Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders affect many people, affecting, in some cases, the quality of their lives and altering the normal physiological activities of their bodies. Many people don't know how to deal with these disorders, much less how to fix them. The lack of sleep can cause chronic fatigue, a decline of attention and concentration, and irritability. Furthermore, prolonged insomnia can have harmful effects on health.

Sleep phases

Sleep is divided into phases. We distinguish:

The NREM ( Non-Rapid Eye Movement)
The NREM phase is the stage that occurs right after you fall asleep, where you do not yet have dreams. At that time, i.a. the brain lowers blood pressure, releases growth hormone, muscle tension disappears, body temperature drops, breathing becomes less frequent.

REM ( Rapid Eye Movement) phase
The REM phase is the most essential phase from the point of view of sleep physiology. During the REM phase, our mind focuses on internal experiences, rests actively when dreams occur. Such activity helps in regeneration and is conducive to remembering the content we learned during the day.

Of course, it is good to sleep without any obstacles, but there are often various sleep disturbances. During the year, insomnia affects about 35% of people, and 7.1% of the population complain about excessive sleepiness.

Types of sleep disorders

There are many sleep disorders, and they are divided into:

  • Dyssomnia - these are the primary disturbances of night sleep and/or wakefulness during the day,
  • Parasomnias - undesirable phenomena that occur periodically during sleep and,
  • Secondary sleep disorders - appear in people with mental and somatic diseases.

The most famous sleep disorders are:

  • Insomnia,
  • Narcolepsy,
  • Sleepwalking (somnambulism),
  • Night terrors,
  • Nightmares
  • Primary snoring.

Underlying poor sleep quality can be factors that alter the normal sleep-wake rhythm. You can sometimes trace these factors back to certain systemic diseases, thyroid disorders, heart failure, or arterial hypertension.

Other causes that can disturb sleep are coffee, alcohol, nicotine, heavy foods, and sports activity in the 3-4 hours before bedtime.

How many hours of sleep are needed for a person to feel 'rested'?

For most people, sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night is sufficient. Then there are the so-called 'long dorms,' which take 10 hours. There are also 'short dorms,' for which 5 or 6 hours of sleep are enough to feel good and not complain of excessive daytime sleepiness or a feeling of fatigue.

What are the factors that influence sleep quality?

Insomnia is the most common complaint, but it is not the only one. There may be some subjective causes such as the disturbance of ' mood, depression, ' anxiety, or problems such as the syndrome of ' restless legs, 'discomfort caused by intense motor restlessness in the legs that prevents the patient from start night sleep.

What are the main consequences of sleep deprivation?

The main consequences of insomnia are:

  • Asthenia, i.e., significant fatigue;
  • Disorders of ' attention, concentration, and memory, especially in the workplace;
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness ;
  • Disorder of ' mood ;
  • Anxiety and easy irritability.

How are sleep disorders diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis of sleep disorders requires a polysomnographic examination. Polysomnography is a test that can detect sleep disorders. This examination allows for sleep apnea eruption, which can have severe effects on health and life. Polysomnography assesses sleep stages, breathing pattern (apnea), blood oxygen levels, heart function, and the body's physiological response to apnea.

Like any medical problem, diagnosis and treatment recommended and monitored by a specialist is key to overcoming the challenges of sleep disorders. However, certain types of treatment address different sleep disorders.

Are there any remedies for occasional sleep disturbances?

The best remedy is to identify the disorder's underlying cause and see if it can be removed. Before moving on to drug therapy, some tips for good sleep hygiene are reported:

  • Always go to bed and wake up at the same time, if possible, even on weekends;
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping, thus avoiding watching television or eating in bed;
  • Reduce nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol throughout the day;
  • Exercise regularly, but not in the 3-4 hours before bedtime;
  • Regularly expose yourself to sunlight because this favors the correct circadian rhythm.

What can be done if the problem becomes chronic?

If the above indications are not conclusive, the specialist doctor may recommend pharmacological therapies, starting with melatonin.

Subsequently, it is possible to resort to benzodiazepines or Hypno - inducing drugs that favor sleep onset.

Some people struggle to fall asleep but then sleep regularly; others, on the other hand, have many difficulties in maintaining a constant and prolonged sleep. Still, others tend to wake up very early in the morning, unable to go back to sleep: in the latter case, the problem may be linked to a depressive disorder and, instead of Hypno-inducing drugs, it is advisable to resort to antidepressants.

When to go to a specialist?

The help of a specialist becomes essential when the person understands that this disorder is prolonging over time, significantly affecting the quality of life. The ailments that the person experiences can be different - easy irritability, deconcentration at work, difficulty completing a project, problems in maintaining attention for a prolonged period: in the presence of these symptoms, it is good to consult a doctor.

What is the expected path for a patient who has sleep disorders?

If the above measures were not sufficient to solve the problem, it is advisable to contact a sleep medicine center.

Here, a doctor will perform the polysomnography examination by recording the electroencephalographic activity and other parameters. Such as muscle tone, respiratory activity, eye movements, heart rate, etc. - can offer both a qualitative and quantitative assessment of sleep.


Almost everyone is familiar with short-term sleep disorders. However, if they last longer than four weeks and occur three or more times a week, those affected should clarify the causes. To get help with long-lasting sleep disorders, an initial discussion with your family doctor can be helpful. Sometimes mental or organic illnesses are the cause of insomnia. Doctors and psychologists should provide professional treatment in such cases.

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