Did you know that approximately 35% of Canadians suffer from a sleep disorder? Sleep is one of the most important aspects of life, and your overall health is directly related to how well you sleep. Understanding what sleep disorders are and how they can be treated will help you get better quality sleep every night.
Why do we need sleep?
Sleep is important for overall health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep can lead to impaired alertness, reduced attention span, and poor memory. It can also affect mood, causing irritability and anxiety. Sleep deprivation can make it harder to think clearly and make decisions.
Insufficient sleep can also diminish our ability to heal from injury and disease, slow our repair processes, and leave us more susceptible to illnesses as it weakens our immune system. And, if that weren’t bad enough, it also accelerates the aging process.
How much sleep is necessary?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re not getting the recommended amount of shut eye, it can affect both your health and quality of life.
What causes sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders include insomnia, problems not feeling rested despite number of sleep hours, sleep walking or talking, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. Sleep disorders can have a variety of causes, but they generally fall into two categories: primary and secondary.
Primary sleep disorders are those that have no known cause. They may be genetic, but they’re not associated with any other medical or mental health conditions. Examples of this could be sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome if there is no known associated condition.
Secondary sleep disorders are caused by another condition or factor. An example of this is insomnia caused by an underlying issue like stress or anxiety.
What are the types of common sleep disorders?
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, and it is a broad category covering a wide range of issues. It affects about one in three adults and can cause poor quality of life, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and increased work absenteeism.
Common types of insomnia include:
- Transient insomnia: This type of insomnia usually lasts less than one week and occurs in response to an event like a work deadline, upcoming exam, flu, or time change.
- Short-term insomnia: This type of insomnia lasts up to three months and may be caused by stress or injury. It’s also common in people who are adjusting to new medication or changes in their environment like moving homes or jobs.
- Long-term or chronic insomnia: This type of insomnia lasts more than three months and can occur if you experience stress, anxiety, or depression on a regular basis.
2. Sleep apnea
This condition occurs when someone’s breathing is interrupted by their airway collapsing or becoming blocked while they are sleeping. It may occur because of excess weight, narrowed airway, older age, congestive heart failure disease, smoking, nasal congestion, alcohol, sedatives, and opioid pain medications.
If you have sleep apnea, it will make you snort, gasp, or choke as your airways narrow or close, causing you to not get in enough air. When your brain senses the lowered oxygen levels, it wakes you briefly—sometimes as frequently as 30 times per hour—but usually so briefly that you don’t remember it. This can leave you feeling tired during the day. But, worse, it can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and liver issues. Furthermore, if you have a sleep partner, they may also be impacted as your loud snoring, snorting, and ceasing to breathe cause them to be sleep deprived.
3. Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that causes unpleasant sensations in your legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them. These sensations may occur when you’re sitting still or lying down. RLS can disrupt the quality of your sleep so that it’s not restful at all for both you and your sleep partner.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy experience sudden and uncontrollable sleep attacks during the day. Type 1 narcolepsy involves both excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy, a sudden muscle weakness that is triggered by strong emotions. This can cause slurred speech, head drooping, or falling down, and it can last for a few seconds or a few minutes. Type 2 narcolepsy does not involve cataplexy.
What are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep?
Sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing. If you are having trouble sleeping, it can affect your mood, energy level, and overall quality of life, so here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Create a regular wind-down routine, turning of backlit screens and doing something relaxing like reading a book, stretching, meditating, or practicing breathwork before bedtime.
- Don’t exercise too close to bedtime. You may have trouble falling asleep after exercising.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool enough.
- Don’t eat or drink anything with caffeine in it for six to ten hours before bedtime, depending on how sensitive your body is to this stimulant.
- Don’t eat a large meal within a few hours of bedtime.
Take Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi is one of the most powerful medicinal mushrooms available, and they have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. In fact, reishi has been shown to help with a wide range of conditions and ailments, including sleep disorders. The reishi mushroom contains polysaccharides and triterpenes that can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer. While it is not a sedative—meaning you can take it during the daytime, and it won’t make you drowsy—TCM practitioners have long classified reishi in a grouping of herbs that calm the mind.
Reishi contains polysaccharides, which are complex carbohydrates that are very high in antioxidants. Reishi mushrooms also contain triterpenoids that have been found to have calming and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
Because sleep disorders are often caused by or aggravated by stress or anxiety, taking an herbal remedy that helps calm the nervous system can promote deep restorative sleep. Additionally, as an adaptogen, it can help restore the body’s ability to heal underlying conditions contributing to or caused by sleep issues. And, as an energy tonic that is not a stimulant, it can help during the daytime, when you need to be alert and attentive.
If you’re looking for a way to address both the causes of and the results of sleep disorders, the powerful adaptogenic reishi mushroom is an excellent option as part of your health plan.