A sleep disorder (somnipathy) is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns. It’s important to understand why sleep disorder can deteriorate your health and interfere with normal physical, mental and emotional functioning as it effects your nervous system in the production of the natural hormone melatonin which is necessary for sleep and wakefulness. Polysomnography testing can help to evaluate and detect the patterns of sleep disorder.
The basic of sleep
Why sleep is so important, you might already know that a normal night of sleep is about eight hours as recommended by most doctors. Why it is important, because during sleep our bodies repair the wear ant tear of muscle tissue, consolidate memories, and release hormones to regulate our growth and appetites and enhance the immune system, etc. The effect of disorder sleep can reduce the functions of the immune system in fighting against disease and sickness.
Most Common sleep disorders – The symptoms
1. Primary insomnia
Most of us might find hard to sleep and maintaining sleep sometime during our life time because of what ever reasons, but prolonged period of difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both without primary reason is considered the medical issue as chronic insomnia. It effects about 10% of general population.
Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth while sleeping, involuntarily.
3. Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS)
Delayed sleep phase syndrome affects about 10% of all chronic insomnia cases. It is defined as a sleep disorder of people who have a natural inclination to go to bed later other than normal sleep routine and difficult to wake up at the desired time as it also interferes with daily activities, such as school or work, that requires to wake up earlier than would otherwise be natural, leading to sleep deprivation and other issues.
4. Hypopnea syndrome
Hypopnea Syndrome is a condition in which an individual experiences overly shallow breathing or a abnormally slow rate of airflow during sleep, leading to disruption in breathing causes lower oxygen absorption that affect the blood oxygen level that disrupts the stages of sleep. Individual with hyponea syndrome even though get full night sleep but still feels tiredness at daytime.
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally, causing overwhelming daytime drowsiness, leading to extreme fatigue and possibly falls asleep at inappropriate times that interferes with daily routine activities. People with narcolepsy often find it hard to stay awake for long periods of time.
6. Night terror
Night terror is defined as a health condition with characteristic of fear, flailing and screaming while asleep. It is most happened to children with age two to six and affects about fifteen percent of all children. Night terror often is paired with sleepwalking.
Parasomnias are sleep disorders characterized by abnormal and unnatural movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, etc. including bedwetting, sleepwalking, nightmares.
8. Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)
Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a condition in which a person crampsor jerks the legs repetitively and uncontrollably during asleep causing excessive daytime sleepiness and falling to sleep during the day. PLMD can occur at any age but happens most common in middle-aged and older people.
9. Rapid eye movement behavior disorder
Rapid eye movement behavior disorder is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal behavior while sleeping with rapid eye movement. It is mostly associated with the elderly with neurodegenerative disorders.
10. Restless legs syndrome (RLS):
RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible to move your legs while you’re sitting or lying down due to comforting if stop.
11. Situational circadian rhythm sleep disorders
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders is characterized as health condition of disruptions in a person’s circadian rhythm, leading to excessive sleepiness and a lack of daytime alertness that interferes with normal work, school, and social needs.
13. Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more abnormal pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. Each pause in breathing called an apnea can last for a few seconds but sometime minutes. This types of abnormal breathing can occur 30 times or more in an hour.
14. Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis consists of a period of inability to perform voluntary movements either at sleep onset (called hypnogogic or predormital form) or upon awakening (called hypnopompic or postdormtal form). It can occur in healthy persons or may be associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, a sudden loss of muscle tone, etc.
Sleep walking or somnambulism is defined as an disorder of is a disorder of walking or doing any activity when sleeping.These activities can be as benign or extremely hazardous.
Nocturia or nycturiais a condition in which you need to get up during the night to go to washroom to urinate.
Somniphobia or hypnophobia is an abnormal fear of sleep. It may result from a feeling of control loss, anxiety around bedtime, panic attacks, repeating nightmares, etc.
Causes and Risk Factors
Narcolepsy is a type of neurological sleep disorder caused by a number of genetic abnormalities such as Chromosome 6 also known as the human leukocyte antigen system, inherited from parents affecting certain biologic functions in the brain, together with other environmental factors during the child early brain’s development.
2. Working the night shift
Working night shift may interfere with the brain natural production of the sleep hormone serotonin and normal functions of the inner biological clocks, leading to drowsiness. If this type of problem happened in a prolonged period of time may cause sleep disorder.
Certain types of medicines such as medication for high blood pressure, oral contraceptives, diet pills, anti depression, etc. and medication with with caffeine can increase the risk of sleep disorder.
The risk of sleep disorder increases with age as over half of adults over the age of 65 have some sort of sleep disorder.
Cigarette contains high amount of nicotine, a stimulant which can cause sleep disorder as researchers found that smokers enhances daytime sleepiness more than do nonsmokers, especially in younger age groups.
6. Illegal drugs
Illegal drugs interfere natural brain normal functions in productions of certain hormones and blocks certain chemicals’ function in transporting important neural signals, leading to sleep disorder.
Although it is considered as a sedative or calming drug, but it increases the number of times a person awakens in the later half of the night, leading to lead daytime fatigue and sleepiness causing alcohol-related sleep disorders.
Improve your diet
1. Tryptophan rich foods
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, the precursor to serotonin, in turn, converted to melatonin, via N-acetyltransferase and 5-hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase activities which are necessary neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting nerve impulses in the brain and induce relaxation and natural sleep, but high levels of tryptophan can increase the risk of drowsiness and cause harmful harmful effects of the age-related increase in brain serotonin. Intake food rich of tryptophan from the food below.
a. Chicken breast and Turkey
Eating foods with high in carbohydrate stimulates the pancreas in production and releasing insulin in the blood stream as it also reduce others amino acids which would otherwise complete with trytophan, leading to the production of serotonin, which in return enhances the production melatonin, the natural sleep induced hormone.
a. Bread and pasta
b. Whole gain cereal
d. Apple pie and
e. Ice cream
f. Oatmeal and raisin cookies
High amount of simple carbohydrate over prolonged period of time can increase the risk of type II diabetes due to over work that diminishes the function of pancreas in production of insulin. It If you are any symptom of sleep disorder, eating turkey combined with complex carbohydrate rich foods would be a better choice for meat and glucose. What is your choice?
All green plants including algae contain at least one type of chlorophyll, the green pigment of plants which allows plants to absorb sun light and convert them into usable energy. Beside it is best known as oxygen uptaker to the blood, it is also important to calm the nervous system, to induce sleep due to rich amount of magnesium.
a. All dark green plants( Roman lettuce is the best choice)
b. Algae (Fresh water organic growth is the best choice)
Magnesium is a natural sedative and stabilization of abnormal nerve excitation as it is used in conjunction with other medication to treat depressed elderly type 2 diabetics.. The mineral is important in manipulating of ATP, DNA, and RNA and many enzymes.
a. Leaf green vegetables (due to high amount of Chlorophyll)
c. Sesame seed
d. Blackstrap molasses
e. Brewer’s yeast
f. Whole grains
Improve your Lifestyle
1. Cut down intake of alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine
Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine are stimulant, some may have health benefits for the short time, but prolonged of period of using them can cause tension of nervous system, affecting the brain in transmitting information between nerve cells and cells in other parts of the body, causing many kinds of disorder, including sleep disorder.
2. Artificial ingredients
Artificial ingredients are man made chemical compounds which have been proven to be harmful to our health and sleep, if eating in measure amounts. Drinking water will keep the body hydrated, dilute toxins concentration and eliminate toxins. Always wash your fruit and vegetables in cold water before eating to prevent pesticides.
3. Toxins induced sleep disorder
Heavy metals and toxic chemicals in the blood can cause sleep disorder. Exposure to heavy metals and toxic chemicals over a prolonged periods of time also interrupt the normal function of brain in production of hormones and damage to the body organs, leading to diseases, including hormone imbalance and sleep disorder.
4. Improve sleep
There are some steps which you can do to improve healthy sleep and prevent to become a victim of sleep disorder. Researcher found that a good night’s sleep not only boosts the immune system in fighting against foreign invasion but also repairs all tear and wear of the body after daily activity in previous day and restore energy and keep you functioning during times when sleep is limited.
5. Eating healthy foods
Eating some kinds of healthy food above enhances the production of serotonin which induces sleep and protects us against the accumulation of toxins by promoting the immune system to cope with today out of our controllable environment hazard.
Exercise not only improves blood circulation and enhance body movement but also help to cleanse our body organs by eliminating toxins from the blood and lymph system.
7. Weight loss
Weight loss for overweight or obesity person may reduce the symptoms of disorder or cure your sleep disorder entirely. Researcher found that overweight and obese individuals slept less than those of normal weight and sleeping less than 8 hours a day, time of sleeplessness increases proportionally with weight gain of BMI index.
1. With nutritional supplements
There is no quick way in detoxification, fasting too fast may even harmful to your health. Nutritional supplements not only help to improve our health, restore our energy but also revitalize our metabolism, the chemical processes in our body by restoring and balancing the existing deficiencies of nutrition required by our organs to detox. Types of nutritional supplements used to detox include
a. Beta Carotene
b. Vitamin A
c. Vitamin C
d. Vitamin E
f. Folate acid
g. Vitamin B Complexes
2. With diet
Detox diet is a short-term diet, focused on cleansing environmental and dietary toxins accumulated in our body system, often focused on removing toxins from the body by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and urination, as it provides an optimal conditions for our bodies to focus on self-healing, retore and raise energy levels, enhance organs and system functions, stimulate optimal health, prevent premature aging, disease, etc. by minimizing intake of the amount of toxic chemicals, eating foods with high amount of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, high fiber and water.
3. Juice fasting
Juice fasting is a type of fasting and detox diet in which a person consumes only fruit and vegetable juices. Since juice contains little to no fiber, it is often used to cleanse your body toxins by expelling waste from the intestines and colon.The below are used generally in juice fasting
Celery, cucumber, bell pepper, etc.
b. Leaf Greens
Parsley, kale, beet greens, chard, spinach, etc.
c. Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
d. Root vegetables
Carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, etc.
Dark grapes, apples, lemon, etc.
f. Wheat grass
4. Organs detoxification
4.1. Liver detoxification
Liver is the first line of defense. It helps to regulate the level of cholesterol in the circulatory system by producing bile to the digestive system. It also help to balance our body hormones such as estrogen level in women as well as protecting our body from inflammation. Weakened liver will cause many types of diseases, such as cholesterol and triglyceride building up in our blood, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, etc. The natural remedies used for liver cleansing include
a. Milk thistle
Milk thistle, a flower plant of the daisy family have been traditionally claimed in treating chronic liver disease. It contains silymarin that helps to protect liver function and the liver in expelling toxins.
b. St. John wort
St. John wort is also known as tipton weed or klamath weed. It has been used traditionally in treating depression. It contains different flavonoids and 3-O-coumaroylquinic acid that has anti-inflammation and antioxidant effects by stimulating the immune system in fighting allergies and liver protection from toxins.
Fennel contains anethole, polymers and essential oil that helps the liver and pancreas in the metabolism of fats and sugars. It also helps to dissolve fat deposits of the body and restore damaged liver cells that cause jaundice, hepatitis and other liver disorders.
4.2. Lung detoxification
The best lung cleansing method is exercise. Moderate exercise such as walking, Tai chi only helps to improve the respiratory muscle functions, but also helps our lung to expel toxins accumulated through the air. Natural remedies used for lung detoxification include
a. Wild Cherry Bark
Wild cherry bark traditionally has been used to treat irritable and persistent, cough of bronchitis, and pertussis due to increased irritability of respiratory mucosa. Since it has antispasmodic qualities, it has been used with other herbs to treat asthma and enhance relaxation as well as removing toxins from the lung.
Root Platycodon has been used in Chinese medicine for over a century in treating abscesses, respiratory disorders, and intestinal disorders. Study shows that platycodon roots not only help to treat coughs due to purulent sputum and inflammation in the chest area but also removes toxins in the lung.
c. Mullein Mullein contains coumarin and rotenone. It has a long history of being used as a medicine and is an effective treatment for asthma and respiratory disorders. Mullein also helps in soothing the mucous membranes, reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy fluid production in the lungs.
4.3. Bowl detoxification
Bowel detoxification is particularly helpful for improving body conditions and controlling weight loss. It brushes the intestine clean and helps the liver to cleanse toxins rapidly, so you can get rid of all parasites and plaques in your stomach, intestines and colon. The choice of bowl cleansing include
a. Flax seed
Flax seed contains high amounts of omega 3 fatty acid, fiber and lignan that not only helps in controlling cholesterol in the blood stream and provides essential nutrition to our body, its fiber also helps to soften the stool and promote bowel movements for relief of constipation by removing all toxins accumulated in the colon.
Psyllium contains about 70% soluble fiber and 30% insoluble fiber. Besides having proven record in Chinese medicine in treating high levels of cholesterol, its fiber portion has been used to treat constipation by softening stools and easing bowel movements.
Bentonite is a natural clay that comes from volcanic ash. Taken internally, the adsorbent action of bentonite helps to eliminate and remove toxic material from the intestine.
d. Liquid clay Liquid clay moves through our body and attaches to any bacteria, virus as well as toxins in our intestine and removes them out of our body as wastes resulting in improved intestinal regularity, easing chronic constipation and easing indigestion.
4.4. Circulatory detoxification
Chelation therapy is the first choice of treatment, with the IV above your head, the substances in the IV help to cleanse the toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, calcium, etc in your arteries and brain. It is usually applied to people with pre existing heart conditions and between ages of 35-45. Natural remedies include
a. Raw sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage and has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria with distinct sour flavor. It contains high amounts of vitamin C, lactobacilli and other nutrients that helps to improve blood circulation and increase level of oxygen in the blood stream. It also is said to have done a super job in purifying your blood as well as anti aging effects.
b. Garlic Garlic is nature’s super food. Besides having been used in strengthening the immune system, fighting inflammation and infection caused by bacteria, virus, and chronic illness. It also is a blood thinner, blood purifier as well as increasing the level of oxygen in the blood and improving blood circulation.
c. Dang Qui
Dang qui has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousand of years in improving blood quality and purity, and help strengthen the immune system as it supports the body’s removal of toxins in the blood.
4.5. Skin detoxification
Skin is our body third line of defense. If the weaken liver and kidney can not completely eliminate all the toxins in our body, our body will try to eliminate them through the skin causing certain types of skin diseases such as free radicals.
Chromium is very important in rejuvenating the skin condition. It helps to balance the blood sugar, and lower stress and depression. Both are main factors that impact skin problems. It also helps to get rid of skin toxins caused by bacteria and virus infection.
Deficiency of zinc causes the thickening of skin. It is also a powerful antibiotic in treating acne and other forms of skin diseases caused by skin inflammation and toxins accumulation as a resulting of stimulating the release of vitamin A from the skin.
Lecithin is a fat-like substance, or phospholipid, produced by every healthy liver that is needed for a healthy skin. Lecithin helps the body in utilizing vitamins A, D, E in fighting against the bacteria and virus that causes skin problems. It also helps to eliminate the toxins on the skin or around the eyes caused by fatty deposits.
d. Strawberry leaf
Strawberries come in endless varieties but all leaves of all strawberries contain healing tannins. It has also been used to aid in the treatment of anemia, eczema, jaundice and other skin problems caused by weakening of the liver.
4.6. Kidney detoxification
Our kidneys process a special function to eliminate waste products and extra fluids from our blood. The waste and extra fluids flow through ureters as you urinate. If your kidneys are damaged or weakened, the wastes would build up in the blood causing blood poison and damaging other organs. Natural remedies used to cleanse kidney include
a. Dandelion leaf
Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion root has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine in treating liver disease by stimulating the removal of liver toxins. Dandelion leaf on the other hand are used as a diuretic to stimulate the excretion of urine in removing the toxin accumulated in the kidney.
Commonly called purple coneflower. It contains a wide variety of chemicals that not only helps to strengthen the immune system but also stimulates the removal of toxins that causes kidney inflammation and infection.
c. Corn silk
Corn silks are the silky fibers that are found under the leaves and on top of an ear of corn. It contains flavonoids, essential oil and minerals that helps effectively in treating acute and chronic inflammation of the urinary system caused by toxins accumulated in the kidney.
4.7. How to sharpen your brain
The best method to cleanse your brain is oxygen therapy. By providing the oxygen necessary for brain cells needs, it helps to rejuvenate and sharpen the brain cells. Study shows that oxygen therapy helps to restore some cells in patient with Alzheimer diseases. Natural remedies used to sharpen brain functions include
Ginkgo is perhaps the most widely currently used herbal treatment in memory enhancing. Extracts of Ginkgo leaves contain active and potent form of terpenoids such as bilobalides and ginkgolides that help to enhance the central nervous system functions. Ginkgo should only be taken under the guidance of a knowledgeable medical professional because of risk of bleeding .
Rosemary is a hardy bushy perennial shrub with aromatic, evergreen leaves and pale-blue flowers around the stem. It contains phenolic acids , bitter diterpenes, triterpenes, and flavonoids. it is used for headaches, nervous system disorder as well as preventing forming of free radical with its amazing antioxidant properties.
5. With Melatonin
Beside it is used as a supplement in promoting immune system and anti-aging, melatonin supplement also benefits for varies sleep-wake rhythm. Melatonin pills work quickly, usually people taking the pill fall into sleep in less than an hour. Unfortunately, prolonged period of using the supplement may reduce the functions of endocrine system in production its own melatonin in regulating the sleep cycle if you constantly supply the body with external sources.
Synthetic melatonin is different than natural one, it can cause some unknown long term effects.
Also researcher have not found out the optimal dose to make the supplement working in perfect objective, it is up to individual to experiment with different dose before finding the right dose for their needs.
Treatments for sleep disorders generally can be grouped into four categories:
1. Psychotherapeutic treatments
a. Behavior therapy
Behavior therapy is a psychotherapy pproach based on learning theory with purpose to treat sleep disorder by reinforceing desirable habits and eliminating undesired behaviors by replcaing them with more satisfying behavior.
b. Congnitive behavior therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy is another psychotherapy approach and mental health counseling with a purpose to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors that affect the the sleep patterns by teaching people specific cognitive and behavioral skills to help them control and preventing dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognition through a systematic method.
c. Interpersonal therapy
Interpersonal therapy is another form of psychotherapy approach has been used successfully with depressed patients causes of sleep disorder by improving the quality of patient’s interpersonal world, relationships, etc.
d. Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy is a psychotherapy approach based on the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology by emphasizing personal responsibility, focussing upon the individual’s experience in the present and working together (The therapist and patient) work together to help the patient understand the environmental and social contexts of a person’s life. The theory was developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s.
Polysomnography is one most common used sleep machine to record patients sleep behavior usually performed at night by monitoring the body functions including brain (EEG), eye movements (EOG), muscle activity or skeletal muscle activation (EMG) and heart rhythm (ECG) during sleep, etc. Once the symptoms of sleep disorder is identified, the specific rehabitation program is desired for the patient to obtain an optimal result.
Medication used depending to particular sleep problems of each individual
a. Anti-Parkinsonian drugs (dopamine agonists)
Used to treat restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder
b. Benzodiazepines, including in a class of drugs called hypnotics.
Used to treat parasomnias, bruxism (teeth grinding) and short-term insomnia.
c. Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics
Used to treat short-term insomnia.
Mainly used to reduce daytime drowsiness for shift workers or suffered from narcolepsy or sleep apnea.
Used to treat nocturnal eating syndrome, restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and insomnia related to bipolar disorder.
4. Other somatic treatments
a. Surgical treatments
Surgical treatment may sometime is necessary to treat breathing-related sleep disorders in some patients, such as obstruction or airway abnormality.
b. Phototherapy or light therapy
Phototherapy uses bright, specific wavelengths of light in a prescribed amount of time to change the timing of sleep and wakefulness. It is worked specially well for patient with Circadian rhythm sleep disorders such as chronic CRSD, and situational CRSD.
We will come back with the same subject viewed under the microscope of Traditional Chinese Medicine. At the mean time, enjoy reading.
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