According to Harvard Medical School, chronic sleep problems affect up to 80 percent of psychiatric patients. Sleep problems are especially prevalent in patients that have depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety.
It was once thought that insomnia and other sleep issues were a symptom of psychiatric disorders. Research indicates that sleep problems may actually contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders. Treating sleep disorders may improve symptoms of the mental health disorder.
Types of Sleep Disorders
There are over 70 types of sleep disorders. Here are some of the most common types of sleep disorders.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, affecting approximately 1 in 10 adults. Individuals with insomnia have chronic problems trouble falling asleep or they might wake up frequently during the night. Insomnia typically affects daytime activities, causing diminished functioning during the day. It often causes memory and concentration problems.
Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders
Sleep disorders that cause problems with breathing during sleep are called sleep-related breathing disorders. These include snoring and sleep apnea.
Individuals with Narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM sleep. It is common for people with this neurological disorder to experience significant fatigue. They often fall asleep in unusual places and at odd times, such as during school or work. Sometimes, a nap will help. The nap only helps temporarily. The sleepiness often re-appears a few hours later.
Lifestyle and Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders
There are a number of lifestyle and behavioral changes can help improve sleep disorders.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to environmental factors, habits and practices that are related to sleep. Good sleep hygiene practices can help you improve your nighttime sleep.
Have a Regular Sleep Schedule
Maintaining a regular sleep and wake pattern can help improve sleep. This means spending the right amount of hours sleeping, not too many or too few as both are problematic. Most adults need at least eight hours of sleep a day. Some people may need a little less or a little more.
Caffeine and nicotine can cause disruptions in sleep. Caffeine, even if consumed early, can stay in the body for as long as 14 hours and disrupt sleep. Nicotine can also disrupt sleep, as it is a stimulant, as well. Although, alcohol may initially cause sleepiness after it is metabolized from your system during sleep it can cause wakefulness.
Cope With Stressors
Psychological stress can wreck havoc on sleep. Break the connection between stress and bedtime by thinking about how to deal with them during the day. Also, having some time of bedtime routine or relaxing activity before falling asleep can help. This might be reading or taking a relaxing bath.
Make Sure That You Have a Suitable Sleep Environment
Ideally, it should be dark, cool and silent. Purchase blackout curtains if it is too light. If there is a lot of noise then wear earplugs. Turn down the heat before bed to ensure that it is a bit cooler than normal.