July 21, 2017
Sleep is an essential part of a person’s over-all health and well-being. There’s no debate about that. But what most people take for granted is that how we sleep matters. Sleeping habits can reveal so much about our health.
It does not stop with just hitting the hay. The sleep and health connection is strong and the habits you think are harmless may just expose a health condition that you did not know you had. Sleep is a great communicator, easily revealing illnesses and problems prowling beneath the surface. Do you often toss and turn? Do you grind your teeth? Do you wake up in the middle of the night? Do you wake up tired the following day?
Let us go over your sleeping habits and what they say about your health. You might be having health problems related to sleep that you don’t know about.
What does moving non-stop throughout the night say about your sleep health? The answer could be Restless Leg Syndrome. According to the National Sleep Foundation, RLS or Willis-Ekbom Disease is a sleep-related movement disorder that affects one in 10 Americans. It is characterized by overwhelming and frequent urges to move the legs while at rest.
RLS, an abnormality in the dopamine or the brain chemical involved with motor control, occurs during inactivity and temporarily relieved by movement or pressure. They attack commonly in the evening, disrupting a person’s sleep. People who suffer from RLS would always feel the urge to walk, jiggle their legs, stretch, and toss and turn throughout the night. RLS could be the reason you suddenly wake up and then find it hard to get back to sleep again. It is often linked to depression, heart attacks, and stroke.
Apart from medication, moderate exercise, stretching, massage, and hot and cool packs can help relax the muscles. A mattress made of natural latex foam can also help minimize tossing and turning because of its elastic properties that promote ideal body support.
Snoring is so common that many people just sweep it under the rug. But this habit is one of the most common symptoms for some of the most serious health problems related to sleep or other health conditions. Snoring happens when the air flow from the mouth and nose is obstructed. Some just snore during a sinus infection but other snore all the time.
What could this mean? You could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea wherein pauses in breathing can be experienced due to blockage of the airway. This could result in disruptive sleep or worse, a strain in the heart. Prolonged suffering from this sleep-related illness increases risks of heart attack or stroke.
There are people who study better when the music is loud or sleep better when the television is on, muted or not. You’d think this is just preference and you need not worry about it. If you’re lucky, then maybe, but sleep experts say that this sleeping habit may be a symptom of anxiety.
Sleep researcher John Wilkelman says that some people feel anxious about being in a dark and quiet room and they need to be distracted from their own thoughts. He says television “helps deflect feelings and compensates for worries.” Light from the TV was also found to increase stress hormones. Sleep experts suggest to consider meditation or reading a book to calm you down.
If you think you’ve been sleep-deprived and you have worked too hard during the week, sleeping for 12 hours straight may seem like a reward. But if you sleep for more than 10 hours every day and sleeping for more than what is required, your thyroid may be at fault.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, causes oversleeping and difficulty to wake up when you have to. Excessive sleeping may also indicate the need to check your thyroid’s ability to regulate metabolism. An underactive thyroid causes weight gain and fatigue. But what if your thyroid is overactive? Just the same, hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, rapid heart rate, and insomnia — all of which are disruptive to sleep.
When drifting to dreamland, we knowingly or unknowingly slide to a familiar position. It could just be our way of feeling comfortable but sleep experts say sleeping positions say a lot about our over-all sleep health.
Sleeping on your stomach is said to be the worst sleeping position. The position is bad for your spine health and posture and puts pressure on joints and muscles. Curling up in a fetal position is also not ideal as it increases risks for neck and back pain. Sleeping on your back and on your side are the best sleeping positions as they are ideal for back, neck, and head support. Mattresses promoting sleep health will also give your body the optimum support it needs with revolutionary technology such as pocket and inner springs, latex, and memory foam.
Your sleeping habits may mean nothing to you. For as long as get shut-eye, you think you’re fine. But your body is telling you something with the way you sleep, so listen to it. Beware of the red flags so you can do something about them, avoid serious health problems related to sleep, and have a peaceful, good night sleep.