How To Avoid Sleep Disorders
5 min

How To Avoid Sleep Disorders

5 min

Good sleep is crucial to a good life. Everyone has different needs when it comes to sleep, and overcoming a sleep disorder can be a long and challenging journey. That said, there are plenty of actions you can take to experience restful, restorative sleep. Find out more here.

Getting good sleep is glorious, and not getting good sleep can be really distressing. In this article, we look into the causes and effects of sleep disorders. These conditions can seriously affect a person’s quality of life, and should be dealt with in order to get one's life back on track. In what follows, we explore the nature of various sleep disorders, as well as some ways to prevent or mitigate their occurrence.

What is a sleep disorder?

What is a sleep disorder?

Sleep disorders come in many different forms, and each can be treated differently. While they all have their own symptoms, all sleep disorders result in the person in question being sleep deprived. This sleep deprivation can range from mild to severe. All sleep deprivation has a negative effect on quality of life, even if it's fairly mild. Over a long period of time, sleep deprivation can have severe effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Insomnia is a condition in which someone struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep—or both—to the degree that they regularly get inadequate amounts of sleep.

The two most common forms of insomnia are when someone is unable to fall asleep in the first place, or when someone wakes up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes, these forms can be concomitant.

Other sleep disorders include:

  • Sleep apnoea
  • Nightmare disorder
  • Sleep anxiety (usually a secondary condition caused by another)

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How much sleep is needed?

This is a point of contention, and the numbers thrown around are always changing. It’s not unusual to see a clickbait article implying that we only need a few hours of sleep a night. The most reasonable assumption is that everyone needs different amounts of sleep, with different timescales, and that these can vary throughout the year and at different times in our lives.

Generally, around 8 hours of sleep per night is adequate for most adults. However, many people fall outside of this range. Don’t listen to someone else over your own body when it comes to deciding how much sleep you need. If you’re always tired, you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Find a rhythm that works for you.

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What causes sleep disorders?

What causes sleep disorders?

There are many causes of sleep disorders. Stress and anxiety are perhaps the most common in the modern world. On a psychological level, these can prevent the mind from calming down before bed, making it hard to slip into the peaceful state necessary to sleep. On a physiological level, stress and anxiety can alter hormone and neurotransmitter levels, which can make it much harder for the body to fall asleep.

What’s cruel about sleep disorders is that poor sleep increases stress and anxiety, which in turn makes it more difficult to fall asleep.

Other sleep disorders, like sleep apnoea, are caused when an individual intermittently stops breathing during the night. This can cause people to feel poorly rested even though they may think they’ve had adequate sleep.

Trauma can also cause sleep disorders. For example, if a person relives trauma in the form of nightmares, then these can wake people in the night and make it difficult to fall asleep again. What’s more, fear of nightmares can cause sleep anxiety, a secondary condition in which people are afraid to fall asleep in the first place.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

The effects of sleep deprivation can be very severe. Even minor sleep deprivation can negatively affect quality of life. Over a long period of time, sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Weakened immunity

On top of these effects, sleep deprivation can seriously affect a person’s relationships and ability to perform day-to-day activities, including their job.

What can you do to remedy a sleep disorder?

What can you do to remedy a sleep disorder?

If you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, there are many ways you can try to improve the situation. However, these will not solve underlying issues.

For those who suffer from sleep problems, it can be frustrating to be offered "fixes" to a problem that is much deeper than having the wrong pillow, for instance. However, along with deeper work, simple steps to improve "sleep hygiene" can help to cultivate a better environment in which to sleep.

Don’t drink alcohol before bed

Alcohol seriously disrupts sleep. Even though it might be easier to fall asleep when drunk, the quality of this sleep is significantly reduced. What’s more, if you become reliant on alcohol to sleep, then it can become even more difficult to sleep when sober.

Generally, it's advisable to stay away from alcohol in the search for sleep. It might seem to help initially, but it will eventually make the condition worse, not better.

Exercise and maintain a healthy diet

Exercise and maintain a healthy diet

It can seem annoyingly simple, and you’ve likely heard it all before, but a healthy lifestyle is essential to good sleep. If you exercise regularly and eat healthily, you’ll be giving your body the signals it needs to fall asleep easily and comfortably.

This doesn’t mean you need to become obsessive about either. Just be generally active and give your body nutrients. The effects can be surprising.

Don’t nap during the day

This differs from person to person, but napping during the day can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it harder to sleep at night. Try to push through without napping for a few days, and you might find that you can sleep more easily at night.

Cut down or avoid caffeine

Cut down or avoid caffeine

Caffeine is incredibly disruptive to sleep. Indeed, that’s why people use it. If you struggle to sleep well at night, you should avoid caffeine. The first step is to only drink it early in the morning. But even more effective might be to cut it out altogether. Caffeine has a long half-life and hangs around the body for hours and hours.

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Use earplugs and/or wear an eye mask

If you’re being kept awake by noise or light, an immediate solution might be to use earplugs or an eye mask. It can be frustrating to turn to these, as we’d all like to sleep undisturbed anyway. However, for those who don’t have a choice, these additions can be very beneficial.

Get into a rhythm

Get into a rhythm

In the longer term, sleep comes much more easily when we have a steady rhythm. Some people can do without a strict sleep schedule, while for others it is essential. Find out which camp you belong to, and be kind to yourself. Of course, you can break from your schedule from time to time, but sticking to one the vast majority of the time is really beneficial.

If you struggle to get into a reliable sleep rhythm, a good method is to set an alarm for the same time every morning. There will probably be a period when this is horrible, as it will wake you up earlier than you’d like, and you’ll be even more tired than usual. But it can take as little as two or three days of waking up at the same, early time before the body readjusts and you can fall asleep more soundly at night.

Seek professional help

Poor sleep is all too easily dismissed, but it can be seriously distressing for those who suffer from it. If you are having real issues sleeping, seek professional help. And don’t let a doctor just send you away with sleeping pills! These might work temporarily, but they won’t solve the underlying issues.

Push for therapy, or get it privately. Sleep therapy can work, and if it does, you’ll have the skills to manage your own sleep from then on.

Don’t stress

Finally, don’t stress too much. Sleep deprivation can be awful, but stressing about it can make it much harder to fall asleep at night. If you fixate on falling asleep, it’s not going to happen. It can be a long process, and it might require outside help, but learning to let go of the stress surrounding sleep is one of the best ways to fall asleep more easily.

Do something about your sleep today

Do something about your sleep today

Sleep disorders aren’t something to be dismissed. And you don’t need to be lying awake all night, every night to have one. If you regularly find that you’re not getting adequate sleep, even though you’re trying, perhaps you should try to change something for the better.

Ultimately, the change needs to happen within you for it to be sustainable. However, in the Zamnesia Healthshop, we stock supplements that might help you along the way.

Max Sargent
Max Sargent
Max has been writing for over a decade, and has come into cannabis and psychedelic journalism in the last few years. Writing for companies such as Zamnesia, Royal Queen Seeds, Cannaconnection, Gorilla Seeds, MushMagic and more, he has experience in a broad spectrum of the industry.
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