How many times have you yawned in the last 24 hours? Do you feel tired?
Be careful if the answers imply that getting enough sleep is not a priority in your daily routine. Sleep deprivation has major health consequences, from mood swings to disorders such as cardiovascular diseases.
On World Sleep Day, experts alert the public to the dangers of insomnia and other sleep-related issues. According to the World Health Organization, sleep disorders impact about 45% of the world’s population, making it an epidemic.
Mônica Levy Andersen, researcher at the Sleep Institute of the Federal University of the State of São Paulo (Unifesp), provided data from her study showing that the Z generation – those born between the mid-1990s and the beginning of 2010 – is the most impacted by sleep deprivation.
This could be due to the fact that, since 1995, this generation has been directly influenced by the fourth and final major wave of sleep deprivation in modern society: the advent and popularization of the internet.
The Industrial Revolution, Electric Light and Television are the other three waves, but none can compare to the consequences of Internet access.
What are the most common sleep problems?
With dozens of sleep disorders, identifying which one you suffer from is the first step to finding the right approach. Among the most common are insomnia, excessive sleepiness, apnea, sleepwalking, and restless leg syndrome.
Each of them has its own characteristics and disrupts sleep in different degrees and ways. Check out the details about each one:
- Insomnia: Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep problem, and it can be detected by complaints of feeling tired during the day, difficulty falling asleep, difficulties remaining asleep, waking up during the night, or waking up early.
It can occur as a result of stress or sickness, such as depression, hormonal changes, or neurological illnesses, or it can be triggered by particular substances or medicines, such as alcohol, coffee, ginseng, tobacco, diuretics, or some antidepressants.
- Excessive sleepiness: Excessive daytime sleepiness is the difficulty in being awake and attentive throughout the day due to an excess of sleep, which impedes daily activities and can even put the individual in danger when driving a car or managing equipment. It is usually caused by situations that prevent adequate sleep, such as not having enough time to sleep, having interrupted sleep several times, or waking up too early, but it can also be caused by the use of certain medications that induce sleep, or by illnesses such as anemia, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, or depression.
- Apnea: Also known as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, or OSAS, this is a breathing disorder in which the respiratory flow is interrupted for 10 seconds or more due to the collapse of the airways. It is more common in men between the ages of 40 and 50, as well as in obese people, people who consume alcohol, and/or people who have alterations in the nose, mouth, or jaw. This disorder alters sleep, causing an inability to reach deeper phases and making it difficult to relax adequately. As a result, persons with sleep apnea are drowsy during the day, which can lead to headaches, loss of focus, irritability, memory impairments, and high blood pressure.
- Sleepwalking: Sleepwalking is a type of parasomnia, which is a sleep condition that causes improper behavior during sleep. Parasomnias produce a disruption in the sleep pattern due to the activation of parts of the brain at inappropriate periods. Although it can occur at any age, it is more frequent in children. Sleepwalkers exhibit complicated motor actions such as walking or talking and may later wake up or return to sleep properly. In most cases, there is little or no remembrance of what occurred.
- Restless legs syndrome: Restless legs syndrome is a neurological illness that creates a sensation of discomfort in the legs, which is frequently accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. It usually manifests itself during rest or before bedtime. It is most likely hereditary in origin and can be exacerbated by periods of stress, the use of stimulant chemicals such as caffeine or alcohol, or in the presence of neurological and psychiatric diseases. This syndrome disrupts sleep and might induce tiredness and fatigue during the day.