Tips & Advice
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is a condition that affects people who travel rapidly across multiple time zones (usually via aircraft). It is a physiological condition classified as a circadian rhythm condition because it affects the body’s circadian rhythm. It is characterized by lethargy and exhaustion. Jet lag is usually more common traveling west to east, versus east to west. While not curable, it typically ceases on its own once the recipient acclimates to the new environment.
Sleepwalking is the act of getting up while still asleep and walking--just like it sounds. Sleepwalking is most common in children, but there are occurrences in adults, too. Most sleepwalking episodes are harmless, but there can be instances of more aggressive behavior, like climbing out a window or exiting a door. While there are treatments that can help, there is no known cure. Must children sufferers grow out of it by their teens. It is not considered an overly serious condition, unless, of course, the sleepwalker engages in dangerous behavior during episodes, in which case treatment should be sought.
Night terrors are when a person partially awakens in a state of terror, as if coming out of an extreme nightmare. Episodes may include extreme screaming and crying and can turn physical, and can cause a real fight-or-flight response. Night terrors are caused by over-arousal of the central nervous system, and while, most cases are in children, there are instances of adult onset night terror. Most episodes are forgotten quickly, or not remembered at all. Night terrors are distinctly different from nightmares in that they usually occur between the third and fourth stages of the sleep cycle, while nightmares occur during the REM cycle in. They may be related to an existing medical or mental health condition, and can be treated but not cured.
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome is a condition in which the afflicted suffers from in irresistible urge to move their legs in an effort to stop uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs, such as itchiness or pins and needles. As unusual as it sounds, it’s actually quite common. It is typically found in the legs, but can be in other parts of the body, as well. Usually there is no identifiable cause of this condition and it can worsen with age and prevent good sleep. Self-help methods like getting up and walking around, some medications and lifestyle changes can all temporarily alleviate, but not cure, restless leg syndrome. There is no known cause or cure.
Hypersomnia is a condition which symptoms are excessive sleepiness during the day and episodes of sleep lasting 10 hours or more and the inability to feel rested or refreshed. Hypersomnia can be dangerous and even life threatening as sufferers are prone to falling asleep at any time during the day, even while driving. There is no consensus on the cause. To treat hypersomnia, start by getting checked for sleep apnea, avoid alcohol, check any prescription medications, stay active, and take the Epworth test that helps diagnose hypersomnia. Consult your physician as hypersomnia is a serious condition.
Narcolepsy is a serious neurological condition in which the person has excessive or uncontrollable daytime drowsiness or overwhelming sleepiness. It is also characterized by sleep paralysis and even hallucinations. One of the main causes of narcolepsy is believed to be the lack of sleep regulating chemical hypocretin in the brain, possibly because the immune system is mistakenly attacking the part of the brain that produces hypocretin. There are two types of narcolepsy; narcolepsy with cataplexy in which the afflicted person can experience sudden muscle weakness and loss of control; and narcolepsy without cataplexy, which does not have all the muscle afflictions.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing is suddenly interrupted during sleep. It typically features pauses in breathing that can last from seconds to minutes and can be potentially dangerous. It can be lead to high blood pressure and sometimes be a symptom of diabetes.
Insomnia is the habitual inability to sleep, or stay asleep. It can be caused by psychological, physical or medical conditions, poor sleeping habits, drug use and even biological factors. Insomnia can be a dangerous affliction leaving the victim in a constant state of fatigue exhaustion. Not only can lack of regular sleep affect your physical condition, it can wreak havoc on your mental state.
What can cause excessive sleeping?
Excessive sleeping or hypersomnia can be caused by a variety of conditions, including depression, which can be a very serious condition. Other conditions and factors include sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, reactions to medication, drug use, misuse of prescription medication, alcohol and sleep deprivation. Periodic ‘sleeping in’ is not a problem, but consistent excessive sleeping should be addressed.
What are the most common sleep disorders?
The most common sleep disorders are sleep apnea (problem falling and staying asleep), obstructive sleep apnea (intermittent airflow blockage during sleep), sleepwalking (getting up and walking during sleep), narcolepsy (chronic sleep disorder causing overwhelming daytime drowsiness), jet lag (sleep disorder affecting people who travel quickly across time zones), restless legs syndrome (characterized by a nearly irresistible urge to move the legs), and night terrors (causes feeling of fear or dread during sleep--usually an adolescent phenomenon).