Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jet Lag Syndrome

This is the second most popular sleep disorder and usually affects international flights and if it's domestic if they're going between time zones. This is what you call knocking your body clock out of synch because when you're traveling across different time zones especially at the international level because that can throw you off an entire day if you're coming from the west going east from New York to London or Los Angeles to Tokyo or Sydney which can throw you off since you cross the international date line which is one day ahead and behind.

It seems as if women are more affected than men and according to medical reports its because the natural hormone estrogen and it's triggered when the body when accustomed to normal daytime and nighttime rhythms therefore you're upsetting the body's natural state of corresponding with a specific time of day and it can even interrupt eating patterns as well. It can take up to several days to even a full week to regain some normalcy on the time and place once you've had time to sleep yourself into adjustment mode.

The symptoms of jet lag vary by the individual person and symptoms can include or be a combination of dehydration which can trigger minor disorientation, and loss of appetite, headaches and sinus irritations, fatigue, grogginess, nausea and/or vomiting from an upset stomach, irritability, and mild depression. Jet lag is not linked to the length of a flight, but the transmerdian distance traveled. For example if you flew from New York and Los Angeles which is approximately 5 hours you will feel some jet lag crossing the Central and Mountain time zones. Jet lag can be extremely difficult in places like Alaska and Russia because of the fact that Alaska only sees a short amount of daylight and Russia has 11 different time zones and can really throw someone off if they were flying from Copenhagen to Tokyo.

Usually people that are prone to this are often given sedatives by their doctors to help them sleep through the flight and to wake up without the effects of jet lag when they land in their destination.

Ways to recover quicker from jet lag is proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep because you'll be surprised to know that people who don't sleep or get enough rest and relaxation will deal with it later when they land and the disorientation sets in. Sunlight according to doctors say can help reset your body's clock back in synch.

It's difficult to pinpoint the severity of jet lag because it affects people differently and usually people who travel on international flights are less likely to deal with jet lag because they're used to the constant change. And have manage to adapt to those changes since some travel monthly for business and usually it's business travelers who deal with jet lag more than those who go for vacations.

Business travelers fly at odd times which can throw someone off because they're flying out super early or catching the red eye somewhere to arrive the next day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Children With The Sleep Disorder Of Sleepwalking

The sleep disorder of sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, affects approximately 14% of school-age children between five and twelve years old at least once. Approximately one quarter of the children with this sleep disorder have more frequent episodes. Sleepwalking is more common in boys then it is in girls. Most children that sleepwalk outgrow the symptoms of this sleep disorder by adolescence as their nervous systems develop.

In children this sleep disorder is thought to be the result of the immaturity of the brain's sleep / wake cycle. Normally the entire brain wakes up at the same time. However, in the case of a sleepwalker, the entire brain does not wake up together. The portion that is responsible for mobility wakes up while the portion responsible for cognition and awareness stays asleep. The child is actually in a deep state of sleep.

With this sleep disorder the brain remains partially asleep but the body is able to move. It is common for the sleepwalker to get out of bed and walk around. Sometimes they get dressed or go outside. Even though the sleepwalker's eyes are open and they see what they are doing, their expression remains blank. They do not respond to conversation or their name being called. A sleepwalker's movements usually appear clumsy. It is not uncommon for them to trip over furniture or knock over things as they move around. A sleepwalking episode usually happens one to two hours after the child goes to sleep. Most of these episodes last for fifteen minutes or less, but some can last for an hour or more.

This sleep disorder in children is usually outgrown and treatment is not generally necessary. In most cases, a parent gently guiding the child back to bed is all that is needed. There is not any need to wake the child.

However, there is about 1% of the population that sleepwalk as adults. Adults that have this sleep disorder did not necessarily have it as a child. In adults a sleepwalking episode can be triggered by stress, anxiety, sleep fragmentation, sleep deprivation, or certain medical conditions such as epilepsy.

Treatment for adults with this sleep disorder is often dependent upon the amount of danger they are in during an episode. For example, a sleepwalker who opens doors and goes outside onto a busy city street is in danger. A sleepwalker that gets up and goes into the living room and sits down on a chair most likely is not in danger. Treatments can include behavioral therapies, self hypnosis, or prescription medication.

A sleepwalker, whether adult or child, needs to have a safe area so that they do not get hurt during an episode. Precautions can be taken to eliminate some dangers. Parents should make sure the child's bedroom does not have any sharp or breakable objects. Doors should be locked at night to keep the sleepwalker from going outside. Sometimes it is necessary to put bells on doors to alert the sleeping parent that their child is sleepwalking. Large glass windows and doors should be covered with heavy drapery to lessen the chance of having the sleepwalker walk through it while it is closed.

A child with the sleep disorder of somnambulism needs to be protected and kept safe during an episode. It is the environment they are in that is the danger more then the sleep disorder itself.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Alternative Approach For Overcoming A Sleep Disorder

Having a sleep disorder can be very disruptive to everyday life. Sleep deprived people are usually excessively tired and sleepy. They tend to become irritable and very emotional. At times they become a danger, not only to themselves, but also to those around them.

Some people use alternative, natural ways to lessen the effects of their sleep disorder. Many people focus on diet and nutrition, while others use herbs and supplements. Still others believe in the positive effect of exercise, relaxation and sensory techniques, meditation or behavioral and cognitive strategies. Often people use a combination of these approaches to help alleviate the symptoms of their sleep disorder.

A healthy diet is essential for optimal energy and a restful sleep. Avoiding certain foods is as important as including others in your daily diet. Eating a wide variety of foods and drinking plenty of water will keep your body well- balanced and provide a more stable energy level. Avoiding food that is grown, treated or processed with chemicals, and limiting the amount of sugar and caffeine will also help your overall physical condition. Many foods promote a restful sleep and are helpful in relieving some of the symptoms of certain sleep disorders. Eating the proper snack before bedtime can increase natural serotonin levels. Serotonin acts as a natural sedative and is made in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. Foods that a re rich in tryptophan include chicken, turkey, cheese, cottage cheese, fish, milk, nuts, avocados and bananas.

Many people use herbs and natural supplements as an alternative approach to treating their sleep disorder. There are many nutritional supplements and herbal products on the market. It is important to know how a specific product acts on the body as well as on the specific sleep disorder.. For example many people with restless leg syndrome have an iron or folic acid deficiency. Taking an iron supplement may alleviate some of the symptoms of RLS. Many herbs are well known for promoting a natural sleep. A clamming tea of chamomile or lemon balm can be very relaxing to many people that suffer from a sleep disorder.

Exercise and relaxation techniques, whether used alone or together, can reduce stress and muscle tension. Many people that use these techniques to lessen the symptoms of a sleep disorder do these before going to bed. They not only ease physical tension but they calm the mind and prepare the body to sleep. These techniques include mindful exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises and yoga.

Meditation and visualization are also used by some sufferers of sleep disorders to calm the body before sleep. Two common forms of mediation are meditation on the breath and mantra meditation. Both of these types can have a positive effect on relieving stress and calming the body. Many people focus their energy on a healing visualization as a method of alternative therapy for their sleep disorder.

Sensory techniques that people use to lessen the symptoms of their sleep disorder are hydrotherapy, and aroma therapy. The two main techniques included in hydrotherapy, which means water therapy, are relaxing in an Epsom salt bath and a lymph stimulating footbath. Aroma therapy includes the use of therapeutic essential oils in baths, massage oils, room sprays, and simple inhalants.

Alternative behavioral and cognitive strategies used to combat the symptoms of a sleep disorder include improving a person's sleep hygiene, stimulus control therapy and journal writing.

Alternative practices and techniques can help many types of sleep disorders. Often they are used in conjunction with traditional medication and practices.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Many people that work during the night suffer from Shift Work Sleep Disorder, also known as SWSD. This disorder affects about one quarter of the approximately 20 million people who do shift work. People affected by shift work sleep disorder are employed in many types of jobs. These include large numbers of workers in industries such as transportation, manufacturing, mining, power, health care, and emergency services including police and firefighters and EMTs. Many of these industries operate around the clock and many various shift schedules exist.

Working a shift job forces your body to function outside if it natural circadian rhythm. Their circadian rhythms never become fully adjusted to their hours. No matter how long a person works at night, when they are greeted by the morning sunlight a signal is sent to their brain saying it is time to wake up. A person suffering from this sleep disorder lives in a state of constant circadian disruption.

There are several coping strategies for people with shift work sleep disorder. The most important thing to remember when coping with the challenges of shift work is recognizing the importance of sleep and making it a priority.

Sleeping during the daytime can be very difficult for some people. Besides going against the body's natural circadian rhythm, there are also the sunlight and the everyday life of the rest of the world, most of which is awake. Many people with this sleep disorder move their bedroom to an isolated place in the house and try to make the room as quiet and dark as possible.

It is best to try to avoid as much of the morning sunlight as possible if you plan to go to sleep right after your night shift. Wear sunglasses on the way home and try not to stop for gas or groceries. The more sunlight you are exposed to, the more likely you are going to have a difficult time falling asleep.

Another coping technique is to develop a sleep strategy. It is very important to set a specific time to sleep. Many people that suffer from shift work sleep disorder find it is best to follow the same sleep routine even on the days they are off from work. It is essential that family and friends know not to bother you during your sleep time unless it is an emergency. Generally, shift workers are chronically sleep deprived. Scheduling naps at specific times can be a great help in dealing with the sleep disorder that accompanies shift work.

People with this sleep disorder should limit the amount of caffeine during the later part of their shift. Some people establish a caffeine cutoff time, after that they drink juice or water.

The use of sleeping pills for shift workers can develop into a dependency on them. Taking sleeping pills on a daily basis can lead to other health problems.

Not everyone is able to tolerate working during the night. The constant battle with this sleep disorder may cause some people to find a different job.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fatal Familial Insomnia

This is probably by far one of the rarest forms of sleeping disorders around. This is an inherited disorder that has only been found in 28 families in the world that have the dominant gene for it. The offspring of a parent(s) of developing the disorder is about 50% and there is no cure for this.

The age of onset is around the ages between 30 and 60 and the disorder's time frame runs between 7 to 18 months. This disease has 4 stages that it goes through and 1st stage of the disease starts off with the sufferer dealing with increased insomnia leading to severe panic attacks, and various kinds of phobias, this stage lasts about 4 months, 2nd stage sufferer deals with hallucinations and panic attacks become more obvious and lasts about 5 months, 3rd stage Complete and total inability to sleep. And follows with drastic weight loss and lasts about 3 months, 4th stage Dementia sets in and progressively becoming irresponsive and mute over a course of 6 months and this is the final progression of the disease.

This sounds a lot like Alzheimer's because if you notice the time frame it's a lot less shorter than the actual time span of someone who deals with Alzheimer's because the sufferer is dealing with it for several years instead of a year where the disease progressively degenerates the mental capacity to such a degree that the sufferer has a hard time with memory.

As far as treatment is concerned sleeping pills don't have any effect for people suffering from Fatal Familial Insomnia and not even non-medicinal therapy doesn't work either. Medical science has no idea why it's a fatal disease and how they can create effective treatment options to combat this problem. And more effective genetic testing for diseases that are inherited to find out what can be done medicinally and therapeutically to deal with this sleeping disorder.

It's a matter of how much attention the medical world takes note of this and pushes the funding to finding a cure and effective genetic testing of families and tracking diseases through the generations to be able to have some kind of record of the disease passing down through generations or skipping generations which is what some diseases have done in some families for those who have a disposition for certain things.

This doesn't get nearly as much attention as all the other sleeping disorders because of it being rare, and only turning up in so many people and births making it not rare enough for it to get the recognition as regular insomnia and to qualify for the treatments. That are currently out there to help those 60 million people who are dealing with some kind of sleeping disorder(s).

With the way medical science is going it will be a matter of time before medical science catches up and helps the many people who are looking for a cure of being deprived of a restful night's sleep. The moment a cure is found is one more person who will be helped to have a good night's rest.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


When you think of insomnia you're thinking of someone who can't sleep for a reasonable amount of time. A typical complaint from an insomniac is not being able to close their eyes or rest their mind for over a few minutes at a time. There are many reasons for this ranging from anxiety to bipolar disorder. Yet sometimes there's no real causes and can just happen for any given reason, but too much activity and physical pain can be causes for someone not to be sleeping at night.

Finding the underlying causes is key to finding a cure for this problem. It's also been found that not eating has contributed to someone not sleeping. There are 3 types of insomnia and they are transient insomnia which lasts anywhere from a single night to several weeks, acute insomnia is the inability to sleep well for a single period of 3 weeks to up to 6 months, and chronic is deemed the most serious where it's happening nightly for at least a month or longer.

There are options to treat insomnia the most common is medicinal since there's commercials on for Ambien, Ambien CR (Controlled Release) , Rozerem, and Lunesta prescribed for people dealing with sleeping disorders.

It seems in this day and age that sleeping disorders are becoming more common and prevalent because with the new line of sleeping pills coming out explains clearly shows that there is an increase of sleeping disorders of many variations. Some of the medications out there that's used in treatment of insomnia have proven that it was effective in helping insomniacs wake and sleep at the right time, but it lacks the data information to prove the theory as truth and factual.

Lunesta and Ambien are noted to having a high psychological dependence than the older brands of sleeping pills and now cognitive behavior therapy is one of the many options widely used in someone dealing with insomnia and using the medication Rozerem because of the like hood of getting hooked to the drug is reduced and is widely prescribed for people who have a history of overusing their medications.

Some insomniacs have used herbs like chamomile when drunk in tea and lavender for aromatherapy as a means to relax. Insomnia can also result in a deficiency of magnesium and getting the right amount has proven to improve the quality of a person's sleeping patterns.

Pomegranates are also good for insomniacs since there's a nutrient in the fruit key for everything from immunity to cardiovascular health and are good for improving sleep. Insomniacs are also advised to eliminate a lot of the stress and tension in their lives because this is a triggering problem in the everyday life on an insomniac.

Chinese medicine has also been introduced into helping those with sleeping disorders and other issues surrounding that. According to statistics taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services it's estimated that 60 million Americans suffer from some type of insomnia and is noted to increase with age. 40% of women and 30% of men suffer from this.

Women tend to deal with this more because of increased level of responsibilities in their lives since more and more households in the United States are becoming single run homes and 75% of women are the heads of them which makes them the sole bread winners and taking on the role of mother and father which makes their lives increasingly difficult when they don't have a partner or spouse to give them the support they need.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Illnesses That Can Cause A Sleep Disorder

Many times a sleep disorder can be caused from an illness or from the medications used to treat an illness. Some of the common health conditions that can cause a sleeping problem are cardiovascular disease, endocrine disorders, neurological disorders, respiratory disease, mental illness, gastroesophageal reflux disease, kidney disease, and arthritis.

Cardiovascular disease includes congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. These are the two most common heart problems that affect sleep and can cause a sleep disorder. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood fo the body's needs. Blood backs up in the veins of the heart which lead to the kidneys and edema eventually damages the lungs and other organs. People suffering from congestive heart failure have a very high risk of developing the sleep disorder of obstructive sleep apnea. Coronary heart disease is the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, called atherosclerosis. This condition also can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep disorders can occur from endocrine disorders such as diabetes and thyroid disease. Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body processes and uses carbohydrates, fats and proteins. People that have uncontrolled diabetes often develop the sleep disorder of restless leg syndrome. Thyroid hormones regulate the body's energy levels. Hyperthyroidism can make it difficult to fall asleep, and cause night sweats the person to wake.

Neurological disorders include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and strokes. Parkinson's disease is a central nervous system disorder. This disease causes problems with body motion, including tremors, unstable posture, slowed body movements, muscle stiffness, and difficulty walking. Sleep disorders that occur with this disease include REM sleep behavior disorder and sleep onset insomnia. Alzheimer's disease impairs the brain's intellectual functions and is the most common cause of dementia. This disease causes sleep fragmentation. Epilepsy causes recurrent, sudden, brief changes in the normal electrical activity of the brain. People with this condition are twice as likely to suffer from the sleep disorder insomnia. People that suffer a stroke usually also have obstructive sleep apnea.

People that have respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, usually also have a sleep disorder. Asthma is a chronic lung condition that makes breathing difficult when air passages become inflamed and narrow. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, refers to a group of disorders that damage the lungs and make breathing difficult. Many people with these conditions suffer from insomnia and sleep fragmentation.

Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder can also lead to a sleep disorder. People with these mental health disorders often suffer from sleep fragmentation and insomnia.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD, causes the stomach's juices to flow backwards into the esophagus. This causes the sleep disorder of sleep fragmentation.

Kidney disease causes the kidneys to lose their ability to filter the proper amount of waste products from the blood and regulate the body's balance of salt and water. This can cause the sleep disorders of restless leg syndrome and insomnia to develop.

People with arthritis often find it difficult to fall asleep because of the pain. This often results in insomnia.

If an illness causes a sleep disorder to develop, the sleep disorder is secondary to the illness. Successful treatment of the primary underlying cause will usually diminish the effects of the sleep disorder.