World Sleep Society: Sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, seek professional help

18 Mar 2022 01:22pm
(Illustrative purposes. Source: 123rf)
(Illustrative purposes. Source: 123rf)

Find it difficult to get a good quality sleep amidst all the chaos happening around you? You are not alone.

The World Sleep Society celebrates World Sleep Day today across 70 countries to raise awareness on the importance of good sleep and a call to action on vital issues related to sleep.

This year marks its 15th annual celebration, themed “quality sleep, sound mind, happy world”.

According to World Sleep Society, there are three elements to make a good quality sleep; duration, continuity and depth.

The length of sleep should sufficient for the sleeper to be rested and alert the following day. The sleep periods should also be seamless without fragmentation and deep enough to be restorative.

The society aims to have a better understanding of sleep conditions and to have more research into the area in a bid to reduce the burden of sleep disorders in society.

It said lack of sleep or poor quality sleep is known to have a significant negative impact on our health in the long and short term. While next-day effects of poor quality sleep include a negative impact on our attention span, memory recall and learning.

Longer-term effects are being studied, but poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation has been associated with significant health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, weakened immune systems and even some cancers. It is also related to many psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.

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“We spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping. Sleep is a basic human need, much like eating and drinking, and is crucial to our overall health and well-being.

“Sleep, like exercise and nutrition, is essential for metabolic regulation in children. There is evidence for a link between sleep duration and childhood obesity where the findings are more apparent in girls. Sleep duration is the effect of day-to-day variability of sleep-wake timing on weight regulation,” the society said in a statement.

The society said while sporadic changes in sleep and dreaming are normal, and sleep naturally responds to environmental fluctuation, extreme factors and traumatic experiences can lead to severe changes in sleep patterns, including altered dream content or more nightmares.

“It is shown that sleep supports the formation of emotional episodic memories throughout all the stages that compose memory processing.

“On the contrary, sleep loss deteriorates both the encoding of emotional information and the emotional memory consolidation processes,” it said.

It has been reported that 35 per cent of people do not feel they get enough sleep, impacting both their physical and mental health.

The society said among sleeping disorders include obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which affects approximately 4 per cent of the adult population. If not properly managed, OSA can have a significant impact on a person’s health and well-being.

Another disorder is the Restless Legs Syndrome, a common disorder that occurs in between 3-10 per cent of the population. It said although the number of people affected and the severity of the condition differs between countries.

Meanwhile, the most notable sleep disorder; insomnia affects 30-45 per cent of the adult population, whereby primary insomnia (insomnia with no underlying condition) affects 1-10 per cent of the general population, increasing up to 25 per cent in the elderly. Studies showed those with insomnia suffer from more symptoms of anxiety and depression than those without.

The society adds that sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up to 45 per cent of the world’s population.

However, it said most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, yet less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help.

The World Society said most sleep problems can be managed by changing behaviours around sleep, medical therapy, or cognitive behavioural therapy.

Here are 10 tips for a night of better sleep:

1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.

2. Allow yourself to take a nap if you're tired.

3. Adjust to a healthier lifestyle and nutritious meals.

4. Create caffeine cut-off time.

5. Change up your bedtime snack.

6. Watch your workout routine.

7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.

8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.

9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.

10. Reserve your bed for sleep and relaxation, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.