Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sleep 101: Understanding Sleep Cycle

Nearly everyone is struggling to meet the demands of modern life. For some, cutting back on sleep seems like the only solution. They need to manage a hectic schedule at the expense of sufficient rest and recreation. Having eight hours of sleep really sounds great, but how many people can really afford to spend so much time sleeping? Many adults today spend more time working and only get a few hours of slumber. They tend to forget the importance of sleep.

Sleep has different cycles and stages. Each can restore and refresh your body and mind. Minimal sleep loss may affect your energy, mood, efficiency, and ability to manage stress. If you want to stay healthy, or you want to be in your best form, you shouldn't consider sleep as luxury.

Sleep belongs to physical and physiological needs. People should know more about its importance. It is also advisable to know what people can do to recover from chronic sleep loss and how to get a healthy sleep cycle.

Importance of sleep

Sleep is the state of unconsciousness from which a person is aroused. During this stage, the brain is relatively more responsive to internal stimuli than external ones. Sleep is very important for the normal and healthy functioning of your body.

Everyone knows sleep is important for their health and wellness. Still, many people fail to get enough sleep. According to a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) survey, over 40 million Americans suffer from 70 different sleep disorders, and 60 percent of adults report having sleep troubles a few nights a week and more.

Most people with sleep issues do not really seek medical attention. The report also shows that around 35-40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness at least several weeks a month, severe enough to interrupt their daily routines. 20 percent of them report sleeping problems a few days a week or more. The findings also show that 70 percent of children experience one or more sleep disorder a few night or more during a week. These sleep problems are affecting the normal sleep cycle.
Understanding the human sleep cycle

The human body regulates through different processes in the cerebrum. The response depends on how long you've been active, and the changes between daytime and nighttime. At night, the body responds to the loss of daylight. This is because it produces melatonin, a hormone that makes people sleepy. During daytime, sunlight may trigger your brain to reduce production of melatonin. This causes the human body to feel more awake and active.

There are factors affecting the sleep cycle. These include traveling across time zones, working night shifts, irregular sleeping patterns, and rare disorders like the Pickwickian Syndrome.

What is Pickwikian syndrome?

Pickwikian Syndrome or PS is a condition, which occurs mostly to severely overweight people. People who suffer from this syndrome experience breathing difficulty during sleep. This can reduce blood oxygen levels and raise carbon dioxide levels. Signs and symptoms may include obstructive sleep apnea. It is a condition characterized by snoring. This condition may also result to excessive daytime sleepiness.

Georgina Taylor is a fitness instructor knowledgeable on the normal sleep cycle and Pickwickian syndrome.

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Pickwickian Syndrome and Its Effects on the Human Sleep Cycle

What is this syndrome about and how did it get its name?
This syndrome is often found in obese individuals. Their excessive weight leads to intense pressure against the chest walls. In turn, breathing is disrupted. This syndrome is characterized by an obese person's inability to breathe deeply or rapidly enough. As a result, the blood has lower oxygen level and higher carbon dioxide concentration. This often leads to sleep disruption.
Most syndromes are named after the doctor who first discovers it. This is not the case with Pickwickian syndrome. The name is derived from a literary character by Charles Dickens. This is because in Dickens's 1837 novel "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club," a character named Joe exhibited all the symptoms of the disorder. The character was obese and experienced difficulty in sleeping. Although it is named as such, most doctors today refer to it as obesity hypoventilation disorder.
What are the signs and symptoms? What effect does it have on health?
Individuals who suffer from the syndrome often experience poor sleep quality, leading to lack of sleep. This lack of sleep then leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms include difficulty staying awake during the day and extreme drowsiness. In some cases, it can also lead to depression, irritability, and headaches. Drowsiness and headaches are caused by the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Low oxygen levels in the bloodstream can also lead to heart strain.
People with OHD have a hard time staying awake during the day. Those who suffer from it end up falling asleep while doing simple day to day tasks. There have also been reports linking the drowsiness caused by the Pickwickian syndrome to car accidents. This is called driving drowsiness, and it can lead to fatal accidents.
What are the treatment methods?
Because the syndrome is linked with obesity, the most obvious treatment is weight loss. This can be achieved through common ways such as diet and exercise. For extreme cases, weight loss surgery is sometimes necessary.
Weight loss, especially in the case of the obese, is a difficult thing to achieve. It takes a lot of commitment, especially for those who work full time jobs. Apart from the difficulty finding the time, weight loss regimens also take lots of time. It's a gradual process - not instant. Doctors have realized this, and it's the reason why they have come up with treatment methods for breathing assistance. These methods involve the use of special machines that are invasive or non-invasive. It's up to the patient to decide which option to use. Of course, choosing the option shouldn't be done solely by the patient. It's best to consult with a physician or specialist before taking action.
It's also important to remember that the symptoms of OHD have been found in non-obese individuals. Anyone showing symptoms of OHD, obese or not, should get checked by a doctor. Treatment is essential to restore the individual's regular sleep cycle.
Tia Arnold is a physician who has assisted many patients who have problems with their sleep cycle. For more resources on how you can get help with your problem, please read up about pickwickian syndrome and more.
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