Neuroscience

Circadian Rhythms Syndrome

Sleep forms part of human’s biological need to rest. As a person sleeps, the various physiological processes of a human body figuratively are put into an apparent arrest and some parts of our system that were mostly exploited can be replenished for future use.

However, imagine a system so disrupted that our normal scheduling for sleeping and waking is totally altered. Some people tend to sleep early and wake up early in the morning and some cannot sleep early and as a consequence, wakes up late.

These and other sleep-related problems are manifestations of a malfunctioning biological circadian clock and characterize several forms of Circadian Rhythm Syndrome. Circadian activity is a unique 24-hour period or cycle in which our body is physically patterned.

24-hour vs. 25-hour cycle

Earth rotates around the sun in a 24-hour cycle, so as our body functions in this 24-hour time schedule. All living organisms subscribe to this cyclic resting and activity pattern so that their body may function in sync with the environment in which they live.

Although humans externally operate under a 24-hour environment, research found that our body clocks evidently works significantly different than what we see in the environment.

Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

Perhaps, one reason for unsuccessful treatment is due to patient’s attitude over the symptoms. Typical indications of the disease are ignored due to the symptoms unpredictable pattern of attack sometimes occurring during wakefulness or at night or in the middle of the sleep.

Symptoms usually last for days or weeks or usually progress to weeks and disappear for weeks or months. Pain eventually reappears with less intensity after a day or weeks and even for months.

These apparent incalculable occurrences of symptoms make treatment difficult to reconcile. More so, the disease may progress due to the inappropriate treatment applied as the symptoms are ignored.

Since causes remain unidentified, medical treatments are yet to be discovered. A couple of treatment is to relieve the symptoms and not specifically cure them.

Additional Findings

Restless sleep syndrome is usually confused with Periodic Limb Movement in Sleep Disorder (PLMD). Individuals affected by this disorder are identified with the same type of symptoms as in the case of RLS patients but the main difference is that, as the name suggest, it occurs only while asleep and is usually the main cause of insomnia in patients with sleep disorder.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a type of neurological condition which is characterized by painful leg muscles which continues unless they are drawn into physical action.

These distinctive symptoms are in some ways suggestive of motor and sensory malfunction in which uncontrollable urge to move is more prominent.

That means, as leg musculature are relaxed, the more frequent the occurrence of symptoms are. People with this disease feel an abnormally unpleasant feeling of muscle dragging which reduces in severity as the legs are physically maneuvered as in the case of walking or jogging.

It afflicts people of all ages and both genders. Given the current statistics, females and older individuals are apt to develop the symptoms.

Causes

Restless Legs Syndrome is of idiopathic type; meaning its exact cause and origin is not yet known. Currently, scientists are working on locating the part of the brain, which triggers the condition, and genetically identifying the gene which transmits such trait to other cells and other physiological and nutritional factors which activates the episodes of pain in the leg and foot region.

The conditions peculiar to this disease usually occur when the legs are in the resting state. Idleness triggers the symptoms by which this disease is known and manifests patients suffering from this ailment. Burning and creeping sensations are just some of the most common feeling. Collating all the symptoms, we can identify them as follows:

NS-RED Risk Factors

According to recent statistics, about three to nine people or about one to three percent of the total population are most likely to be affected by this disorder, with up to 15 percent of those who have eating disorders affected by night eating disorder.

Many of those affected by the syndrome diet (or at least try to) during the day, leaving them hungry and very weak to binge eating during the night when their control to achieve weight loss gets weakened by sleep. Some people have medical histories of drug abuse, alcoholism, and other sleep disorders such as restless legs, sleep apnea, and sleep walking. They often get tired upon waking up due to fragmented sleep. Many NS-RED cases seem to run along family lines.

How can you eat and be unable to remember doing so?

Actually, that could really happen. While research on this disorder is still not that comprehensive, there is a high probability that there are parts of the brain that are truly sleeping even though some parts stay wide awake. Also asleep are the parts that regulate your waking consciousness, so it is no wonder that you cannot remember any memories of gorging on food on the night before.

Night Eating Syndrome – NES

Has this happened to you?

You woke up one morning, and you found that there were wrappers of candy bar all over your kitchen. Incidentally, your stomach aches and you see that you had chocolate smudges all over your hands and face. Your parents or your husband tells you that you are up all night long eating, but surprisingly, you don’t recall that you did so. Your parents or your husband seemed serious telling you that you actually ate all those chocolates. Is there an inside joke?

Probably not. In fact, the symptoms show that you probably have a night eating syndrome.

Night eating syndrome, also known as sleep-related eating, is considered by medical doctors as a parasomnia. It is not a frequent sleepwalking type. People suffering from this disorder have experiences of recurrent eating episodes while asleep, without actually being aware that they are actually doing it. This nocturnal eating syndrome might happen most of the time that it would show significant gain in your weight. Although this disorder can affect people in all ages and sexes, the sleep-related eating affects young women more than men.

What is night eating disorder?

Sleep Disorders

Fuseli's Nightmare- Inspired by a Sleep Disorder?A sleep disorder (somnipathy) is a disorder in the sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders can interfere with mental and emotional function.

The most common sleep disorders include:

Bruxism: The sufferer involuntarily grinds his or her teeth while sleeping

Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS): a sleep disorder of circadian rhythm

Insomnia
: Inability to fall asleep and/or remain asleep for a reasonable amount of time.

Jet lag or desynchronosis: Temporary condition resulting in out of sync sleep patterns as a result of rapidly travelling across multiple time zones

Narcolepsy: The condition of falling asleep spontaneously and unwillfully

Night terror or Pavor nocturnus or sleep terror disorder: abrupt awakening from sleep with behavior consistent with terror

Symptoms Indicating Insomnia

The experience of illness precipitates many stressful feelings and reactions like anxiety, anger, denial, shame, guilt, and uncertainty. The diagnostic tests, the medical treatment, the prognosis, the body changes, the reactions of family and friends, the experience of hospitalization, and the projected changes in life style—all take part in a person’s adaptation to the new situation.

No wonder why there are certain conditions that are not treated immediately because most people who experience them are ashamed of admitting them or are not the least aware that they have them.

Take for example sleeping disorders. A lot of people are not aware that such conditions exist. They think that simple matters that occur during their sleep are just the effects of other factors such as physical stress, fatigue, etc.

While these factors may contribute to the conditions of sleeping disorders, there are still other reasons that trigger these alarming conditions. What people don’t know is that there are symptoms that may seem too ordinary to get worried but are, in reality, already signs of serious conditions or a greater risk in sleeping disorder.

Depression and Insomnia – The Interrelationship

Since insomnia is just a symptom of an underlying disease or an imbalance, evaluating the cause of insomnia is very important before prescribing any medication.

Depression is the most common cause of chronic insomnia, especially in the elderly.

A study shows that depressed elderly patients, if they suffer from insomnia, have a tendency to be depressed for over a year.

Another study shows that even without a history of depression, if an elderly patient suffers from insomnia, they have a high risk of being depressed. This is usually observed in women.

It has been proven that insomnia can affect ones’ lifestyle negatively. Once this happens, the person starts to worry. Worrying, then causes depression.

Depression is an emotional condition characterized by sadness or misery. Although many have experienced this at one time, clinical depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, anger or frustration affect daily life for an extended period of time.

Another interesting relationship between depression and disrupted sleep is that some medications used for depression can cause insomnia. This is because these medications are used to make the patient more energetic, that at times, these make the patient anxious.