Dyssomnia refers to the collection of sleep disorders that negatively impact the quantity and quality of sleep. It can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression or other medical conditions. There are natural solutions that can help improve the quality and quantity of sleep, but before that, we need to understand more deeply the definition of dyssomnia.
What is the definition of dyssomnia?
Dyssomnia is a medical term that refers to sleep disorders. This term is derived from the ancient Greek “dys”, meaning “bad” or “difficult”, and “somnus”, meaning “sleep”.
Since sleep is an essential biological function that is beneficial for all body functions, getting a good night’s sleep is essential. However, even though it is indispensable, 45% of the population suffer from primary sleep disorders.
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Causes of Dyssomnia
The causes of dyssomnia are diverse and can come from a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes of dyssomnia include
- Stress: Stress can cause dyssomnia by making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia and Night Terrors are some of the examples caused by stress.
- Depression: Depression is a common cause of dyssomnia. Depression usually causes tiredness, which leads to extended hours of sleep, and too much sleep messes with the circadian rhythm and hormones.
- Anxiety: Anxiety can cause sleep disturbances, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, the most common symptom is Insomnia.
- Medications: Some medications, such as stimulants, can cause sleep disturbances. The most commonly used stimulants are caffeine and some antidepressants.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions can cause dyspnea. Medical conditions that can cause dyssomnia include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to these causes, it is important to be aware of the possible symptoms of dyssomnia which may include: feeling tired, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. However, experiencing any of these symptoms does not faithfully characterize a dyssomnia.
Dyssomnia can be classified according to the duration of the problem and the severity of the symptoms. This disorder can be transient, intermittent or chronic.
If it is transient, it lasts less than three weeks and the symptoms are mild. Intermittent dyssomnia lasts from three to six weeks and the symptoms can be moderate to severe. Chronic dyssomnia is a sleep disorder that lasts more than three months and the symptoms are severe.
Types of Dyssomnia
Dyssomnia can be divided into three types: Intrinsic sleep disorders, Extrinsic sleep disorders and Circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Each of these categories aggregates several sleep problems and their particularities:
Intrinsic sleep disorders
Intrinsic sleep disorders are those that are related to internal factors, such as brain chemistry or circadian rhythm.
Some examples of intrinsic sleep disorders include:
- Central Alveolar Hypoventilation Syndrome;
- Central Sleep Apnea Syndrome;
- Idiopathic Hypersomnia;
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea;
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder;
- Post-Traumatic Hypersomnia;
- Psychophysiologic Insomnia;
- Recurrent Hypersomnia;
- Restless Legs Syndrome;
- Sleep State Misperception.
Extrinsic sleep disorders
Extrinsic sleep disturbances are those that are caused by external factors such as noise, bright lights or other environmental interruptions. These disturbances can negatively affect the quality of sleep and lead to daytime tiredness.
Among the extrinsic sleep disorders, the most well known are:
- Alcohol-dependent sleep disorder;
- Food allergy insomnia;
- Inadequate sleep routine. – Excessive Blue Light exposure
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect a person’s ability to sleep and wake up in a normal rhythm.
These disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including changes in light and sound levels, changes in work or study schedules, hormonal imbalances, even underlying health problems.
Although circadian rhythm sleep disorders can affect anyone, they are more common in children and adolescents. Symptoms of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder may include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty sleeping or waking up at a desired time, and changes in mood.
The most common circadian rhythm sleep disorders are:
- Advanced sleep phase syndrome;
- Delayed sleep phase syndrome;
- Shift work sleep disorder.
What is parasomnias
Parasomnias are a type of sleep disorder that can cause abnormal behaviors or sensations to occur during sleep. These behaviors can include sleepwalking, sleep talking, sleep eating, sleep sex, and sleep paralysis. Parasomnias can also cause nightmares and night terrors.
Parasomnias were once considered a symptom of psychopathology, but studies have disputed that these disorders occur when the brain goes through REM and NREM.
Parasomnias are common among children, but they also occur in adults and have their own particularities compared to dyssomnias:
What is the difference between dyssomnias and parasomnias
The difference between dyssomnias and parasomnias is subtle. Dyssomnias are disorders that cause difficulty falling asleep, falling asleep, or both. Parasomnias are disorders that cause abnormal behaviors or experiences during sleep.
Another difference between dyssomnias and parasomnias is that dyssomnias usually involve problems with the quantity or quality of sleep, while parasomnias usually involve problems with the content of sleep.
One point in common between the two groups of disorders is the division of the categories. Both have three classes:
Dyssomnias can be divided into Intrinsic sleep disorders, Extrinsic sleep disorders, and Circadian rhythm sleep disorders. And parasomnias can be divided into Sleepwalking, Sleep terrors, and Sleep paralysis.
Fortunately there are natural solutions that can help you with these sleep problems. You can opt for a few treatments or even add some of them together for more effective results.
Treatment for Dyssomnia: Natural Alternatives
Dyssomnia is treated with a variety of methods. Some of the most common and effective treatments for dyssomnia include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that can help people change their thoughts and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people with dyssomnia learn how to sleep better.
- Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can help people with dyssomnia relax and sleep better.
- Natural supplements: There are many natural supplements that can be used to treat dyssomnia. These nutraceuticals are scientifically based and free of side effects. Some of these supplements include: 5-HTP, Ashwagandha, Chamomile, L-Tryptophan, Magnesium, Melatonin and others.
- Sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene is a set of habits that can help people sleep better. Sleep hygiene habits include avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing sleep environment. Find out more about the do’s and don’ts of sleep hygiene here.
It is important to emphasize that these alternatives are natural and effective. However, there are non-natural ways – such as medications – that help some people who suffer from dyssomnia.