Category : Sleep Science

Sleeping is an art or is it actually a science? For some, it’s neither, they just fall asleep every time; for others, it’s a struggle and they are desperate to learn about the science, art, math, or even the religion of sleep, so that they can rest well when they want, where they want!

Diagnosing Your Sleeping Position: How Do You Sleep?

How many sleeping positions do you know, rather and more importantly, what’s your dominant sleep position? Not to venture into the wealth of literature you’ve read on the topic at hand, but scientifically speaking, there are only just 3 sleep positions: Sleeping on your stomach, sleeping on you back, or sleeping on your side. Then begs the next question: what good does your reflexive sleep position do you?

 

Benefits of the different sleep positions

1. Sleeping on your Side:

This touted to be extremely beneficial for anyone with sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep loss and sleep impairment. How so? Scientific research has shown that you’ll easily catch more rest while sleeping on your side; and in this position you’re much less likely to experience sleep disruption. Aside from the nocturnal ones with sleep disorders, other groups of people for whom sleeping on the side is highly recommended include people with:

  • Hip dislocation or hip pain
  • Weak joints and painful joints (inflamed joints)
  • Backache and sore shoulders
  • Expectant women

 

www.publicdomainpictures.net_sleeping street

(Image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net)

It is appreciated that sleeping on your side alleviates the pressure and pain imposed on the body’s pressure points and aforementioned key common body complaints. Side-sleeping does not even necessitate the use of a pillow or to use your lower arm as a pillow: this is because your neck will be naturally supported while your lower shoulder is completely hunched (your neck tends to obey gravity by reflexively deviating to grounding).

 

www.telegraph.co.uk Untitled-1_2372461b

(Image courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk)

Sleeping on your side can be enacted in several variations of the position, but you’re sure to be most comfortable with your knees curled up towards your chest area while lying on your side. There may be a minor traction formed in the lower back area (about the cervical spine).

 

2. Sleeping on your Back:

Otherwise called the Supine sleeping position, lying on your back has been known to be counterproductive to sleep by inducing :

  • Phases of intermittent sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation due to sleep loss and sleep disruption – causing an overall lower quality of sleep due to the impact on the normal sleep-cycle
  • Agitation of the sleeper leading to restlessness – the supine sleeper may wake up feeling sore or tired especially in the shoulders and back area

Not to rule out sleeping on the back.. A recommended remedy to counter the potential risks of the supine position is by anchoring the knees so that they’re a little elevated; and this could be by placing a rolled towel or soft pillow right beneath the knees. This should naturally align the body, inclining the body’s spine to its natural curvature.

 

en.wikipedia.org_sleeping supine and prone

(Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

3. Sleeping on your Stomach:

So far this may very well be the least favored of the aforementioned sleeping positions, lying on your stomach, also known as the Prone sleeping position. Sleeping prone is not recommended by medical professionals, more so sleep experts…They warn that sleeping on the stomach poses the following risks:
Prone sleepers experience constant tossing and turning in bed in a bid to settle in a comfortable sleeping position

  • Has been reported to promote restlessness
  • Sleeping on your tummy may lead to sore upper shoulders and neck pain
  • It leads to strain and tension in the lower back are
  • It causes discomfort and compression of your precious internal organ
  • Is generally strenuous on your neck and spine

Persons suffering from sleeping disorders are altogether advised against the Prone-position which only further complicates their sleeping disturbances.

deviantart.com sleepy

(Image courtesy of DeviantArt.com)

Nonetheless, the prone sleeper is advised to keep most complications at bay by simply doing without a pillow, or, if absolutely necessary, to get by with a very soft pillow. The cushioning of a pillow is deemed unnecessary in this sleeping position so as to avoid having the sleeper’s neck anchored in awkward uncomfortable angles relative to the spine. On our review of the best memory foam mattress brands, we recommend firm mattresses for stomach sleepers.

(Video courtesy of: Yahoo.com)

Consensus on Most Favorable Sleeping Position

There is to no surprise, a faction of sleep scientists who insist that sleeping on the back (Supine-position) is actually the most recommended way to sleep. Perhaps this has a lot to do with how parents are advised to lay their infant babies in supine positioning, or why inpatients admitted in hospital wards are made to lie down this way by default on their hospital beds. Supporting supine as the healthiest sleeping position is a number of reasons advocating sleeping on your back:

  • The supine position posited to promote optimal blood flow to the brain and eliminates the risk of congestion
  • Facilitates for easier breathing eliminating the risk of suffocation or obstructed breathing obstruction

en.wikipedia.org_Sleeping_Supine

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The ultimate supine sleeping position is specified as lying on your back with your head inclined with an elevation of about 10 – 30% for optimal comfort and rest. Case in point, for instance, is lying in a hammock… Even in historical native tradition, the default lying position was inevitably lying on the back in supine position, with that elevation for the natural curvature of the spine — as opposed to lying down on flat level spaces.

 

Practical Approach to Supine Sleeping Position

It may take a while before you can literally train yourself into a sleeping position that is different from the sleeping posture you naturally and automatically take on when you fall asleep.

 

www.dummies.com 443180.image0

(Image courtesy of: Dummies.com)

To enact the proper and supposedly healthiest sleeping position, consider grabbing a couple of pillows, a mattress foam wedge, using block chips to raise the bed at the headboard side, or alternatively using an adjustable bed instead. Ideally, you should have both the head area and leg area elevated, as in an adjustable bed, but only to an optimal comfortable positioning. The wedge foam will go under the leg area to take care of the slight inclination of the legs. Your resultant sleeping position will be almost akin to resting on a reclining chair while leaning your back. It shouldn’t feel unnatural or strained but rather, relaxing, accommodating to the shoulders and back, aligning with the spine, and just right for perfect slumber.

 

 

Sleep Personalities: What Does Your Sleeping Position Say About You?

You didn’t know what was ailing your aching back and sore joints until you read about the diagnostics of sleeping positions–more importantly, the diagnosis of your own typically default sleep posture. Now you’re just about to find out how your sleeping position speaks volumes about you, and that one only needs to watch you sleeping to figure out the kind of a person you really are during waking hours.

 

How many sleeping positions are there?

First things first, how about going through the sleeping positions and finding out how many ways you could “pose in slumber”…that is, how many different sleeping positions Classifications vary, and some consider alternative complexities like sleeping positions for couples, the physically challenged; or by sleeping space: sleeping positions in a train/vehicle, in a small space, on a hard surface, just to dart a few examples.

One classification, the one used here is based on a scientific study that assessed how test subjects slept and whether their sleeping positions had any indications to their personality traits.

Here 6 sleeping positions are analyzed accordingly with research study results:

 

www.flatseats.com sleep-types

(Image courtesy of flatseats.com )

1. Fetus sleeping position

In the study, a great number of test subjects were found to sleep in the fetal position, precisely, 41% of the study group. The Fetal sleeping position typically entails sleeping in a curled up fashion just like a fetus in the pregnant mother’s womb.
Fetal sleepers are usually women among whom the prevalence is twice more probable and even favorable especially when they are pregnant (it is also the ideal sleeping position for expectant women).

 

www.thesun.co.uk 1447005.main_image

(Image courtesy of www.thesun.co.uk)

Variations to the Fetus sleeping position are:

1.1.   Full-Fetal sleeping position

Here the sleeper simply sleeps completely hunched up exactly like a curled up fetus in the womb.Fetal sleepers sleep on their sides, all curled up, knees very close to the chest, while the head is inclined forward.

Full-Fetal Personality Profile:

Full-fetal sleepers are said to be extremely emotional and sensitive beings, and therefore have intense, highly-charged relationships that are personal and one-to-one. Another interesting observation that was made is that women who are naturally inclined to sleeping in the full-fetal sleeping position have great potential to experience multiple orgasms during sexual intercourse.

www.telegraph.co.uk best-sleeping-posi_3321371b

(Image courtesy of: Telegraph.co.uk)

1.2.   Semi-Fetal sleeping position

The semi-fetal position may very well be the most prevalent sleeping position of all with the majority of people naturally falling asleep while in this position. Sleep experts also vouch for the semi-fetal sleeping position as the ideal and optimal positioning. It entails sleeping on your side while your knees are slightly hunched up towards the belly; and one arm may be stretched out above your head while the other arm comfortably rests above the other and cradling your head in a suitable angle.

Semi-Fetal Personality Profile:

Semi-fetal sleepers are seen to be very compromising and even have a conciliatory nature. They are peacable, pose no threats, and also seen to be non-shakers.

 

modernhealthmonk.com Proper-Fetal-Position

(Image courtesy of: modernhealthmonk.com)

Fetal Position General Personality Profile:

Fetal sleepers are touted to have a tough outer personality but are softies and very sensitive, even shy. They are however very personable and can easily warm up to others.

 

2.  Soldier sleeping position

The Soldier position entails lying on the back with one’s arms comfortably positioned beside the lying body. About 8% of the study subjects were found to sleep in this position. It is also noted that this position tends to present higher chances of snoring and this is because of the supine sleep position (lying on the back). While snoring may not necessarily cause sleep loss or sleep deprivation, it may lower the quality of sleep so that the Soldier sleeper is not well/fully rested when they wake up.

Soldier Position Personality Profile:

Soldier sleepers are considered to be less outwardly and are more internal characters, having a cool-calm-collected personality, without much fuss. Although a regular platform bed would work just fine, the Leggett and Prodigy 2.0, one of the best adjustable bed models of 2017, can be highly recommended for soldier personality sleepers.

www.thesun.co.uk 1447008.main_image

(Image courtesy of www.thesun.co.uk)

3.  Log sleeping position

Turns out sleeping like a log is not just a metaphorical expression… In fact Log sleepers accounted for 15% of the test subjects. It entails lying on the side while both your arms are also rested down as shown in the illustration.

Log Position Personality Profile:

Sleeping like a log implies that you are a sociable person that’s easy-going and one who trusts others with the tendency of gullibility.

www.thesun.co.uk 1447003.main_image

(Image courtesy of www.thesun.co.uk)

4.  Starfish sleeping position

The Starfish position is simply the Supine sleeping position (lying on the back) but with one’s arms “flinging up” just about the pillow or near the head. Some 5% of the test subjects were found to sleep in this way. Just like the Soldier sleeping position, the Starfish position also poses the risk of snoring while asleep due to the inclination when lying on your back. This further implies that the Starfish sleeper may not catch sufficient rest thus a good night’s sleep may become a constant desire due to restlessness.

Starfish Position Personality Profile:

Starfish sleepers are nice to talk to as they are good listeners. You shouldn’t have trouble starting a conversation with them or asking for assistance as they are also usually willing to help out.

www.thesun.co.uk 1447006.main_image

(Image courtesy of www.thesun.co.uk)

5.  Freefall sleeping position

To lie in freefall is simply an enactment of the Prone sleeping position, that is: Lying on the stomach, the head is turned over to either side, with one’s arms tucked underneath or snugly hugging a pillow. About 7% of the participants were found to sleep in freefall position.

Freefall Position Personality Profile:

Freefall sleepers have a extrovert personality, they are outgoing and can be brash. They also don’t take criticism too nicely and may be unnerved by it.

www.thesun.co.uk 1447007.main_image

(Image courtesy of www.thesun.co.uk)

6.   Yearner sleeping position

The Yearner sleeper lies on their side with their arms outstretched (as if beckoning with the arms or “yearning”). Study subjects who slept in this position were 13% of the test group.

 

Yearner Position Personality Profile:

Yearner sleepers have the tendency to be open-minded yet cynical. They can be obstinate and may harbor suspicions; they are rather rigid once a decision is made they cannot change their minds.

www.thesun.co.uk 1447004.main_image

(Image courtesy of www.thesun.co.uk)

The Science of Sleep – Know What Defines Your Sleep

How can you tell if you’re sleeping enough? And are you suffering from Fatigue, or Sleepiness? And what is the difference, if any? Fatigue or extreme tiredness, exhaustion and weariness may be a secondary or direct consequence of sleep loss or sleep deprivation which is easily identified in constant sleepiness better known as Excessive Daytime Sleepiness.

(EEG Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

(EEG Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

Measuring Sleep Patterns

Physiological analysis of your sleep using EEG Electro-encephalography, EOG Electro-oculography, and EMG Electro-myography further depict your sleep as having two key individual stages:

  1. the NREM stage (Non Rapid Eye Movement) and,
  2. the REM stage (Rapid Eye Movement).

These two sleep stages operate cyclically in alternating turns; they are independently controlled, and therefore function independently as well.

 

REM NREM Image Courtesy of faculty.washington.edu

(REM NREM Image Courtesy of faculty.washington.edu )

Read our review of the Top 10 Best Adjustable Beds and see if that can help regularize your sleeping cycle.

In adult humans, their sleeping cycle exhibits 4 to 6 cycles, each of which averages anything from 110 to 90 minutes. NREM stage dominates about 75-80% of the total sleeping time and has 3 more sub-levels (N1, N2 and N3) , while the REM stage takes up about 20-25% of the total sleeping time and dominates the last third portion of the sleep (slow-wave sleep accounts for most of the first third of the sleeping time).

REM sleep in infant newborn babies takes up about 50% of the sleep. This however changes by the time they get to 6 years old when their REM sleep reduces to the normal average REM sleep of an adult which takes up about 25% of the sleep. It only takes about 3 months for a newborn baby to achieve the NREM/REM sleep cycling patterns of adult’s sleep.

Accordingly, the progression of sleep states goes from the wakeful state, to the onset of the sleeping state, which graduates to NREM sleep stage and finally the REM sleep stage.

 

( Sleep NREM and REM - Image Courtesy of www.habitot.org )

( Sleep NREM and REM – Image Courtesy of www.habitot.org )

 

The EEG is most instrumental in understanding sleep disorders. EEG also helps in observing and analyzing the two main stages of sleep, NREM and REM, nonetheless, the EMG and EOG are equally important in sleep analysis. Some of the key observations made include:

 

( EEG of NREM sleep and REM sleep - Image Courtesy of cnx.org )

( EEG of NREM sleep and REM sleep – Image Courtesy of cnx.org )

 

(For the REM – Rapid Eye Movement stage)

  • REM sleep consists of rapid rhythms, rapid EEG activity at low voltage
  • REM brainwaves are Theta waves,
  • REM waves have a saw-tooth plotting
  • REM bears rapid eye movements that are multi-directional
  • REM indicates diminished muscle activity within the chin area via an EMG
  • REM presents phased vacillation in the cardiac activity and blood pressure
  • REM features phased tongue motions
  • REM elicits irregular rates of respiration
  • REM sleep is absent of muscle tone contractions
  • REM sleep also highlights even lower responsiveness to external stimulation
( Sleep Spindles and K-Complexes Image Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org )

( Sleep Spindles and K-Complexes Image Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org )

(For the NREM – None Rapid Eye Movement stage)

  • NREM is represented by progression into a state of diminished responsiveness to external or environmental stimuli;
  • NREM is characterized by slow movements of the eyes (unlike REM which has rapid eye movements)
  • NREM shows via EEG slow brainwave activity
  • NREM plotting shows waveforms with K complexes and spindles
  • NREM typically bears minimal muscle contractions and movements
(EEG of REM sleep and NREM sleep - Image Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)

(EEG of REM sleep and NREM sleep – Image Courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org)

 

Your Sleep Requirements by Age

The amount of sleep required varies progressively with age, from the fetus, to the infant, early childhood to teenage years and finally adulthood and senior years. Sleep requirements also depend on the growth, development and maturation state of the CNS (Central Nervous System). Certain other factors are bound to affect the changes in sleep patterns and these include: environmental aspects, neurological factors, genetic background, and any other co-morbid medical disorders of the neurological system and other body systems.

 

( Sleep Requirements - Image Courtesy of academic.pgcc.edu )

( Sleep Requirements – Image Courtesy of academic.pgcc.edu )

The bottom line remains: That one’s sleep patterns and sleeping requirements do change rather drastically from their infant years to the latter time in older age.

In newborn babies, the sleeping patterns are found to be polyphasic (meaning they need several sessions of sleeping time) whereby infants require at good 16 hours of sleeping time each day. However, this gradually decreases to about 11 hours of sleep per day as they grow older at around 3 to 5 years old. By the time they get to the pre-pubertal years of 9 to 10 years old, they only require about 10 hours of sleep per day.

Once they’ve grown into adulthood, the average requirement for adults in sleeping time is about 7 to 8 hours of sleep for a night’s sleep. Sleep in adults is monophasic meaning they only require one session of sleep (one phase, say overnight or daytime for night shift workers); this however later changes in the elderly whose sleep patterns are biphasic (which means two separate sleeping sessions, say the main sleeping time at night, plus an afternoon siesta), just like in infant babies and pre-schoolers who require biphasic sleeping sessions.

 

Circadian Rhythm of Sleep-Wake Patterns

The primary role of the Circadian Rhythm is to keep the physiological, behavioral and humoral body systems coordinated so as to modulate the sleep-wake patterns. Notably, there are two distinct and opposite components:

1. The homeostatic desire to sleep
2. The circadian rhythm of arousal

( Sleep Urge and Circadian Rhythm - Image Courtesy of rebrn.com )

( Sleep Urge and Circadian Rhythm – Image Courtesy of rebrn.com )

 

To distinguish these two key components:
>> In the precedence homeostatic drive, the person experiences an increased need for sleep (a propensity or inclination to sleep) which is indicated by sleepiness; it comes after a prolonged period of being in the wakeful state.

>> In the precedence of the circadian rhythm, the person experiences alternations in the alertness of their physiological processes and this affects various aspects of their sleepiness or need for sleep (including the duration of sleep, timing of sleep, among other factors); these changes are experienced as they occur depending on the time of the day as they are cyclical alternations.

 

( SCN - Image Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org )

( SCN – Image Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org )

 

When one wakes up in the morning after coming from deep sleep overnight, the body’s homeostatic desire for sleep is pretty much null; and the output of the SCN (Supra Chiasmatic Nuclei) is low. This may be seen by recording the firing rates of the intra-cerebral neurons.

 

( Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Homeostasis - Image Courtesy of www.medscape.org )

( Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Homeostasis – Image Courtesy of  www.medscape.org )

 

Gradually, with the progression of the day (during daytime), the homeostatic desire for sleep is seen to gain with time; and this is further counteracted by an increased output of the SCN. Towards the onset of the dusk as the day ends, the output of the SCN is however seen to diminish as the homeostatic desire which is at its peak leads to the onset of the sleeping state.

Early at dawn (during daybreak), the homeostatic desire for sleep is little to none, while the circadian rhythm is seen to take charge causing arousal that triggers one to wake up, and thus beckoning the onset of a wakeful state.

 

 

(Sleep and Sleeping Disorders - Image Courtesy of en.paperblog.com )

Sleep Disorders – Know What’s Killing Your Sleep

 

You may have noticed that you’re more likely to feel sleepy at certain times of the day… Scientifically, there are two time periods when you’re very likely to feel sleepy and thus most vulnerable to falling asleep, and they are: the period from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM; and the period from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. It is further noted that the earlier time capsule in the early morning hours (2:00 – 6:00 AM) bears a much stronger desire to sleep than the latter one in the afternoon.

 

( Drowsy Driving Graph - Image Courtesy of www.cdc.gov )

( Drowsy Driving Graph – Image Courtesy of www.cdc.gov )

 

It therefore comes as no surprise that the greatest incidence of accidents due to sleepiness are found to occur at this very same time period in the early morning hours.

 

( Time of Road Accident Occurrence - Drowsy Driving - Image Courtesy of www.nhtsa.gov )

( Time of Road Accident Occurrence – Drowsy Driving – Image Courtesy of www.nhtsa.gov )

READ: What’s the best memory foam mattress type to prevent sleep disorders?

Biological Factors Affecting Your Sleep

Aside from the homeostatic condition and circadian rhythm factors that contribute to sleep patterns in humans, certain other factors like proteins (called Cytokines, produced by Leukocytes) among other cells that act as mediators in the intra-cerebral cells also have a key role in the regulation of both sleep and immunity. Particularly, the Cytokines have a great impact on the pathogenesis and incidence of EDSExcessive Daytime Sleepiness which is associated with sleep deprivation and various sleep disorders.

 

Further, there are certain sleep enhancing substances otherwise known as sleep factors that promote sleep. After long periods of being in the wakeful state, or when the person is suffering from illness due to inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, HIV) or infection (viral, bacterial), the concentration of these sleep factors increases markedly thus inducing sleep.

( Cytokines and Sleep Loss - Image Courtesy of www.researchgate.net )

( Cytokines and Sleep Loss – Image Courtesy of www.researchgate.net )

What is the Function of Sleep?

The true function of sleep is seen to be one of the greatest mysteries in science. Nonetheless, there’s no doubting the essential necessity of sleep given that sleep deprivation has been shown to result in dire consequences in both the long-term and short-term. Sleep deprivation typically results from modern lifestyles as well as sleeping disorders such as Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, neurological, psychiatric and psychological (personality) disorders, and may also be a side-effect of medication.

(Sleep Deprivation Image Courtesy of - www.lifehack.org )

(Sleep Deprivation Image Courtesy of – www.lifehack.org )

 

Short-term effects of sleep deprivation:

  • Low attention span
  • Diminished concentration
  • Lowered quality of life
  • Reduced productivity
  • Accidents and mishaps on the road, at home and other environs
  • Absenteeism from work or school

Long-term effects of sleep deprivation:

  • Obesity
  • Impaired memory
  • Depression
  • Cardiac disease (coronary artery disease, heart failure)
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes (especially Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus)
  • Increased mortality and morbidity (due to accidents and sleep-related chronic diseases)

 

( Sleep Deprivation - Image Courtesy of healthpromotion.caltech.edu )

( Sleep Deprivation – Image Courtesy of healthpromotion.caltech.edu )

 

Undebatable is the fact that quality sleep is known to be conservative and restorative to one’s health, adaptive to one’s ideal physiological state, consolidating to one’s memory and cognitive functioning, thermoregulative in the body temperature. For instance, scientific studies have confirmed that adequate sleep before study and learning is vital to memory consolidation.

 

Prevalence of Sleep Complaints in the US population

In the final report from the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research, it was shown that over 40 million citizens of the US actually suffer from chronic sleep disorders that affect their sleep and wakeful states; the same is seen across the globe as prevalence of sleep complaints is very rampant especially with modern lifestyles and current demands. It was shown that about 35% of the US population has trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, or waking up early in the morning, or experience non-restorative sleep. For many of them (about 10%) the insomnia persists to affect their normal functioning during the day; while millions others (3-4%) suffer from Sleep Apnea. Every 1 in 5 adults is shown to complain of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS).

 

( Sleep Deprivation - Image Courtesy www.bbc.com )

( Sleep Deprivation – Image Courtesy www.bbc.com )

 

There were 4 main sleep-related complaints that people mostly seek medical attention for, namely:

  1. Insomnia
  2. EDS – Excessive Daytime Somnolence
  3. Inability to fall asleep
  4. Abnormal behavior and movement during sleep

 

Clinical Evaluation of your Sleeping Disorder

When you seek medical attention for your suspected sleeping disorder, several factors will be assessed even before lab tests can be carried out; you will first undergo an analysis of your medical history, as well as a physical examination of your body.

Your medical history evaluation will be as detailed as possible, assessing factors such as: your sleeping habits and patterns; medical history of any medication previously or currently being taken; any underlying neurological, psychological and psychiatric disorders; whether one is using any drugs and substances like alcohol; the family history – any genetic disorders (cardiovascular, endocrinological, respiratory, neurological) and general family background.

The medical assessment of your sleeping condition will not just focus on the symptoms presented in the tight time frame at the onset of sleep or the duration of your sleeping phase, but rather, an entire analysis of the 24 hours in your day will be under the microscope. Your sleeping pattern will be evaluated based on: time of sleep onset, frequency of sleep, type of symptoms presented and at what time.

 

( Pediatric PSG - Image Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org )

( Pediatric PSG Testing – Image Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org )

 

Some of the common symptoms typically assessed occur in the early evening (at night), or at various stages of sleep and they include:

  • RLS – Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Leg jerking during the night
  • RBD – REM Behavior Disorder
  • Abnormal NREM behavior and movements
  • Transition disorders of the Sleep-Wake cycle
  • Arousal disorders
  • Snoring
  • Repetitive awakening (sleep disruption)
  • Breathing disorders during one’s sleep (e.g. Breathing cessation while asleep)
  • Constant inevitable desire to fall asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep walking
  • Lab Testing in Diagnosing Sleep Disorders

 

After the extensive evaluation of the patient’s medical history and their physical examination, laboratory testing follows suit. The ab testing should entail a build up of the primary sleeping condition that leads up to other secondary symptoms and conditions which are co-morbid to the sleep disorder.

There are 2 key lab tests in analyzing and testing a sleep disorder, and they are:

  • PSG – Polysomnography
  • MSLT – Multiple Sleep Latency Test

 

( PSG Test Image Courtesy of - www.chicagosleepapneasnoring.com )

( PSG Test Image Courtesy of – www.chicagosleepapneasnoring.com )

 

The PSG Test concurrently assesses several physiological aspects including: airflow in the nose, airflow in the mouth, repiratory (breathing) effort), saturation of oxygen, positioning of the body, snore analysis, EEG (Electro-Encephalography), EMG (Electro-Myography), EOG (Electro-Oculography), EKG (Electro-Cardiography).

 

(MSLT Image Courtesy of - www.medscape.org )

(MSLT Image Courtesy of – www.medscape.org )

 

Contrary to common assumptions, sleep analysis of sleep disorders is not only relevant and dynamic, but also complicated yet necessary — especially considering how important sufficient restful sleep is to your overall well-being.

 

 

Sleeping Disorders

Your Sleep and Sleeping Disorders

 

Sleep disorders may be more prevalent than how much is understood of them… With many people all over the world suffering in silence, unaware that they are actually victims of one or more of the various sleeping disorders as discussed here, it only becomes a concern when other health concerns arise to which more attention is given.

 

( Sleep-Wake Disorders - Image Courtesy of www.nationalregister.org )

( Sleep-Wake Disorders – Image Courtesy of www.nationalregister.org )

 

In classifying sleep disorders, there are 4 key sleeping complaints that commonly arise and these are:

  • Inability to Fall Asleep – Do you have trouble falling asleep when you need to sleep?
  • Insomnia – Are you sleep deprived and barely ever have a good night’s sleep?
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness – Do you feel drowsy and sleepy during the day even though you slept at night?
  • Sleep Behavior – Do you elicit sleep mannerisms like talking in your sleep, or sleep walking?

 

( Image Courtesy of www.forbes.com )

( Image Courtesy of www.forbes.com )

What Sleep Means…

When you fall asleep, there are measurable physiological attributes and changes that do occur, and these are visible in the electrical signals and brainwave patterns acquired during your sleep state.

The sleeping state presents itself behaviorally and physiologically and is therefore analyzed accordingly…

( Sleep in Animals - Image Courtesy of hayashi.wpi-iiis.tsukuba.ac.jp )

( Sleep in Animals – Image Courtesy of hayashi.wpi-iiis.tsukuba.ac.jp )

 

Behavioral characteristics of the Sleep State

  • Immobility – lack of movement or slight movement
  • Slowed eye movements
  • Diminished cognitive functioning
  • Characteristic sleep positions
  • Extended reaction time
  • Little to no response to environmental stimuli (external arousal)
  • Increased threshold of arousal
  • State of unconsciousness that is reversible

 

Circadian sleep disorder

( Image courtesy of chronobiology.com )

 

Physiological characteristics of the Sleep State

Indicators of the physiological aspects of sleep are analyzed using:

  • EEG – Electro-encephalography
  • EOG – Electro-oculography
  • EMG – Electro-myography

 

( Sleep Monitoring Tests - EEG - EOG - EMG - Image Courtesy of www.ima.org.il )

( Sleep Monitoring Tests – EEG – EOG – EMG – Image Courtesy of www.ima.org.il )

 

Diagnosing your sleep disorder

However easy it is to pass up a sleep disorder as an isolated sneeze in summer, the assessment and diagnosis of the sleeping disorder requires deeper and conclusive assessment of the root cause. It typically entails a thorough detailing of one’s family history with regards to health and medical welfare, psychological and psychiatric conditions, mental and neurological disorders, history of drug and substance abuse.

 

( Short Sleep Impact on Daily Life Activities and Performance - Image Courtesy of www.cdc.gov )


   ( Short Sleep Impact on Daily Life Activities and Performance – Image Courtesy of www.cdc.gov )

The rule of thumb in diagnosing sleep disorders is:

  • First and foremost, to identify the root cause of the sleep impairment and identifying if it is a symptom of yet another underlying condition
  • Then, follow up with treatment for the co-morbid health conditions associated with the sleep disorder

There are also a number of medical lab tests used in the investigation of sleep disorders, including, polysomnography (studied overnight), actigraphy, sleep latency (assessed multiple times), and assessing the maintenance of wakeful states.

 

Common Sleeping Disorders of the Modern Era

( Sleep Analysis Testing – Image courtesy of Wisegeek.com )

 

Where treatment the primary underlying medical condition does not prevail, treatment of the sleep disorder then takes precedence for the wellbeing of the patient. Usually, very little medical supervision and consultation will be necessary on the part of the sleep disturbed person once after the appropriate diagnosis has been made for their sleeping disorder. It is also highly recommended that you do see a Sleep Specialist if you suspect that you may be having a sleep condition that needs medical attention for a laser targeted approach to your sleep impairment.

Key pointers for medical practitioners in the assessment of sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy-Cataplexy Syndrome
  • Parasomnia (e.g. REM Behaviour Disorder, Partial Arousal Disorder, etc)
  • Sleep Disorders of the Circadian Rhythm (e.g. Work shift disorders, Jet lag, etc.)