Health Problems & Solutions

Few Sleep Disorders That Keep You Awake

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Learn some sleep barriers ,discover and find out strategies for getting a good night’s sleep that you deserve most.

The type of insomnia that causes you to wake through the night or in the early morning hours can be caused by both external and internal factors, explains Dr. Yan-Go, a neurologist and psychiatrist, as well as the medical director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.

While it’s normal to experience an occasional bad night of sleep, if your sleep problems become chronic, it’s time to do something about them.

Some 30 million Americans suffer from insomnia. Here, our expert panel provides you with four different solutions for getting some rest:

The sleep specialist. Try behavior changes and proper use of medication. At night, keep away from bright light. In the a.m., open the shades and go out for a walk, to tell your brain, “This is the start of the day.” You can try OTC sleep aids, but if you suffer for more than three weeks, see a doctor. Prescription drugs are safe when used judiciously, and better than the consequences of not sleeping.
— Neil B. Kavey, MD, Director, Sleep Disorders Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital

The alternative source
. Stress often plays a role in insomnia, so try to change your reaction to it. Don’t exercise or eat at the end of the day, and avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Enjoying a warm bath can help. Also, try taking 1,000 mg of calcium (it may calm your muscles and nerves, helping you sleep). Ask your doctor about melatonin supplements.
— Gerald Lemole, MD, Associate Medical Director, Christiana Care Center for Heart and Vascular Health, Wilmington, Delaware

The nutritionist. Go to bed and get up at the same time daily. Keep your room dark and quiet, and remove distractions (no working in bed). Have a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile, to relax your body. And remember, people who eat a healthy diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat protein feel better and sleep better.
— Lisa Derosimo, MD, Owner, The Weight and Wellness Center, Jupiter, Florida

The mind/body pro. Lying in bed, starting from your legs and moving up to your head, tense your muscles one at a time, then release. Your body will feel more relaxed, like a rubber band after it’s been stretched. And try soothing alternate-nostril breathing. Exhale through one nostril, using your fingers to close the opposite nostril. Breathe in and out; then switch back and forth.
— Sandra McLanahan, MD, Medical Director, Integral Health Center, Buckingham, Virginia

Bottom Line

Don’t underestimate the dangers of insomnia, including accidents from drowsiness. If you’re overweight, sleep apnea could be the cause; even a 5% weight loss can reduce many symptoms. A combination of all the advice here offers the best chance to sleep robustly, but if you’re still counting sheep, see a sleep disorders specialist for a diagnosis and advice on wise use of medications.


If you wake in the morning feeling sleepy, irritable, sad, forgetful, and headachy, there’s a good chance that you have sleep apnea, a sleep-related breathing disorder that affects 20 million of us — particularly when we’re pregnant. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex

•Do you snore loudly? About half of all people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It’s a sign that your airway is partially blocked.

•What’s your neck size?
The size of your neck can be a telltale sign. Women with OSA often have a neck size of more than 16 inches (17 inches for men).

•Are you waking often to take bathroom breaks
? “Most adults who don’t drink lots of water before bed and are not uncontrolled diabetics or on high doses of water pills should not have to wake repetitively to use the bathroom,” says Rochelle Goldberg, M.D., president of the American Sleep Apnea Association.

Block That Snore
There are a variety of treatments available for sleep apnea, but what works for you will depend on the severity of your problem and your commitment to treatment. Making the following lifestyle changes will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Keep that airway toned. Avoid alcohol, sedatives, sleeping pills, and any medication that relaxes the central nervous system, making it more difficult to keep your throat open while sleeping.

Dump pounds.
Work with your doctor on a weight-loss plan if you are overweight. Even a small drop in weight can improve your symptoms. Unfortunately, sleep apnea can make losing weight more difficult because it interferes with leptin and ghrelin, two brain chemicals that signal the body that it’s full.

Quit smoking.
Add sleep apnea to the long list of reasons why you should kick the habit. If you have sleep apnea, your body is hungry for oxygen. Unfortunately, smoking will reduce the amount of oxygen available.

Sleep on your side. You’re more likely to snore loudly when you sleep on your back. Try special pillows that make back sleeping impossible or at least uncomfortable. For example, you can wedge a pillow stuffed with tennis balls behind your back to make rolling over unpleasant.

See a sleep specialist. If your apnea is moderate to severe or you’ve made lifestyle changes and you still have symptoms of sleep apnea, then you need to see a sleep specialist who can observe and evaluate your sleep and help you find the best solution for you and your problem. A sleep doctor will check your mouth, nose, and throat and make a recording of what happens with your breathing while you sleep. This may require an overnight stay at a sleep center.

If you’re gaining weight and discovering a mess in the kitchen every morning, talk to your doctor about whether or not you might have Sleep-Related Eating Disorder.

Out of Control
Sometimes the only clue you have to SRED is the trail of bread crumbs you leave behind. You wake up on the groggy side, feeling stuffed and a little anorexic, walk to the kitchen, and there you find the remnants of a midnight snack — usually high-fat, high-calorie foods. There are probably no fruits or vegetables, but there may well be such oddities as buttered cigarettes, dog food, salt sandwiches, even eggshells, and — dangerously — kitchen cleaners.

The out-of-control eating occurs almost nightly, sometimes more than once a night. It begins after a period of sleep. The next morning the sleep eater may be able to recall vague images of what she did. Or not.

Scientists are just beginning to unravel the complicated brain circuitry that connects eating and sleeping. But they have been able to figure out that SRED is sometimes associated with sleep disorders such as restless legs, narcolepsy, or obstructive sleep apnea and can be triggered by medications such as zolpidem (Ambien), triazolam (Halcion), and lithium (Lithobid). It can also apparently be triggered by major relationship stress, by dieting, and by the cessation of cigarette smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs.

SRED, or sleep-related eating disorder, is a serious problem. It not only can make you gain serious amounts of weight and disrupt your sleep, it may also cause you to inadvertently eat toxic substances or foods to which you’re allergic. Here’s how to get a handle on it.

See your doctor. If you’re gaining weight and discovering a mess in the kitchen every morning, talk to your doctor about whether or not you might have SRED. Tell her about any medications you’re taking that she might not know about, including any recreational drugs or alcohol. Tell her about your eating habits, relationships, and any recent dieting. Even if she can’t find the precise cause of your eating, there are medications she can prescribe that will help you control the disorder.

Stay off diets. Dieting is a natural response to the weight gain you’re experiencing, but it may be counterproductive. In fact, it may be exacerbating your problem. Run any low-calorie eating plans by your doctor.

Rebuild relationships. If a close relationship with a parent or partner is stressing you out, see a therapist pronto. You could be paying the price of a nonfunctional relationship with your health.

Frisk your home. Get everything out of your home that would be harmful if you ate it. That means kitchen cleaners, bathroom cleaners, paint, lamp oil, whatever. Leave medication at the office or with a trusted friend — anywhere you can get it when you need it, but not at home while you’re sleep eating.


There are 15 million of us who fly across multiple time zones every year, with 500,000 of us in the air at any given moment. And for those of us who fly more than a couple of time zones from home—particularly those who fly eastward around the globe—jet lag can be a serious challenge. It takes away our edge, makes us groggy, and disrupts our sleep.

SOLUTIONS:-> You may click to see some ways to get rid of it



Unfortunately, the closer women get to menopause itself, the less they sleep. According to a 2007 National Sleep Foundation poll, by the time women actually stop menstruating, somewhere between the ages of 45 and 51, a full 61 percent will report that they can’t get to sleep or stay asleep several nights each and every week.
SOLUTIONS:->Click to see Menopause & Sleep Problems


Narcolepsy is thought to be caused by a genetic glitch that prevents the body from either absorbing or producing enough of the neurochemical hypocretin. In either case the brain’s sleep/wake switch behaves erratically, and those with the condition unexpectedly fall asleep multiple times throughout the day and, conversely, wake up unexpectedly throughout the night.
SOLUTIONS:->Click to see  Narcolepsy Symptoms and Strategies


Restless legs syndrome is a condition that ranges from a creepy-crawly sensation that runs up and down your legs to quivers, jerks, pins and needles, numbness, pain, or a burning sensation. It affects millions of individuals every day, and their chief complaint is difficulty falling asleep — and staying asleep.

SOLUTIONS:->Click to learn how to get rid of it

Source: The Reader’s Digest


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