Have you ever experienced sleep anomalies like sleep walking, talking, nightmares or just sitting up in your sleep? We don’t quiet realize it but sporadic sleep sometimes becomes a habit that wrecks your sleep cycle. This leads up to us to being grumpy and hampers productivity in our daily activity.
Sometimes even the deepest sleepers may awake in the middle of the night. This strange but largely prevalent behavior is not a rarity- A study that was conducted by Sleep Medicine shows that out of 8937 people at least a third of them were awakened from a deep slumber and 40% of them experience difficulties in falling back to sleep. Intriguing right?
Let’s delve into some possible reasons that are being a monstrous snag to your slumber and how to rectify them:
1. Your cozy den is just not cozy enough!
The variant of temperature, noise and brightness are factors that determine the first stage of your sleep cycle. According to Rita Aouad, M.D., a sleep medicine physician at your arousal threshold- that is the ease with which you are aroused from your sleep- depends on which stage of the sleep cycle you are at. Basically, your sleep cycle circulates over 4 stages and the REM (Rapid Eye Movement.) The initial stage is when your body muscles start loosening up, begin to relax and you’re just entering the zone of unconsciousness.
It is at this stage when your sleep is most vulnerable to the smallest of disturbances in your surroundings. It could just be a ruffle of leaves, a door slam, your neighbors’ dog barking or any other factors like temperature variants (heat or cool) that could cause a flutter of eyelids and disrupt the rest of your sleep. Ideally your room must be sufficiently dim lit, cozy and cool enough with least disturbance in your atmosphere. Not all of these are possibly acquired in the real scenario however you could take certain measures like wearing an eye mask or plugging ear pods to block out external noises.
2. Panic at your Bedroom
Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, A New York based physician states that “Anxiety is the possible cause for restlessness and disturbed sleep at night’’. Dr Okeke goes on to explain that many people suffering with lack of a restful night sleep is due to nocturnal panic attacks. They may experience traumatic panic attacks that wakes them from deep slumber.
According to Mayo Clinic nervousness, tension and anxiety is the leading cause of un-rested sleep. If these panic episodes are recurrent it is highly advisable to seek medical assistance from your doctor who may help to appease the situation. Cognitive behavioral therapy, anti- anxiety medication or a combination of the best of both may help to yield favorable results. From his experience and observations Dr Okeke goes on to state that “Meditation and deep-breathing exercises can also sometimes alleviate symptoms in some people.”
3. Hydration at the cost of night slumber.
Staying hydrated is advantageous for plenty and many reasons, but many of us might have experienced its outcome to be a hindrance to a restful night’s sleep.
Nocturia (Noturnal+uria) going by the name, is a condition that causes people to wake up from their sleep at least once during the night to pee. Though this condition is not amongst the leading causes for disturbed sleep it’s widespread occurrence cannot be denied as a factor.
As per a survey that was conducted by International Neurology Journal out of a test run on 856 people, a substantial amount of 52% of people experience nocturia. The trigger for this condition which most obviously is the excessive intake of fluids before bed time, also include urinary tract infection and a hyperactive bladder. From the expertise in medicinal study Mayo Clinic also shows that people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are often prone to having the urge to relieve their bladders at night.
The superfluous deposition of sugars in the blood stream causes the body to expunge fluids which hence leads to heightened sensation of thirst. If taking precautionary measures to curb the intake of fluids in the night helps to avoid your bathroom calls then it’s time to consult an expert to rectify this.
4. Alcohol-o-mania leading up to Insomnia
Social drinking and drinking in moderation are always a welcome change, it sure lets you live a little and deal better with stress. However sometimes going unbridled can be the biggest irritant to a rested night’s sleep. Alcohol can be obtrusive to various stages of the sleep cycle, we would most often associate it with stage 1 that is the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep. Since it is external factors that govern this transition, your consumption of alcohol is completely a contributing factor that is well within your control.
Our bodies action on metabolizing alcohol is controlled by several factors like genetic, body type, diet etc. This is often the reason why some of us get ‘drunk’ quicker than others. Though this is a universal fact with liquor consumption, Alexea Gaffney Adams, M.D., a board-certified internist at Stony Brook Medicine, strongly suggests that people stop drinking at least three hours prior to hitting the sack so that your body gets enough buffer time to take in all that alcohol.
Caution is always better than the cure- So drinking in moderation and keeping yourself sufficiently hydrated can dissociate a lot of the complications resulting from excessive alcohol consumption.
A notable doctor in the related field, Dr. Gaffney Adams has inferred that sinking in an overflow of drinks can heighten the urge to pee at night hence disrupting a trail of seamless sleep.
5. Sleep Apnea has stolen your breath away!
Sleep apnea is a formidable sleep disorder where in a person’s sleep is intruded by breathlessness. People with untreated sleep apnea cease to breath recurrently during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen. There are two types of conditions with sleep apnea- first one is obtrusive sleep apnea where the throat muscles get increasingly relaxed narrowing the air passage causing oxygen levels to drop. In the second case- central sleep apnea, your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles controlling your breathing, again causing potentially harmful drop in oxygen. The worst possible scenario is that of complex sleep apnea that combines the effects of both types of apnea.
According to Mayo Clinic, the treatment involves a continuous monitoring by your doctor. He/she might retain the patient overnight to do a thorough observation of the patient’s breathing patterns during sleep. The treatment is administered in the form of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is a mask worn during sleep to help keep your air pipe open. Doctors may suggest other alternative and more effective treatments as well.
6. A Hyper Active Thyroid Gland.
The butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck is the hormonal control chamber for the entire body. It secretes two hormones that are released into the blood: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are the fuel to all functionality of our body cells.
Hyperthyroidism- a condition that causes excessive production of the thyroxine has a kind of compounding effect on the body, the symptoms include troubled sleep, increased heart rate, night sweats, anxiety, paranoia and more. Just one flutter of the butterfly gland in a misdirected way having its far-reaching negative impact on our system!
An Endocrinologists, the bodies mechanic doctor who specializes in treatment of thyroxine levels, can evaluate the hormonal levels in your blood to decide further course of treatment. For hyperactivity of the thyroid gland your endocrinologist would prescribe measures to alleviate the problem by administering appropriate medicine and beta blockers to reduce the risk of wild heart rate.
7. Gluttony leading to unhinged sleep
Dr. Aouad states that “Eating a heavy meal closer to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep,” A dreadful outcome of overeating at night is acid reflex, in which the acids from the undigested food moves upwards from your stomach to the throat causing painful heart burns. Another risk with not having enough buffer time between your meal time and nap time is that of uneasiness caused by gases that lead up to unbearable abdominal pain. Those hunger pangs could be the most demanding of the reasons to knock you off your deep sleep. The risk of being empty stomach for a long spell becomes magnified in a diabetic patient. Hypoglycemia is a condition where a patient’s blood glucose levels swing to an all-time low hence disrupting a rested sleep. This compounded with other factors like dizziness, shaking, sweating makes the condition worse as per Cleverland Clinic. If you are diabetic with repeated incidents of waking up from your sleep with low sugar spells it’s best to visit a doctor and chart out a working plan to keep this condition at bay.
According to Dr Aoud sleeping on an empty stomach nullifies prospects of continued sleep leading up to insomnia.
The thing with food is that you need to be cautious of how much and when. Not too much not too less and just in time would be just right!
8. Restlessness in your legs equating to restless sleep
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS) has deduced that the Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS, is a condition that is characterized by several agitative signs like itching, crawling, aching, pulling to name a few out of the many strange sensations experienced by the victim. There is an overpowering urge to needlessly shake your legs particularly during the evenings and night at the crucial hours of sleep when the body is presumed to be in inertia.
Many specialists in the field have theorized that RLS is a genetic disorder though it cannot be assertively said what the real cause is. Inconsistencies with the release of Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that aids in muscle coordination is also observed to be a factor contributing to RLS, while some doctors claim that it is iron deficiency.
The treatment just like the causes are very evasive and it is often studied and administered by doctors by aid of questioning and lab examinations. Your doctor may prescribe some medicine to enhance your dopamine levels and sometimes drugs equivalent to muscle relaxers are also efficacious. Home remedies like hot water baths, however will help patients in the long run.
The possible reasons to a problem as silly as waking up from sleep can range from two ends of the spectrum, it can either be an environmental disturbance like noises or a major grievance like diabetes, RLS etc. Sometimes maybe it’s just a minute lifestyle change like dimming the lights, wearing earplugs, switching on the fan or television that can transcend the difference between a discontinuous sleep and a rested one. However, if the pattern of disturbed sleep is recurrent and identifies with out of the reasons listed above its best to consult a specialist.
So, think about your well-being, take this though to bed and we’ll wish you not just a good night but one of deep sleep as well!