The benefits for treating a sleep disorder can be more than just sleeping through the night. Many physical and emotional problems can also be reduced.
Basic Sleep Requirements
When a patient is treated for a sleep disorder, the treatment is selected based on what will be required to help the patient obtain the quantity and quality of sleep which they need to function in their everyday life.
Medical researchers tend to agree that the younger the individual the more sleep they require. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following amounts of daily sleep:
- Newborns - 16 to 18 hours
- Preschoolers - 10 to 12 hours
- School-aged and teens - At least nine hours
- Adults - 7 to 8 hours are required by most people; however, some people function very well on as few as five hours and some may require as many as ten hours a day.
The best quality of sleep is achieved when the person is able to relax, go to sleep quickly and sleep deeply without interruption. The level of the sleep will change from a starting point of a light sleep transitioning to a deep state of sleep. The deep stages of sleep are the most restorative.
Age and Sleep
As an individual gets older they lose some of their ability to get good quality sleep. They may sleep more lightly which will cause them to wake up more frequently than they did in their younger years. For example:
- A medical condition could include pain that causes the person to sleep less soundly or to wake up frequently.
- A medication can affect a person's sleeping patterns in several ways by:
- Helping them to get to sleep or keeping them from being able to sleep
- Alleviating discomfort to help them sleep
Once the medicine wears off, an older person may sleep less soundly or may awaken during the night.
Understanding the Benefits for Treating a Sleep Disorder
If you are not getting enough sleep your body is unable to function correctly. Getting treatment for a sleep disorder usually improves the ability to function. The specific benefits of treating a sleep disorder may vary based on the type of sleep disorder and the specific treatment.
Generally, when a sleep disorder is treated, the individual is better able to experience the full quantity and quality of sleep they require. This increase in sleep can result in:
- A more restorative sleep
- Feeling more awake with less daytime fatigue and drowsiness
- An improved mental well-being with less irritability, fewer mood swings and less depression
- Improved ability to concentrate
- Improved memory
- Fewer headaches
- Less occurrence of gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Fewer complications during surgery when lying on back under general anesthetic
- Reduced chance of misdiagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
The benefits for treating a sleep disorder vary based on the type of treatment used in different types of sleep disorders. For example:
- Chronic insomnia - According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people with insomnia can reduce the average time it takes to get to sleep from 68 minutes to 34 minutes with five sessions of behavioral therapy that focus on proper sleep technique.
- Sleep apnea - People with sleep apnea report that their quality of life returns after one year of using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
- Narcolepsy - Treatment with the drug Modafinil for six weeks has resulted in significant reductions in fatigue and significant energy improvements.
Whole New Person
When a person has gone for a long period of time without enough sleep, they may start to consider their reduced functioning as their "normal" state. Once they receive treatment for their sleep disorder and have had several weeks of healthy sleep, these same people often find new energy levels.Many express this new energy level by saying they feel like a "whole new person." With their increased energy they may decide to take on new life-changing activities which they had avoided previously due to feeling tired. These activities might include:
- Engaging in more activity in the late afternoon and evening
- Going back to school
- Becoming more involved in community activities
- Changing careers