Did you know that sleep disorders are treatable?
Millions of people around the world suffer from sleep disorders and most of them have no idea, in fact, sleep disorders seem normal to most people.
The truth is, they are common, but not necessarily normal, in that they can be as a result of underlying causes such as certain allergies and respiratory problems like chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis, stress and anxiety, among other factors. Some of the common sleep disorders are insomnia, parasomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS) and narcolepsy, among many other sleep disorders.
Though different and caused by somewhat different factors, sleep disorders have some similar symptoms like having difficulty falling or staying asleep, poor sleep quality, sleeping at the wrong time and not getting enough sleep.
Sleep Disorder diagnosis and treatment
We at International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT) understand how important finding and treating sleep disorders is and therefore, at one of our partner hospitals, Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand, you can get quality diagnosis and treatment for sleep disorders..
How can you know whether you have a sleep disorder?
Yes, sleep disorders can be diagnosed. The doctor starts by performing a physical exam to help in gathering as much information as possible about your symptoms, and your medical history, after which tests will be done to determine what is causing your sleep disorder. These tests include:
- Polysomnography: This test evaluates body movements, oxygen levels and brain waves to help in determining how these factors disrupt sleep.
- Electroencephalogram: This test assesses electrical; activity in the brain and detects any potential problems associated with this activity.
- Genetic blood testing: It is commonly used to diagnose narcolepsy as well as underlying health conditions that might be the cause of sleep problems.
At Bumrungrad, other tests like;
- ENT examination for the nose, mouth, throat and palate, and
- Continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) assessment are also done to help in determining what the cause of your sleep disorder is.
The treatment of sleep disorders depends on the specific disorder and its underlying cause. There are several ways through which sleep disorders can be treated, including:
- Use of medication which can help to:
1. Treat underlying health problems causing sleep disorder,
2. Help you sleep,
3. Control allergy
4. Treat a cold,
- Laser and conventional surgery like uvular trimming and other throat or palate surgeries.
- Using a breathing device for people with respiratory problems as the cause of their sleep disorders.
- Lifestyle changes like:
1. Taking a bath before bed,
2. Avoiding or limiting caffeine intake in the afternoon or evening,
3. Practising proper stress and anxiety management for example through exercising, and
4. Eating a healthy diet with more vegetables, fruits and fish, and reducing sugar intake. Also, eat smaller low carbohydrate meals before bedtime.
- Sleep therapy: This is what is scientifically referred to as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); it focuses on both behaviour and thoughts which can be major causes of sleep disorders. Why this treatment option is more effective than medication is because, unlike sleep medication that treats the symptoms of sleep disorder, CBT focuses on treating the underlying causes of these disorders. Due to the different causes of sleep disorders in individuals, this therapy should be tailored to one’s specific problems.
So, how does cognitive behavioural therapy work?
Throughout the day, we unknowingly do things that can compromise our sleep. Though therapy we can be able to learn how to be in control of the thoughts and behaviours that make sleeping a struggle.
- Cognitive therapy teaches you to be aware of the negative beliefs and thoughts that contribute to your sleep problems and be able to change them. Through this therapy, one is able to identify challenge and replace negative thoughts with realistic ones.
- Behavioural therapy on the other hand teaches you to avoid behaviours that prevent you from sleeping and replace them with better ones that will contribute to better sleep habits.
Behavioural therapy uses the following techniques:
- Stimulus control therapy: This technique is about identifying and changing sleep habits that hinder you from sleeping well. Some of these habits include working in bed or watching TV in bed instead of sleeping.
- Sleep restriction therapy (SRT): As the name suggests, this technique works to reduce the amount of time you spend in bed awake. It does this by eliminating naps and forcing a person to stay up past their normal bedtime. It is more effective in treating insomnia.
- Paradoxical intention: It refers to remaining passively awake which helps you to stop getting anxiety worrying about being able to sleep. By remaining passively awake, you are able to unwind and fall asleep.
- Improving your sleep environment and sleep hygiene: You should sleep in a quiet, cool and comfortable place. In instances where you are not in control of some factors, the therapist may recommend earplugs or a sound machine to block out noise.
- Biofeedback: This technique uses sensors to measure specific physiological functions like breathing, muscle tension and heart rate, teaching you to be able to identify and control your body’s response to anxiety which affects your sleep patterns.
- Relaxation training: There are several ways you can practise relaxation, which include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and through breathing exercises which can help you relax at night, relieve anxiety and tension and prepare you to sleep better.
Therapy is great, but if you are not making effort yourself to make it work for you, it might not be effective. You can make therapy more effective by:
- Managing your stress and anxiety. What thoughts do to our body is that they make the body release adrenaline which stimulates the body making it hard for you to sleep.
- Watch what you eat and when you eat; eat at least two hours before going to bed and avoid caffeinated beverages and sugary foods at least 8 hours before bed.
- Add more physical activity to your day because exercises help to relieve stress and anxiety. Spend at least 30 minutes on exercise daily, however, not just before sleeping.
Choosing to get sleep disorder treatment at Bumrungrad is a great choice as the hospital has state-of-the-art facilities like:
- Sleep Testing Center: A comfortable inpatient facility where patients spend one night in a specially designed sleeping environment. A computerized polysomnograph closely monitors patients’ vital signs, brain waves (EEG), breathing patterns, oxygen saturation and other parameters.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device (CPAP): A device that ensures adequate passage of air into the airway by delivering a painless stream of pressurized air into the throat during sleep.
- Laser Surgery Center
- Radiofrequency equipment
Sleep is very important and without enough, good quality sleep, you might not be as productive as you should be, whether it is in your job, school or in other responsibilities you may have.
The good news is that you can actually be in control of your sleep habits. You can train yourself to sleep well so if you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, be more alert about what might be causing that and try to adjust towards getting better sleep.
If you are unable to do that on your own, you should see a medical professional because there can be underlying factors causing the sleep disorder. Sleep disorders may seem so minor, but they are not because they negatively affect our lives.
Through treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy, you can be in more control of your sleep and live a more productive life. to this type of cancer such as liver fluke infection.