While sleep requirements vary slightly between individuals, studies have found that most healthy adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night for optimal performance. Children and teens need even more. In 2018, the University of Western Ontario conducted the world’s largest sleep study. Preliminary results from this study found that people who sleep on average between 7 to 8 hours per night performed better cognitively than those who slept less, or more, than this amount.
The point is, quality sleep is important. However, the sad reality is that most adults do not get sufficient sleep. A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that 35% of adults rated their sleep as “poor” or “fair,” and 25% reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed at least once in the past 7 days. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even declared insufficient sleep a national health epidemic.
Reasons for insufficient sleep ranges from inconsistent work schedules to electronic usage, to lack of exercise. Some people, however, can’t sleep due to a sleep disorder, which can range from something as common as insomnia to rarer conditions such as REM sleep behavior disorder. Below are 8 of the most common sleep disorders that affect adults.
Causes: Anxiety or depression; physical pain or injuries; high stress levels; drugs or alcohol abuse; and certain medications.
Symptoms: Difficulty falling asleep and then maintaining that sleep. According to WebMD, patients must suffer from insomnia symptoms for at least three months straight to be diagnosed with the disorder.
Treatment: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and certain medication.
Prevalence: About one-third of Americans suffer from insomnia.
Causes: A partial or complete obstruction of the throat.
Symptoms: Daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and excessively loud snoring. Apnea may cause you to stop breathing multiple times per night which can become very dangerous when mixed with other severe conditions such as obesity.
Treatment: The standard treatment for sleep apnea are CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These machines release a steady stream of air throughout the night to keep a person’s throat open.
Prevalence: About 20% of adults suffer from a mild form of apnea.
Causes: The underlying cause of restless leg syndrome (RLS) is unknown, but experts believe that it may be hereditary. Medication and pregnancy have been known to cause or worsen RLS.
Symptoms: An irresistible urge to move limbs, most commonly the legs. Often occurs after extended periods of rest (i.e. in a car, plane, theatre or bed).
Treatment: Regular exercise; use of warm or cool packs; reduction in caffeine and alcohol intake. For severe cases, medication therapy is prescribed to reduce restlessness.
Prevalence: About 10% of people suffers from RLS, more commonly in women.
Causes: The exact cause of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is still unknown, but experts have noted that various degenerative diseases (i.e. Parkinson’s disease and dementia) are associated with RBD.
Symptoms: People with RBD physically act out their dreams, which leads to kicking, punching, jumping and other sudden and intense movements. Some patients will produce noises during sleep such as talking, laughing or shouting.
Treatment: Physical safeguards around your sleeping area, and prescription medication.
Prevalence: Prevalence of RBD is extremely rare. Only approximately 0.5% of the population is affected by this condition.
Causes: The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown. But patients commonly have low levels of hypocretin, a chemical in the brain that controls REM sleep.
Symptoms: People with narcolepsy suffer with excessive daytime sleepiness—falling asleep without warning, anywhere, anytime. Those with narcolepsy can also suffer from cataplexy, a condition that leads to weakness in muscles and uncontrollable, intense emotions. Other notable symptoms include sleep paralysis, changes in REM sleep and even hallucinations.
Treatment: Since there is no cure for narcolepsy, medications and lifestyle modifications are recommended to manage the symptoms.
Prevalence: About 0.02% of adults worldwide are affected by this condition.
Causes: Common triggers for sleepwalking include sleep deprivation, certain medications, and illnesses or fevers.
Symptoms: Sleepwalkers may walk while sleeping, experience sleep terrors, engage in unusual behaviors such as sexual activity or urinating in a closet, and even become violent. The scariest part is they have no control or recollection of doing these inappropriate behaviors.
Treatment: For long-term sleepwalkers, prescription medication is an option to manage the condition. Otherwise, some common ways of combatting isolated sleepwalking incidents are to keep dangerous items out of reach from the bed, set up bells on doors to alert the sleepwalker and others, build a quiet sleep environment and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Prevalence: Sleepwalking is estimated to affect between 1% to 15% of people – most commonly in children. Experts theorize that it has something to do with brain development.
Causes: Sleep terrors can be caused by sleep deprivation, stress, existing disorders such as RLS and sleep apnea, and some medications.
Symptoms: Screaming and shouting, and potentially dangerous movements during sleep. It can be very difficult to calm them down immediately after waking from a sleep terror, and often they have no recollection of what happened in their sleep.
Treatment: Improve sleep environment, manage stress, and—in rare and extreme cases—medication.
Prevalence: Between 1-6% of children and less than 1% of adults suffer from sleep terrors. Those with panic disorders and PTSD are more likely to suffer from this condition.
Causes: Most commonly caused by excessive stress and anxiety. But can also be caused by an abnormal bite or missing teeth, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Symptoms: Headaches, sore jaw, facial pain and stiffness, and disrupted sleep (for you and your partner).
Treatment: Practice stress and anxiety management, wear a custom-fitted mouth guard, and experiment with different sleep positions.
Prevalence: Between 8% to 31% of people are affected by bruxism.
Kratom can have different effects depending on the individual, dosage, the strain and other factors. Scientific research on Kratom is ongoing.
In 2017, a review was conducted to confirm the effects of Kratom. Among some users, Kratom was able to relieve anxiety and enhance mood. The research also highlighted that the plant may have sedative effects. Which can help with better sleep.
On the other hand, the research also found that Kratom can produce negative health side effects, primarily withdrawal symptoms. Although these withdrawal symptoms appear to be mild relative to those produced by other “similar substances”.
Interestingly, according to WebMD, many people actually use Kratom to combat pre-existing withdrawal symptoms, anxiety and many other conditions.
It just goes to show that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the uses of Kratom. The best way to find out more about Kratom is to read up on user testimonials on Reddit or Twitter, and conduct our own research online.
Organizations like Kratom Society and American Kratom Association are also good sources for research purposes.