- Why sleep is considered to make you ill
- What has already been the subject of research in sleep science
- How sleep disorders become apparent
Almost 35% of the Austrian population suffers from sleep disorders – roughly one in four Austrians. The range is wide and stretches from falling asleep to sleep apnoea.
What we already know about sleep disorders
Around 100 different forms of sleep disorders are known in sleep science. There are many reasons for night-time sleep problems. Sleep disorders usually occur in connection with physical illnesses, stress or due to direct sleeping illnesses, for example sleep apnoea or snoring. It is also known that women are mostly twice as likely to experience emotionally induced problems with falling and staying asleep as men. This also applies to restless legs disease, which can also lead to sleep disorders. Men, however, are more likely to suffer from sleep apnoea. While only 2% of those affected are female, almost 10% of men suffer from breathing interruptions at night. Also, twice as many men as women snore. Sleep-related breathing disorders often occur from the age of 60.
What are the causes and symptoms?
The causes can be physical as well as psychological. Direct sleeping disorders such as sleep apnoea, narcolepsy or snoring have a physical origin. Changes in brain processes and weak muscles in the throat are responsible for this. Physical diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, but also rheumatism can have a negative impact on sleep quality and lead to sleep problems. Anxiety disorders, depression, burnout and other mental illnesses are also triggers for sleep disorders. Just as jet lag, shift work, but also addiction problems (drugs, alcohol, medication) can cause sleep disorders.
What are the effects of sleep disorders?
Even just one night with less sleep can affect the next day. Anyone who has been confronted with poor sleep for a longer period of time knows about the physical and psychological effects. Increased daytime tiredness, reduced performance or an irritated mood can be the consequence. Even the brain, which uses the nightly sleep phases to process collected information, is no longer fully functional due to disturbed sleep. Not only the brain, but the whole body suffers from the lack of sleep. Important body functions, but also the immune system, are impaired. The risk of serious illnesses, for example cardiovascular complaints, increases.
However, too much sleep (narcolepsy) can also be dangerous. Sudden sleep attacks in everyday life can have a serious impact on those affected, and their environment. It is recommended to clarify this as quickly as possible in the sleep laboratory. Among other things, brain waves, muscle activity, eye movements, but also heart activity, pulse, respiratory movements and respiratory flow are measured. This objective data collection is supplemented by a subjective survey using questionnaires.