It doesn’t take much more than missing out on one night of sleep to begin to wonder just how long someone can function without sleep. There’s no doubt that a few hours of missed sleep diminishes your ability to function at optimal levels. A full night without sleep can leave you disoriented, light-headed, and extremely irritable.
Just as our hair will likely turn grey and wrinkles will probably adorn our faces, as we age many of us can expect to encounter sleep changes.
These sleep and aging changes can result in waking up throughout the night, becoming sleepy earlier, and awakening earlier than we used to.
Sleep and Aging Statistics
As many as 50 percent of seniors experience some sort of sleep disturbance as they embark on their golden years. And according to the National Institute of Aging, a good number of seniors are not getting enough sleep. One of the reasons that many seniors are sleep deprived is in their trouble in falling asleep. More than a third of women and 13 percent of men reported taking more than an half an hour (30 minutes) to fall asleep (sleep latency), according to a study the institute cited.
Insomnia can be a real dream killer, and it’s a problem that plagues far more people than you realize. According to the National Institute of Health: “A general consensus has developed from population-based studies that approximately 30% of a variety of adult samples drawn from different countries report one or more of the symptoms of insomnia: difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early, and in some cases, nonrestorative or poor quality of sleep.”
What this means is that insomnia is a condition that crosses all borders of race, religion, location, health, and wealth. It impacts people across the board and around the world.
Most people are surprised to learn night terrors — or often called sleep terrors — impact a surprising number of adults. While the condition is most commonly associated with children between the ages of three and twelve, it is also known to affect adults. The exact causes of night terrors are relatively unknown, though adults that experience them often find that there is a genetic predisposition to do so. Sometimes they are attributed to post traumatic stress — especially when night terrors impact soldiers coming home from war and victims of violence. According to the Mayo Clinic, most night terrors in children will cease by the time the child is in his or her adolescence.
Has your child ever had an episode during sleep that included intense crying, kicking, thrashing, sweating, breathing quickly, rapidly beating heart rate, screaming loudly, getting out of bed and running throughout the house, being difficult to waken, or experiencing a profound fear? If so, your child probably had a night terror, also referred to as a sleep terror.
Who Experiences Night Terrors?
Up to 6 percent of children have a night terror at one time or another, according to WebMD. Children between the ages of three to 12 years are the most likely to get them. Although night terrors in adults are also an undesired sleep disorder, they occur in a far less percentage in adults than children. Fortunately, most children outgrow their night terrors by the time they reach their teens. If you’re a parent of a child who has night terrors, you should know that in most cases, night terrors in children aren’t a cause for a concern, albeit scary to witness.
When was the last time you were too excited to sleep? Was it over an important job interview? How about an upcoming vacation? This priceless Disney commercial sums it up for many people.
While many people associate this sense of excitement preventing sleep with the exuberance of the young, it can be a real downer the next day when adults are the ones who are too excited to sleep the night before. What can you do to get the sleep you need before exciting events, so that you’re not dealing with the fog of sleep deprivation rather than enjoying the event you were so excited about the night before?
Keep to Your Normal Nighttime Routine
What this means is that the packing and plans need to be finished well ahead of time, so you’re not rushing around trying to pick out the right interview power suit or pack all your vacation toiletries long after you should have been in bed in the first place. Keeping to your normal routine signals the brain that it’s time to shut down and prepare the body for sleep.
For one Pittsburgh surburbia teen, Sleeping Beauty isn’t just Walt Disney movie or fairy tale book. For Nicole Delien, Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), sometimes referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, is more like a nightmare of wondering when the next sleep episode is going to strike and worrying about how much of her life she’ll miss out on the next time it does.
According to a recent interview on CBS, Nicole’s longest sleeping episode lasted from Thanksgiving into January, 64 days to be exact. The only time she would waken during these sleep cycles was in a sort of sleep-like state to eat and then she would return to sleep.
What is Sleeping Beauty Syndrome?
KLS is an extremely rare neurological condition that only affects about 1,000 people around the world according to this Huffington Post article. It’s a severe form of primary hypersomnia that happens to be an extremely difficult condition for physicians to diagnose. Part of the difficulty is that it is such a rare condition. For Nicole, the diagnosis took nearly 25 months to complete. Before the final diagnosis was made, doctors considered everything from a severe virus to epilepsy, and even questioned whether or not she was simply faking an illness in order to gain attention.
With the strangest hurricane / blizzard / storm, dubbed “Frankenstorm” taking the east coast by surprise this Halloween, it’s only fitting to discuss how to sleep through a big storm. While rain alone can be a soothing way to get to sleep at night on your latex foam mattress, usually thunder, lightning and everything frightening can be quite a disturbance. These tips can be helpful not only for you, but for your little ones who may be even more afraid of a little weather disturbance than you.
While we’ve all seen too many TV specials on strange sleep disorders that seem completely and totally outrageous, have you ever wondered what the most common sleep disorders among adults are these days? The answer to this question may surprise you, since you were probably unaware that some of the issues are considered disorders.