Sleep Disorders and Their Treatments on the Rise

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The number of sleep disorder diagnoses worldwide is discouraging enough in its own right. However, the really alarming information is the rise in number of sleep disorders diagnosed among children and teens. The problem is, it isn’t just children. Sleep disorders among women are also on the rise, according to Living Healthy News, as are emergency room visits related to prescribed sleep medications such as Ambien.

Sleep Disorders Among Children

The big question, when it comes to a childhood diagnosis of a sleep disorder, is why? Why the sudden increase in frequency of these diagnoses, and why the need? A recent Miami Herald article blames the rise in childhood sleep disorders to increasing access to technology. The bright lights in many of these devices convinces the young brains that it’s still daytime, and so their brains do not produce an adequate amount of melatonin to aid in sleep. This lack of sleep causes a reduction in the ability to focus, increases hyperactivity, and is often misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The Wall Street Journal approaches the issue of childhood sleep disorders from a different angle, and explores medical issues such as childhood obesity, sleep apnea, and various parasomnias like night terrors or sleepwalking. The bottom line is that they’re discovering far greater problems than late afternoon caffeine consumption or watching television before bed.

For the moment, first-step recommendations are to eliminate technology after bedtime — all of it, reduce caffeine intake, and develop a nightly bedtime ritual with your children. If these things are ineffective, consider seeking medical intervention to find out what’s causing the sleep problems with your child. Sometimes the solution is a medically-supervised weight loss regimen. Other times, surgical procedures may be required or even overnight sleep studies in a sleep lab to identify the specific sleep problems your child may have.

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Sleep Disorders Among Women

Women today are under a lot of pressure to succeed, achieve, and do more. It’s a lot of responsibility for the average woman to face, and success doesn’t come without its fair share of sacrifice. One of the biggest sacrifices is a profound lack of sleep. Why is sleep often one of the biggest sacrifices? According to a recent Living Healthy News article, it’s often a combination of stress, poor diets, and, ironically, medication.

Incidentally, despite the rise in frequency of zolpidem (the active ingredient in Ambien) related emergency room visits, cites WebMD, “Women accounted for 68% of emergency department visits related to adverse reactions to zolpidem in 2010. The differences between men and women fluctuated during the 5-year period, but overall women made up a greater number of the zolpidem-related emergency visits in every year but 2008.”

Overall, sleep disorder diagnoses are on the rise. This, combined with an increase in treatment-related problems, is leaving the medical community struggling to offer effective treatment solutions. Keep in mind, there are a few things that can be done overall to improve sleep, including improving your sleep hygiene, investing in a quality mattress, and making your sleep environment more conducive to sleep.

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