Part 6: Disease Associated with Sleep

    Part 6: Disease Associated with Sleep

    To highlight the importance of sleep in your overall health, it is clear that sleep-related issues directly influence or even cause a large number of disorders, and affect almost every area of medicine. For instance, strokes and asthma attacks are shown to typically occur in larger numbers during the night and early morning. Most likely, this can be attributed to heart rate, hormonal changes and other characteristics attributed to sleep, or lack thereof. Sleep also affects certain types of epilepsy.


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    The REM sleep stage appears to assist in the prevention of seizures that originate in one part of the brain, and then spreads to other regions of the brain. Conversely, it has been shown that certain non-REM sleep stages such as the deep sleep stage may actually promote the spreading of such seizures. Sleep deprivation can also trigger seizures in people with certain types of epilepsy.

    Neurons that control our sleep interact directly with our immune systems. For instance, those who have suffered the flu can attest to the fact that infectious diseases make us feel drowsy. This most likely occurs because of cytokines, which are powerful sleep inducing chemicals present in our immune systems that are produced while fighting off an infection. Restful, effective sleep helps the body conserve energy, bolstering other resources that our immune system needs to launch an attack.

    It’s no coincidence that sleep issues occur in almost all people who suffer from mental disorders, including schizophrenia and depression. For example, those who suffer from depression frequently wake up in the early hours of the morning and are then unable to get back to sleep. The volume of sleep people get also strongly affects the symptoms associated with mental disorders.

    Sleep deprivation is even used as an effective treatment for people with some types of depression, but can actually cause depression in other people. In the extreme, sleep deprivation can cause psychotic paranoia as well as hallucinations in what are otherwise healthy people. Even routinely disrupted sleep can cause bouts of mania in people with manic depression (bipolar disorder).

    Sleeping issues have commonality links with a number of other disorders as well, including stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and head injuries. These sleeping issues could take place due to changes in the neurotransmitters and brain regions that control sleep, as well as from several drugs which are used to control symptoms of other disorders.

    With patients who are hospitalized, treatment schedules or hospital routines can also significantly disrupt sleep patterns. Once sleeping issues manifest, they tend to add to a person's health issues and cause frustration, confusion, or even depression. Patients who are not able to sleep effectively also tend to feel more pain, which also generally increases their requests for pain medication, which in turn can cause more sleep issues – a nasty cycle of ‘catch 22’.

    It’s clear that improved management of sleeping in people who have other disorders could significantly improve health and overall quality of life. If you feel this applies to you, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor. A simple sleep study can reveal many of these issues, and allow for effective treatment. In addition, make certain you have optimized your sleep environment so that it is comfortable, cool (never cold), dark and free of pets and other allergen producing elements.

    (Sources: American Sleep Association, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The National Institutes for Health and Bedbug.com)

    This informative series of sleep articles is brought to you by SecureSleep™, the bedding encasement specialists, insuring that you can go to sleep with the piece of mind knowing you are protected from bed bugs and allergens. SecureSleep™ promotes Sleep Hygiene and Health. We are proudly endorsed by the American Sleep Association who recommends using SecureSleep™ encasements, an effective anti-bed bug/dust mite mattress and pillow cover.

    Related Articles

    Part 1: Sleep Basics - Why Do We Need Sleep


    Part 2: How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep

    Part 3: What are the Benefits of Sleep

    Part 4: Importance of REM Stage Sleep and Dreaming

    Part 5: What are Circadian Rhythms

    Part 6: Disease Associated with Sleep (this article)

    Part 7: Sleep Disorders

    Part 8: Clean Sleep Environment