Ongoing lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in blood pressure and increased hypertension. Hypertension affects how hard your heart needs to pump blood through your body and over time can lead to heart attack and stroke.
The good news is with the right treatment sleep disorders are manageable.
The most common sleep disorders include:
Insomnia affects your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep and can impact work performance, decision making and relationships. Insomnia does not discriminate and in fact may be triggered by stress, chronic pain, pregnancy, depression and environmental factors, such as noise, light or extreme temperatures or irregular sleep patterns due to shift work.
Insomnia has been found to respond well to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-i) by addressing negative thoughts and behaviours associated with sleep, as well as assisting in the development of healthy habits around sleep and strategies to sleep better.
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder which interrupts a person’s breathing during sleep. Mostly, the person is unaware their breathing is disrupted and often wakes feeling tired. In some people, this breathing can stop hundreds of times during one night.
Sleep apnoea has been linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. It has also been found to be a contributing factor in car accidents, as people can fall asleep at the wheel due to poor sleep quality.
While sleep apnoea normally requires medical intervention, there are a number of lifestyle changes that have been found to be effective in complementing medical treatment. These may include weight management, quitting smoking and reduction in alcohol consumption.
Studies have shown CBT-i to be an effective treatment in managing and improving sleep apnoea symptoms with Flinders University recording a reduction in the severity of sleep apnoea in those who accessed CBT-i.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom Disease
Restless legs syndrome or Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurological sleep disorder where an urge to move your legs, impacts the ability to fall asleep. Some people also feel itchy or a burning sensation in their legs when lying down to sleep.
Both sleep quality and the amount of sleep obtained is impacted, which can lead to a person being easily irritated. It also impacts a person’s ability to concentrate and has been linked to depression and anxiety.
It has been found to run in families, with women twice as likely to be impacted than men. Onset usually occurs before a person reaches 45 years of age, with iron deficiency and low levels of dopamine known precursors. Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and sleep deprivation can also trigger episodes.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is also found in pregnancy and is most often linked to the last trimester, with symptoms disappearing following child birth.
Children with a diagnosis of ADHD may also experience RLS.
Lifestyle modifications and the addition of healthy coping strategies have been found to be helpful in managing this condition.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
This sleep disorder impacts falling asleep, struggling to stay asleep, waking during sleep and not being able to fall back asleep.
Common sleep disorders under this banner include:
Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
Shift Work Disorder
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are caused by continuous or occasional disruption of your internal and external environments such as our biological body clocks, work and school schedules or illness or social schedules. Symptoms include:
Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep)
Poor work or school performance
The following treatments for circadian rhythm sleep disorders have been found to be helpful:
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Evolving Minds Counselling use a number of evidence based therapies when treating children, adolescents and adults with sleep disorders.
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