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 Sleep  Holistic-online.com

Introduction To Sleep Disorders

Sound, restorative sleep is the foundation of a healthy life. A good night's sleep is undoubtedly one of the most precious gifts we can enjoy.

Sleep provides the rest our body needs. Rest is the basis of activity. If you sleep well at night, you function well in the daytime. If you don't sleep well, you don't function up to par. Your reactions are slower, your mind feels heavy and dull, you tend to get upset more easily, you don't work as efficiently, and, in general, it's a lot harder to get through the day. Thus, sleep is vital for healthy brain activity during the day. A wholesome sleep ensures that your moods, emotions, reflexes, and cognitive ability are at their best when you are awake.

Happiness and misery, obesity and leanness, strength and weakness, sexual vigor and impotence, consciousness and loss of sensory acuity, even life and death, depend on the quality of sleep.

Charaka, Ancient Ayurvedic Physician (India)

In spite of the fact that importance of good sleep had been known well before Christ's birth, sleep complaints are very common today. Several studies have clearly shown that sleep complaints are very common in the general population. One study conducted over a two-year period (1978 to 1980), included 4698 patients, each of whom underwent a polysomnographic (PSG) study. The proportions of diagnostic categories in those with sleep complaints, after those evaluated for impotency are excluded were:

51% with hypersomnia

31% with insomnia

15% with parasomnia

3% with sleep-wake schedule disorders.

A subsequent study on 3085 patients over a 1-year period (1981 to 1982) showed remarkable consistency with the results of the first study. The most frequent disease categories included in these surveys were sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia related to psychiatric or psychophysiologic disorders. A study by The Institute of Medicine in 1979 concluded that about one-third of all adults in USA had some sleep disturbances. Risk factors for sleep complaints identified were:

Old age

Female sex

Poor education and socioeconomic status

Recent stress

Alcohol and drug abuse

Despite this high prevalence of sleep disturbances, most of the patients who visit a primary care physician with sleep complaints will not be properly diagnosed. William C. Dement. MD estimated that family practitioners catch fewer than 1 or 2 percent of their patients with apnea. Even those with the most flagrant symptoms are rarely identified.

Missing sleep is more than inconvenient. Recurrent insomnia can throw the whole system out of balance and can lead to chronic fatigue. Researchers have made an association between insomnia and other diseases, such as depression and anxiety. It robs you from enjoying good relationships with friends and family members.

It's very important that we do whatever we need to do in order to sleep well. Addressing sleep disorders is a very important step you can take to have a healthy, wholesome life. Good sleep is foundation for increased stamina, resistance to disease, slower aging process, and elevated mood.

The most common form of sleep disorder is insomnia-the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Other common sleep complaints are: Snoring, Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, Restless leg syndrome, Sleepwalking, Night Terrors, Nightmares, Bedwetting, etc. However, these are only a very small fraction of the disorders listed in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders by American Sleep Disorders Association.

The consequences of inadequate sleep can be dangerous. Healthy men deprived of even a single night's sleep have a 30 percent drop in the activity of their immune system's tumor-fighting cells the next day. The electrical activity in the brain during dream sleep puts a stop to muscle activity. This allows the body to reconstruct damaged muscle tissue. Lack of sleep means that your body does not get enough time it needs to repair worn-out tissue. People who had inadequate sleep in a night was found to experience a surge of high blood pressure when they wake up in the morning. In some cases, that surge can lead to stroke or other heart problems.

Sleep problems add nearly $16 billion to the nation's total costs for health care each year. 
According to the U .S. Department of Transportation, each year two hundred thousand sleep-related accidents claim more than five thousand lives (some put the number at closer to twenty-three thousand deaths). Sleepy drivers also cause accidents that results in hundreds of thousands of injuries. In a survey of physicians, 42 percent of them admitted that they had caused the death of at least one person because they had been too sleepy to make wise medical decisions or perform surgery properly. 
How much sleep you need in a day? It depends on the individuals. Many people can get by on five or six hours a night. Others need nine or ten hours.

Sleep needs generally decrease with age. A one-year-old baby requires about fourteen hours of sleep a day. By age five, children need about twelve hours. Adults, on average, need about seven to eight hours. Women tend to require more sleep than men. Many elderly people sleep less than their younger counterparts. They tend to sleep less at night but doze more during the day than younger adults.

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