Insomnia is a disorder which has a great impact on sleep quality, as is needless to say. Around 10% of the world population suffers from it and up to 8 people out of 10 complain about sleep disorders associated with its three most significantly perceived dimensions: falling asleep, duration of sleep and sleep quality.
Night shift work and intercontinental travels are among the main causes of insomnia. Insomnia sufferers often have to deal with sudden changes in their sleep-wake hours. Additionally, stress and bad habits such as the intake of alcohol, smoking and a rule-free life style also seem to largely affect the quality of sleep.
Even if sleep disorders may already appear in teenage years, older adults are mainly affected by nocturnal awakenings and tiredness after waking up in the morning. The duration and frequency of awakenings is directly proportional to the years gone by as the body’s ability to produce melatonin, a sleep-stimulating hormone, is progressively reduced.
On the other hand, sleep paralysis is a less frequent disorder, although it has a highly incisive impact on the quality of life. Sufferers of this disorder hardly forget about it. It consists in waking up during the deepest phase of sleep, known as REM sleep (i.e. rapid eye movement).
This phase is distinguishable by rapid movement of the eyes under the effect of intense brain activity in connection to dreaming, while the muscle tone is low as a result of specific physiological signals output by the brain. If the subject becomes conscious in the middle of REM sleep, s/he can feel a temporary inability to move despite being awake.