No one wants to spend their days feeling tired and their nights awake. Sleep disorders can rob our bodies of necessary rest and affect our lives in negative ways. Luckily, there are treatment options available for the various sleep disorders that plague millions of people. Each disorder is different and as a result is treated differently. One behavior pattern however, is useful in treating nearly all sleep disorders.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Just like we must maintain some habits with our personal hygiene to keep our bodies clean, we need to follow some rules to make sure we sleep well.
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Having a schedule will help your body regulate itself.
- Set your bedroom up for sleep. Set the temperature so it is cool yet comfortable for you and dim the lights to darken your bedroom.
- Turn off televisions and radios, they make it harder to go to sleep and will wake you up during the night.
- DO NOT have any caffeine for at least four hours before bedtime. This will only help to keep you awake.
Once you understand that sleeping takes preparation, especially if you have a sleep disorder, then you can think about treatments that are available. There are multiple sleep disorders and treatments but it’s a good idea to know about some of the most prevalent.
Insomnia- A disorder where it is very difficult to fall asleep, insomnia is treated with medication and behavioral therapy.
· Drug Therapy- Your doctor will decide on medication but may also suggest other interventions.
- Stimulus Control- This treatment focuses on using your bed only for sleep. Patients learn not lie in bed to read or watch television; basically the body needs to think about being in bed and sleeping as being the same thing. Also, do not take naps during the day or stay in bed if you can’t sleep after 20 minutes. If you really can’t sleep, get up and go to a different room for a while and try again later.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation- This option aims to relax the body physically. Patients learn to divide their muscles into groups (say feet, legs, abdominals, arms and shoulders). One by one the patient goes through each group, tensing the muscles for 30 seconds then relaxing them. This will loosen up the whole body making the patient more comfortable and ready for bed.
Sleep Apnea- A disorder where you stop breathing periodically during the night, sleep apnea can cause snoring and other physical side effects.
- Drug Therapy- Sometimes doctors prescribe medications that open up your nasal passageways, making it easier to breath.
- Surgery- In some cases, physicians recommend surgery to widen the nasal passageways. Once this is done it is easier to breathe and reduces, if not eliminates, sleep apnea.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine - This device hooks up to your nose and makes sure that your body gets oxygen all night. Some even have a chin strap to keep your mouth shut during the night so your nose and mouth aren’t competing.
Narcolepsy- This disorder that causes people to fall asleep suddenly and leaves them tired throughout the day.
- Drug Therapy- Medication often includes a combination of stimulants and anti-depressants as prescribed by your doctor.
- Sleep Scheduling- A sleep schedule is often helpful. Sleep a full 8 hours at night but take 2 naps during the day. Take your naps at the same times every day. A quick nap before lunch and another before dinner is one suggested schedule.
A trained physician will assess your situation and prescribe treatment. In many cases, you will be prescribed one of the options mentioned here. If you have any questions visit us online or call Consult-A-Nurse® at 1-888-256-7692.