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Beating Sleepless Nights I

Article

13. 12. 2017

In today’s fast-paced, work-heavy and technology-driven world, it’s not so easy to get your eight hours anymore. Gone are the days of hot cocoa and counting sheep to help you nod off, and sleep disorders can be caused by a variety of reasons including hormonal changes, lifestyle changes and health problems. Sleep disorders can also change depending on your age, often disorders present in children will settle before adulthood.

The benefits of a good night of sleep are plentiful, and can impact your general health and wellbeing more than you might expect. Lack of sleep is detrimental to concentration and focus, positive interactions in your social life and has been linked to mental and physical health problems such as diabetes and obesity.

Some of the most common sleep disorders include:

Insomnia

Studies conducted in 2015 showed that around 25% of adults in the Czech Republic suffer from chronic insomnia, and that’s not to mention those who suffer acutely, having the odd few restless nights now and again.

Insomnia is frustrating and debilitating, but you may not realise that you are suffering. The most obvious symptoms include difficulty or complete inability to fall asleep, then when you do, you will likely wake often and struggle to drift off again. If you are lucky enough to snatch a few hours rest, you may find yourself waking up much earlier than planned, and struggling with the effects of excessive sleepiness throughout the day. Insomnia can be more common in women than men.

The list of causes for insomnia is long, but can include depression, worry and anxiety, hearing bad news, stress, other illnesses or pain-related conditions, environmental or lifestyle factors, for example living in a noisy area or drinking an excessive amount of caffeine during the day.

For some sufferers, the good news is that you can treat insomnia with simple behavioural changes. Many sufferers see great results from meditation exercises or apps, and relaxation breathing techniques or gentle exercise and yoga before bed can be a great help. Sometimes, being in a better headspace can help to beat insomnia, as the longer you struggle the more you can build it up to be unbeatable.

Having a device blackout for at least an hour before you go to bed can also help - the constant stimulation from our smartphones and tablets can keep our brain active, and shutting off any internet sources in your room overnight can also show good results - the constant signals emitted every ten minutes or so from the device can break your sleeping pattern without you even noticing. Cutting out caffeine or alcohol a few hours before you usually go to bed can also make a big difference - you may not realise how these substances are affecting your body until you go without!

If your insomnia has reached a point where self-help does not feel possible, don’t panic, as there are other options. Definitely seek medical advice, and your doctor can help you to decide which is the best option for you.

Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs when the walls of your throat relax during sleep, which causes them to narrow and interrupt your regular breathing pattern. The temporary lack of oxygen going to the brain pulls you out of your deep sleep, and either wakes you completely, or brings you into a light, and easily breakable, sleep. Thankfully, normal breathing is resumed during this part of the episode!

Sleep apnoea may sound terrifying, but in common cases, the side effects caused can be less frightening, and similar to insomnia - exhaustion, irritability, low mood, and often some of the symptoms can be worse for your partner than yourself! Often, sufferers do not remember the episodes or do not wake, so will have no awareness of it, but symptoms can include loud snoring or gasping for breath.

Age, hormonal changes, weight gain and habits such as smoking can all cause or contribute to sleep apnoea. Interestingly, opposite to insomnia, sleep apnoea is more likely to appear in men. This condition can increase your risk of other conditions such as high blood pressure or heart complications, so medical advice is definitely advised, as there are a few different courses of treatment that your doctor can give you to help beat it!

Restless Leg Syndrome

One in ten people suffer with restless leg syndrome, and it in itself can lead to insomnia or other sleep disorders. Restless leg syndrome is a pretty unusual condition, that causes the sufferer to feel like their legs need to be moving constantly, as when still they can feel like they are twinging, twitching, wobbling or have a crawling sensation trapped inside. This condition can also be common in children, but is often mistaken for ‘growing pains’. These symptoms typically appear at night, and sometimes don’t go away even if the sufferer gets up to move around. In very extreme cases it can also affect the arms.

Causes and cures for this one are pretty unknown, but some doctors believe it to be caused by other health conditions such as low iron or how your body reacts to it’s own dopamine. If you get checked out and find that you don’t have issues with either of these things, you can try daily exercise and developing good sleeping habits.

Even without these sleep disorders, many people struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. Many of the treatments mentioned for these specific disorders can help with general bedtime problems, and establishing good habits and a consistent routine can lead to great results!

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