to sleep and you’ll hear a detailed list of dos and don’ts, their description of a wind-down period before bed and techniques they use to cope with wakefulness throughout the night.
“What I have learnt from listening to countless people who suffer from sleeplessness is that if the focus of your life becomes getting rid of it, then paradoxically you can end up becoming stuck with it.”
He explains how good sleep comes from doing nothing other than getting into bed and putting your head on the pillow. Dr Meadows says the secret to a decent night’s sleep is about letting go of trying to force it.
Our team has helped many people over the years to find ways to get good sleep back again. Certainly here at Tikvah Lake Recovery we have designed everything with total relaxation of our guests in mind. The house and its bedrooms are complete five-star luxury.
Then there’s the tranquil ambience. This is enhanced by the calm lake that laps up around us – and that’s so beneficial to everyone’s recovery.
The year-round glorious sunny Florida climate is second to none and helps with relaxation every day. Rest assured as well, that we are fortunate to be in a region of Florida with a very low number of COVID-19 cases.
We offer every guest who stays with us a completely personalized treatment program. This means one-on-one sessions with Tikvah Lake’s compassionate and experienced team specializing in substance abuse, addictions, and all mental health disorders.
Find out more by contacting one of our experts today.