The three most common sleep problems and how to avoid them
Good sleep is essential for keeping the body in an optimal state of well-being and good physical, mental and emotional health.
The anxiety, uncertainty and fear caused by the health crisis have led to an increase in sleep disorders, which has a very negative impact on general health. “On the one hand, we wake up exhausted, with no strength or energy, something that influences daily performance”, explains Vicente Mera, a specialist in Sleep Medicine at SHA Wellness Clinic. “On the other hand, it causes a breakdown of all cognitive functions, including memory, calculation, creativity and spatial vision, makes us more irritable and short-tempered and can even affect our personality and social relationships. And finally, it makes us age prematurely, since it’s been shown that people who sleep less have shorter telomeres (the ends of chromosomes considered biomarkers of ageing). But this loss of vitality and capacity is transitory and recovers when we get good sleep again. For example, if you travel a lot during a certain time of the year, you are likely to sleep more poorly. The good news is that sleep is a habit and, as such, can be lost or worsened, but it can also be regained. Ideally you should sleep 50 hours a week, at the very least 35 hours, and sleeping more than that isn’t a good idea either. However, it is very important to note that sleep isn’t always synonymous with rest”.
There are many sleep disorders, but the doctor explains the three most common patterns:
-There are those who can’t sleep. These are the people who go to bed but don’t fall asleep and have the additional problem that they are aware of it, which makes them anxious.
-There are people who, because of excessive work or family responsibilities, are unable to sleep enough hours to get the rest they need to get a good night’s sleep.
-And there are those who, despite sleeping the recommended hours, do not get enough rest because they suffer from sleep apnoea. This group is the most at risk because they are unaware that they aren’t resting; they lie down, fall asleep and snore all night long. Snorers are often obese because being overweight is the main cause of sleep apnoea. The reason is that the fat in the neck compresses the throat and blocks the airway, so they do not breathe properly or get enough oxygen.
Do’s and don’ts for better sleep
Dr. Vicente Mera advises against the use of medication to help you fall asleep. “All hypnotics that aren’t natural alter the phases of sleep (light, deep, REM) and, while they increase the total number of hours of sleep, they fail to increase the number of hours of restful sleep, which are essential. The best option is to resort to natural measures and techniques, such as a healthy diet free of stimulants and alcohol, moderate and constant physical exercise, but never at night, a light dinner two hours before going to bed, and getting ready to sleep, always before midnight, with practices that help the body relax, such as meditation, yoga and conscious breathing. Moreover, it’s been shown that thinking about future obligations is the reason why many people can’t fall asleep. In fact, a very interesting study was conducted with volunteers, divided into two groups. Some were asked to write down, five minutes before going to bed, everything they had done during the day, while the others were asked to write down what they had to do the next day. The former fell asleep in 30 minutes, while the latter took only nine”.