Many people experience mild sleep disorders from one time to another. They are, more often than not, caused by stress or environment factors. However, sleep is a crucial factor in our mental and physical wellbeing. After all, sleep deprivation is an ancient torture technique.

From insomnia to sleep walking, sleep issues can be incredibly distressing and a cause for genuine concern for many people. Those in all round good health usually sleep well. A lack of sleep or poor quality sleep will dramatically affect your mood, ability to concentrate and perform rudimentary tasks. 

There are a large number of sleep disorders, with some conditions being as dramatic as sleep paralysis, night terrors and narcolepsy. Two common conditions are insomnia and sleep walking.

Sleep Walking

You may think sleep walking is comical, but for many people it is a nightly danger. Some sleeper walkers have been known to walk out of windows, urinate in strange places and even, in extreme cases wake up in unfamiliar places. There was one reported case of a young person climbing a building site crane in her sleep, to be found the next morning by the crane driver asleep hundreds of feet in the air.    

Sleep walking is usually a symptom of extreme fatigue, burning the candle at both ends or intense emotional stress. A good way to fight sleep walking is a healthy diet and plenty of regular rigorous exercise such as running or swimming. 

Insomnia

Insomnia is indicative of depression, stress, anxiety or poor mental health. Insomnia does not just refer to an inability to fall asleep. It can also be characterised by continually waking up in the night, failing to get back to sleep if you do wake, shallow sleep (so that you feel exhausted when you do wake) and sleepiness and low energy during the day. 

A good way to counter insomnia is to assess your lifestyle. Often seemingly minimal factors such as lifestyle choices, excessive caffeine consumption, lack of exercise, medications or jet lag can be the cause. Adjusting your lifestyle accordingly can help. Confronting stress and learning techniques to relax can help. Meditation, massage, breathing exercises and yoga are all good techniques and practices that can help you to train your body how to relax.     

If you suffer a sleep disorder you need not immediately reach for the sleeping pills. It can help to monitor your sleep patterns. Keep a diary. This can be useful psychologically in helping you to feel that you are exercising control over a condition which can feel as though it is beyond your control.

You should monitor the length of your sleep, what time you fall asleep and wake, the quality of your sleep, your activities during waking periods, your diet, moods, exercise routine and any medications you are taking.  

Try to get into positive sleep patterns. This might involve going to sleep at the same time every night to help establish a routine your body clock can synchronise with.

Ensure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet. If these techniques fail to help call for GP Consultations or seek help from a specialist sleep clinic.