Sleeping For Living!

By: Xiomara Abreu & Ashlyann Arana

Sleeping is one of the most important functions in every person’s life. Teenagers, mostly college students need between nine and nine-and-a-half hours of sleep each night. Yet surveys show that most teenagers get only six to seven hours. According to (an informative site about diseases), 20 percent of high schoolers say that they have fallen asleep in class.

Teens spend one-third of their day sleeping; meaning that by the age of 15, you will have spent about five years of your life asleep. That seems like a lot, but it is not wasted time. In fact, sleep is vital for a healthy body and mind.

During sleep the body makes a lot of vital functions. The cells get repaired, because sleep slows metabolism, heartbeat and breathing rate, which helps the body replenish after daily physical activity. The growth hormones in young adults are released. While you sleep, a hormone is released that aids the growth of bones, tissues and new red blood cells. The immune and nervous systems get stronger.

These functions are necessary to be healthy, so I you don’t get enough sleep your body won’t be at it top condition. Experiments have shown that rats that are forced to remain awake die in a little over two weeks, according to

Sleeping consist of three stages. The last one is the deep sleep, which is the one when the body and mind are completely relaxed. In this stage the person can really rest from the stresses of the day. “If you don’t get to that stage while sleeping is like you haven’t sleep at all,” said Hernán Mendez, coordinator of Promotion of Health Program at UPRM.

Threw out the years there have been many research for different illnesses.  In which scientists have studied the nature for particular disorders that had gain popularity among men and women, from children and teenagers to elderly. This bunch of illnesses is sleeping disorders.  Sleep problems are afflictions that could strike any age. A sleeping disorder is any condition that interrupts, disturbs, affects, disrupts, sleep.

More than half of Americans say they have trouble sleeping a few nights a week, and one in five feel fatigued almost every day.  These medical facts are alarming! (Source: University of Rochester Medical Center) The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that there are more than 80 known sleep disorders.

            There are many diagnosis of sleeping disorders, but the common ones are: sleep apnea, insomnia, nocturias etc.  As strange as these disorders may seem they can affect many people in their sleeping behavior. All the basic instincts like sex and eating can come out aggressively, said Carlos H. Schenck, MD, senior staff psychiatrist at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center.

Sleep disorders often appears with other health problems and together worsens the situation.  Pain and depression could keep you from sleeping all night.  Some doctors differ in the diagnosis of which comes first if the depression or the sleeping disorder. 

Insufficient sleep can result in car crashes, physical symptoms, decrease in daytime work performance as well in our studies feeling sleepiness and tired.  Our ability to be productive is being compromise, which this takes us to a level where you cannot think clearly. 

As this sleeping disorder takes on you becoming a health condition that could even produce in your mind suicide thoughts and becoming a threat to yourself, family and others.

Another consequence of having a sleeping disorder is constant irritability. “Someone who doesn’t sleep well is a nuisance,” said Hernán Mendez. Bad humor is caused because the brain fells overstressed when you haven’t sleep enough.

Mendez has been working at UPRM 20 years from now and he says that 70 percent of the students who come for counseling suffer from sleeping disorders. The most common causes that he has find are anxiety and depression.

Anxiety in college students is mostly due to the pressure that they have from classes, housemate problems, family problems and sentimental relationships. Depression is mostly due to inferiority complexes, the loss of someone special and traumas.

These conditions in college students can be caused by lack of recreation, ignorance of how to manage stress and constant change in the eating habits. “Eating junk food especially after seven pm is a sleep killer,” added Mendez.

Snoring is also a symptom that produces a sleeping disorder and is called sleep apnea.  This happen when you have blocked or narrow airways in your nose, mouth or throat. 

When you ask people if their snore they tend to say no, most likely because they sleep alone and are not aware, others are more embarrassed to admit it.  This is why it takes more time to be diagnosed and sometimes it becomes harmful for your health.  

Edwin Arana (father of Ashlyann Arana) is a clear case of sleeping apnea.  With the help of Evelyn Morales (his wife and mother of Ashlyann) he was attended by his Dr. Samuel A. Amill M.D. Board Certified Pneuomologist for Medicine of Critical Care.  For more than five years his was being deprived of oxygen when sleeping.  Until Morales could not stand any more the loud noise produce by his snoring, this was also not helping with his health.

Dr. Amill made many tests, one that could help him diagnose his condition. One of these tests was staying overnight in a facility with wires connected to his brain being this attach to a monitor in which it would indicate how was his sleep disorder affecting his sleep in 8 hours in night time. 

From then on until this day Edwin Arana sleeps with pressurized air mask while sleeping. It’s not comfortable but it helps him receive the oxygen needed to get a better sleep at night and at the same time he wakes up more effective than before.

Other example is the case of Evelyn Morales (mother of Ashlyann Arana), because she was diagnose with depression and anxiety. This affected her ability to sleep and was diagnosed with insomnia.  At this time her Dr. Ruth Rivera Malave Psychiatrist in Mental Disorder prescribes her with sleeping pills to help with this condition.    Before having this medication she would always be fatigue and tired not being able to do many things as she usually does.  Morales have been in treatment for the past four years, and hopefully she soon will to be able to sleep normally without any medication.

The first tip that Mendez offers to students with sleeping disorders is to make a schedule of the sleeping time and to stick with it. An important thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t dream, the short-term memory suffers. This memory is the most important for studying!

Another tip is to take short naps daily, but not in the bed. The bed should be only for sleeping and sex. A good place to take a nap is the sofa or a hammock.

When people use the bed for studying, they tend to have abnormal visions or hallucinations when they sleep. That’s the case of Miguel Alén (19), student of UPRM, who had bad experiences while he slept after studying in bed.  He saw shadows in his room and herd strange voices. According to Mendez this is a common symptom that college students present when aren’t getting enough sleep.

This “experiences” that people had due to sleeping disorders are being debated if it is a medical or spiritual condition. Some scientists call it sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is an inability to perform voluntary movement during the transition between wakefulness and sleep ( The episodes are usually associated with extreme anxiety and, in some cases, fear of impending death.

The principal symptom of sleep paralysis is hallucinations of hearing strange voices or having paranormal visions. Sometimes the patients felt pressure over their body too.

Felling the presence of someone else in the room is also a common symptom of this condition. In a recent study, 86 percent of patients said that they felt a weird presence in their room. These experiences are strongly related to the lack of sleep that overstressed people have.

There are emotional consequences of this condition due to the strong conviction that people have that they are real. The most common ones are depression, delusion of persecution and isolation ( It also depends on the religious beliefs of the affected person.

 We must be aware for the good of ourselves as medical research confirm the high percent of people with these sleeping disorders. The National Institute of health Agency is one of the resources for these studies.

Because of the wide variety of consequences that bad sleeping has, the best thing to do is prevent them by trying to get the best sleep we can. It is important, especially for students to get a good night sleep so they can perform at their fullest potential.

Anxiety and depression are the most common causes of sleeping disorders.


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