Sleep problems


Definition of sleep

After a long and tiring day, there is nothing better than to curl up on an upholstered bed, and then fall to the sounds of peaceful sleep. It’s the normal process that our bodies need after working hard to unwind completely and replenish the strain on the body via recovering. The following day, after the restful night’s sleep, you feel rejuvenated and fresh.

“Sleep is a normal state of mind and body that is characterised by a decreased level of awareness, less sensorimotor activity, smaller muscles, and a decrease in almost all active muscles in rapid eye (REM) sleep, and less contact with the world. This is distinct from awakeness due to the inability to react to events that occur around us or to events faster, which is a condition referred to as a coma, or consciousness issue. This is because it displays specific brain patterning that is inactive.”

American Sleep Association

What happens when you sleep?

Researchers continue to research sleeping patterns and how they play an important role in the creation of specific kinds of memories. A few studies have shown that certain types of memories can be solid in a condition of fast eye (REM) sleep that is when you are dreaming and sleeping. Certain studies have shown that certain kinds of memories can be preserved when you are in deep sleep due to slow waves. Scientists are getting a better understanding of the effects of sleep and its effects on the brain. However, there are many questions to be addressed. Experts suggest that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of rest every night.

Optimal quantity of sleep

It is widely accepted that humans need eight hours of sleep. Certain individuals may rest longer, or less. But, in the clinical sense, the demands to rest are different in various categories of people.

  • Infants (ages between 3 and 0 months) have between 14 to 17 hours of rest per day.
  • The infants (ages between 4 and 11 months) require 12 to 15 hours of sleep each day.
  • The little ones (ages 1- 2 to two years) need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per day.1
  • Children of the preschool age (ages 3 to 5) require between 10 and 13 hours of playing each day.
  • Students in schools (ages 6-13) require between 9 and 11 hours of work each day.
  • Young adults (ages 14-17) require between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each day.
  • The majority of adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. But some individuals may require just 6 hours or as many as 10 hours to sleep every single day.2
  • Adults older than 65 (ages 65 and above) require between 7 and 8 hours of rest every throughout the day.
  • Women who are in the first 3 months after pregnancy generally require more sleep than they would during their normal.3
  • Premenstrual syndrome affects sleep in women, causing hypersomnia or hypo¬≠somnia.

The importance of sleep

Growth hormones in young children and adults happen during sleep. The majority of body cells exhibit increased production and decreased breakdown of proteins in deep sleep. Major metabolic activities and other hormonal activities are carried out during sleep which affects memory, heartbeat, brain functioning, and other major activities thus affecting overall well-being.

Stages of sleep

As we’ve mentioned before, sleep is a dynamic process. Two distinct states change in cycles and show different levels of brain activity. Each state is defined by a different kind of brain wave (electrical activity recorded using electrodes that are placed in the skull) activity. Sleep is comprised of non rapid eyes motion (NREM) as well as REM sleep (rapid eye movements)

  • Stage 1 (light sleep)
  • Stage II
  • Third Stage (deep sleep)

These stages of NREM sleeping along with restorative sleep4 repeat repeatedly throughout the night. Stages I, II III as well as IV, are followed by REM sleep. A complete cycle of sleep starting from stage I through the end of stage IV REM sleep, generally lasts approximately one and a half hours.

To be able to analyse the night’s sleep is split into three equal times that include sleep in the early 3rd of the evening, which contains the most NREM sleep; sleep in mid-night and finally, sleep in the final part of the night. The bulk consists of REM. The reason you wake up after a long night’s sleeping is generally due to REM sleep.

NREM Sleep

Stage I is a phase of restful sleep. It is regarded as a transitional stage between sleep and wakefulness. In this stage when muscles start to loosen. This occurs after the time you fall asleep, and also during short awakenings during sleep which typically accounts for about 5%- 10% of sleep duration. It is possible to be awakened in this phase.
Stage II takes place throughout the night and accounts for 40% up to 50 percent of the total amount of sleep. In stage II brain waves slow down, with occasional bursts of fast waves. Eye movements stop in this stage.
Stage III is when very slow brain waves known as delta waves start to begin to appear. They are interspersed with smaller, quicker waves. This stage accounts for around 20% of all sleep time. Stage III can be referred to as deep sleep. During this stage, all movement of the eyes and muscles stops. It is hard to get someone to awake in these two phases. If someone wakes up in deep sleep, he may not respond immediately and usually experiences a feeling of disorientation and groggy for a few minutes the following awakening. Some children experience bedwetting5 during this time. People mostly experience nightmares or sleepwalking6 during this period.

R Sleep or REM Sleep

REM sleep is 20% or more of the total amount of sleep. The REM phase follows NREM sleep and is experienced between four and five times during the normal 8 to 9-hour time frame. The initial REM time during the night could last shorter than 10 minutes and the final one could be longer than 60 minutes. In normal sleep, the episodes of REM occur approximately every 90 minutes.
When a person is highly tired, the length of each episode of REM sleep is usually very brief or may be absent. REM sleep is typically related to dreaming. In REM sleep, eyes move quickly, the breathing and heart rate is irregular and rapid, while it is when the blood pressure7 increases. The muscles in the body are virtually unresponsive. The brain is very engaged during REM sleep and the brain’s overall metabolism can increase by as much as 20 percent. The electrical activity that is recorded in the brain throughout REM sleep is comparable to that recorded in wakefulness.

Lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation is an indicator that you’re not getting enough rest. For most adults, the amount of sleep required for health is about seven to eight hours every night. For our nervous systems to perform at their best, sleep is essential. Lack of sleep makes people sleepy and ineffective on the following day. It also causes the impairment of physical and mental performance as well as less ability to complete maths-related calculations. If sleep deprivation persists with no relief, mood swings and hallucinations could develop.

What are the primary causes of sleep loss?

Sleep deprivation is mostly due to other diseases or other life-related issues. Sleep deprivation is getting more common. Many people try to alter their schedules to achieve the best they can, at the cost of cutting down on sleep. The issue of sleeping insufficiently is a major issue as we age. While older adults may require less rest than younger people, they tend to take longer rest and have shorter intervals than younger individuals. According to studies 50 percent of people who are older than 65 suffer from frequent sleep problems.

The indicators of sleep deficiency

The most frequently used indicators that you haven’t got enough rest are;

  • Feeling sleepy or tired during the day especially when you’re doing something that is of interest such as watching a movie or driving 
  • You are asleep within 5 mins after being laid down
  • Short periods of sleep during the daylight hours (microsleeps)
  • You require an alarm that can wake you up at the correct time each day
  • Are you feeling tired in the morning before the beginning or end of the workday? Or all day? (sleep inertia)
  • It’s not easy to get each day
  • you experience mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • The job of focusing can be challenging
  • It’s more comfortable to rest on days when you do not require you to get awake at a certain time

The negative effects of sleep deprivation

If you don’t get enough sleep before entering the driving simulator or doing hand-eye coordination is just as hazardous, or riskier than those who drink.

  • Memory problems
  • The feeling can be described as depression
  • Motivation is not there
  • Increased Irritability 
  • Slower response  
  • A weaker immune system, increased likelihood of contracting the disease. 
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Risk of suffering conditions like high blood pressure or coronary heart attacks, diabetes, or, overweight.
  • A lower sexual drive8
  • The eyes are wrinkled and dark circles around the eyes.
  • Higher risk of Obesity and weight gain due to altered metabolism
  • Trouble-solving, making the right decisions
  • Bad decision-making
  • Hallucinations9
  • Increased risk of binge eating disorder to curb sleepiness and excessive caffeine intake
  • Gastritis disorders

How can you tell whether you’re getting enough sleep?

To determine the amount of sleep you’re getting throughout the night, ask yourself:

  • Are you feeling good and content with your current routine of relaxation?
  • You think you’ve got time to relax before you start your next job?
  • Are you tired while you carry on with your day-to-day routine?
  • Do you depend on the power of caffeine10 to make it through your day?
  • Have you been following a routine schedule of sleep that’s normal even on the weekend?

What are sleep disorders? What are the different types of sleeping disorders?

Sleep disorders can affect your sleep, or cause it to be difficult to fall asleep. In turn, it can cause an early morning that is restless and can also result in additional symptoms. All people experience sleep issues between the hours of 8 and 10.  Around 70 million people within the United States suffer from sleep conditions. There are around 80 kinds of sleep disorders. The most common are;


The conditions of sleep disorders cause individuals to experience difficulties in sleeping, or even falling asleep. People suffering from insomnia display at least some of the symptoms such as;

  • It’s difficult to go to sleep.
  • It’s not uncommon to get up at midnight and struggle to fall asleep.
  • It’s too early to get up in the early morning hours.
  • Sleeping unrefreshed.

At the very minimum, one problem throughout the day like fatigue, insomnia, or accidents while driving, at work, because of sleepiness.
The length of sleepiness is determined by the length of time it lasts and how often it happens. A majority of people suffer from occasional sleepiness Women who have symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) issues, and post Menopause issues too might experience insomnia. The acute or adjustment type of insomnia may last one night or a few days. Chronic insomnia is experienced by those experiencing insomnia at least three times each week for one month.

Acute or short-term insomnia11 is usually due to the stress of your life (such as job losses or changes, the death of a loved one, or possible relocation) or an illness or external triggers like lighting, noise, and extreme temperatures.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea can be an extremely serious sleep disorder. It can be triggered when the respiration of the person is disturbed when they sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers who are not treated are not able to breathe consistently throughout the night.

Two kinds of sleep apneas, obstruction and central.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most frequent of both. It results from airway narrowing. The tissues running through the throat’s back are prone to collapse when you sleep. The symptoms of OSA can include tiredness sleeping, snoring, insomnia throughout the day, and even insomnia during sleep. Inspiring for air during sleep and difficulty staying focused.
  • If you’re suffering from a condition called central sleep apnea (CSA), the airway isn’t blocked. The brain can’t signal when you’re ready to breathe to your body. This is known as central apnea because it’s related to the functions of the central nerves. People suffering from CSA may experience the relief of exhaling, but they will typically experience periodic awakenings around midnight.
  • Leg pain that could cause the condition known as restlessness (RLS)

The condition, which is also called restless leg syndrome (RLS)is an insomnia-related condition that can trigger an intense, sometimes uncontrollable desire to move your legs. RLS typically occurs during the evening, which makes it difficult to sleep, and lots of people are forced to stay there in bed. People who suffer from RLS tend to move their legs to ease the discomfort.


Narcolepsy is an illness of the brain that impacts your ability to control your awakeness and also sleep. Patients with Narcolepsy are more likely to have excessive sleepiness in the night and intermittent bouts of restlessness throughout the day. Patients suffering from Narcolepsy may notice a sudden weakening of muscles as a result of the stress of laughter or other emotions. In most cases, the condition isn’t diagnosed and is therefore not addressed.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder

Circadian disturbances in the rhythm include a variety of sleep disorders that share the same features as an interruption in the sleep cycle. Circadian in Latin is “around and roughly” (circa) “every day” (Diem). The circadian cycle can be described as the term that can be used to describe the body’s 24 hours “internal clock.” The internal clock regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles.

Assisting you to “set an internal clock” throughout the day, you have an eye perspective of light, especially how bright it is, the length of time spent in the light, and the amount of time spent in light. It is sent by the eyes to a certain “control centre” located in your brain. Other factors affect the internal clock within your body, such as your hormone, Melatonin (a hormone that is made by your brain and plays a major part in the process of resting) along with physical activities and even your social behaviour. The old age of your body may influence your ability to identify the time of your wake/sleep cycle.

Circadian insomnia shows the following symptoms;

  • It’s hard to fall asleep.
  • You find it difficult to sleep and often wake up several times during the night.
  • You awake too early and you are unable to fall back asleep.

Sleep disorders and medications

The last option in the treatment of any illness. It is imperative to seek medical treatment in the event you require medical attention in the event of an urgent need. Many tablets are available from the market for sleep medications.

What happens when you’re a Hypersomniac?

Oversleeping, sometimes referred to as long-sleeping, occurs the time you are sleeping for longer than 9 hours over 24 hours.” Hypersomnia 2″ can be described as a condition that may cause the person to fall asleep too often and feel a lack of sleep during the daytime. Sleep disorders and narcolepsy usually result in hypersomnia. Doctors also talk about over-sleeping which can trigger anxiety in the morning. as well as a long time of sleep (EQS). If the root cause of the sleepiness isn’t known, the condition is termed hypersomnia idiopathic.

What is Melatonin? What is its purpose?

Melatonin hormone can be located within the pineal gland in the system of endocrine. It’s tiny, small-sized, and situated in the brain’s cortex. It functions by stimulating cells during the period when it’s the best time to bed or wake up. It releases the hormone when you’re in the dark. This is the reason it’s referred to in the form of the”hormone of the dark”.

The body normally produces more hormones, referred to as melatonin, during the night. The levels of hormones typically rise in the evening and then drop in the early morning as the sunset approaches.

In daylight, it’s thought that the pineal gland becomes less active. When the night is nearing or at sunset the pineal gland becomes more active, and it releases Melatonin. Melatonin is released into the blood. Melatonin levels in blood rise by about 12 hours and will increase throughout the night.

Functions of Melatonin

  1. It is a key factor to regulate sleep cycles.
  2. It plays a vital role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle.
  3. Melatonin hormone is a key component to the circadian rhythms and is also the photoperiod that links them.
  4. Additionally, it can have a profound impact on reproduction and other aspects that show the circadian rhythm.
  5. This hormone can be beneficial to children who suffer from developmental disabilities like ADHD or autism.
  6. It is believed that your body functions as its pacemaker, as it performs an important role in determining the times of the day as well as the year. It also helps in controlling the internal clock in your body.

The research suggests that melatonin performs a different role in the body that does not occur in sleep. By the guidelines for practising from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2017) and the American College of Physicians (2016), there isn’t enough evidence of the effectiveness or security of melatonin supplements for patients suffering from chronic insomnia to justify the need to make use of this. The American College of Physicians guidelines strongly recommends using CBT-I to treat sleep disorders (CBT-I).

Tips to help you sleep

Some are fortunate enough to experience sleepy and peaceful nights to go to bed. Some aren’t so lucky and are unable to get an adequate night’s rest. A sound night’s rest is essential for overall well-being and mental well-being.

Below are some excellent tips to help you rest better;

  • It is advised to rise each day and then go to sleep at the exact time every day.
  • Experts suggest that you leave at a minimum of three hours between exercise and the time for bed.
  • Be conscious of potential effects from caffeine12 or nicotine, alcohol, or both before you go to sleep.
  • Have a break before you go to bed. In a tub or read a book and drink tea without caffeine. Make sure to steer free of activities that can create tension.
  • Eat within 3 to 4 hours before going to bed.
  • You must ensure that you have a peaceful sleeping space. Create a bedroom that’s quiet and cool. It should also be cosy.
  • Utilise the sound device, or another device that makes use of noise to block out noises that are not needed.
  • Avoid watching TV or using your laptop or electronic device when you’re asleep. The bedroom must be designated to sleep only and for sexual activities.

How online counselling can help treat sleep disorders

This online counselling service is composed of professionals who are adept to deal with a broad variety of mental health issues and illnesses. It is possible to avail the assistance of online counsellors who are attentive to your concerns and offer solutions. The customer can access the services through various platforms accessible via the internet. Sessions for counselling are available via audio and chat emails and calls. Access to professionals’ assistance from the comfort of your own home has never been this effortless. 

In order to achieve maximum productivity, we tend to skip sleep. However busy we might be, a good night’s sleep, especially in the “Golden Hours” is a must for the overall wellbeing and higher levels of productivity.

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