How many hours of sleep should a person have? There is no definite answer to this question. Sleep needs vary from one individual to the other. Some people may feel fresh even after 5-6 hours of sleep while the others may be drowsy even after 10-11 hours of sleeping. The key to understand ones sleep needs is that if you are feeling tired, drowsy during the day time and are unable to concentrate on your work, then probably you need more sleep.
A good night sleep boosts the immune system and helps the body in fighting diseases. It is essential for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. People who are constantly sleep deprived are more prone to high blood pressure and diabetes.
The following are some common reasons that may lead to sleep deprivation:
1. Working long hours.
2. Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine.
3. Light or noise in the sleep environment.
4. Stress and anxieties of work, relationships.
5. Excessive alcoholic drinks.
6. Illness, medications and drugs.
The above are just a few reasons that may trigger sleep problems. In addition to the above, an unhealthy diet and lack of proper sleep routine can also lead to disturbing sleep.
There are a number of sleep disorder treatments that are being constantly explored and researched that can aid good night sleep. These sleep disorder treatments vary from sleeping apparatus such as nasal caps (for reducing snoring) to sleep medications (herbal and chemical) and even surgery in certain cases. The following is a brief summarization of some common sleep disorder treatments.
1. Behavioral therapies: these are generally used in combination with medications to treat a number of sleep disorders such as insomnia. These therapies are to be inculcated in our daily routine and practiced everyday. These are relaxation techniques from physiotherapy, exercise postures, massages etc
2. Sleep Hygiene: These are habits that one can develop to be practiced before sleep. Having hot water bath before sleep, using firm mattress and clean sheets and ways to make the sleep environment more conducive to sleep. Listening to some soft music, some light reading or even taking a glass of warm milk before bed can help. Different habits work for different people.
3. Stimulus Control Therapy: In some cases of sleep disorder, people start disassociating with the bed and the sleeping environment. They find sofa or an armchair a more comfortable place for sound sleep. Thus, in other words, the bedroom and the associated things act as a negative stimulus for sleep. In such cases, people are encouraged to overcome such feelings by the use of cognitive thinking. Using bed only for sleeping and not as a place of watching TV or eating is emphasized.
4. Over-the-Counter-Medicines (OTC): There are a number of OTC drugs available for the treatment of insomnia and other sleep related disorders. These medications are also used as pain killers or for cough and cold. These contain sedatives or suppressants that slow down the activity of the central nervous system. These may be a good choice for instant relief but should not be continued longer. Persons taking OTC medicines should not forget to mention their physician about the same as they can contain certain ingredients that may have an adverse effect.
5. Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland of the brain. This helps in maintaining the body clock and the sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin production normally decreases with age. Its supplement is available and is known to be a good choice for insomnia. However, a study shows that a week’s use of melatonin has the same effect as continued for three months or so. Also, people who have a lower production of melatonin are known to have benefited with melatonin supplements. People with sufficient production of the hormone continue to have sleep problems despite use of melatonin.
6. Herbal medications: As the chemical combinations in the medicines are known to have adverse side effects on human beings, the trend of herbal medicines is growing. Valerian, kava kava, chamomile are certain herbs that are known to relax the body and reduce stress.
Sleep disorders can be very disturbing as it directly affects our performance whether at work or at school. Prolonged sleep problems can create havoc in one’s daily life. Hence they must not be ignored. Treatments of sleeping disorders can vary, depending on the specific sleep disorder, but these are certainly helpful.
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