Unit 1 Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellness Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc. 80 Although a sleepwalking person’s eyes are typically open, he or she will not respond to questions. The affected person will also not remember sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is not usually a serious problem. A person who is sleepwalking will often find his or her way back to bed. If you find a person sleepwalking, gently guide him or her back to bed. Waking a sleepwalking person will startle him or her, but it is not harmful to do so. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder in which people experience sensations such as tingling, itching, cramping, or burning in their legs. People with RLS may also feel aches and pains in their legs. These people experience an urge to move their legs constantly to make these sensations go away. RLS is one of the most common sleep disorders, especially among older people. Not surprisingly, people with RLS have difficulty falling sleep. There is no known cause for restless legs syndrome. Another disease or health condition, such as anemia or pregnancy, may cause RLS. Some medicines can cause the symptoms of RLS. In addition, substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can worsen the symptoms of RLS. Treatment for RLS includes lifestyle changes such as regular sleep habits, relaxation techniques, and moderate exercise during the day (Figure 3.13). Certain medicines can also help lessen the symptoms of these conditions. Teeth Grinding Most people occasionally grind and clench their teeth. This behavior is known as bruxism. Teeth grinding can be caused by stress or anxiety, having an abnormal bite, or missing or crooked teeth. Many people who grind their teeth do not know they do it because it often occurs during sleep. They may learn that they grind their teeth from other people. Although this behavior is usually harmless, long-term teeth grinding can lead to tooth damage, a sore jaw, headaches, and even hearing loss. Fortunately, effective treatment methods exist for bruxism. A dentist can determine whether a person is grinding his or her teeth and may suggest wearing a mouth guard during sleep to protect the teeth. A mouth guard, also called a night guard, is a piece of plastic similar to the mouth guard athletes wear to protect their teeth (Figure 3.14). A person can wear the mouth guard at night to protect his or her teeth and prevent bruxism. A dentist may also recommend the following: Avoid chewing on pencils, pens, or gum, which accustoms the jaw muscles to more clenching. Focus on relaxing the teeth and jaw while awake. Place the tip of the tongue between the teeth to help prevent teeth clenching. Relax the jaw muscles before going to sleep by pressing a warm washcloth to the side of the face, or by massaging and stretching the jaw to help it relax. Stokkete/Shutterstock.com Figure 3.13 Certain lifestyle changes can help lessen the symptoms of RLS. vvoe/Shutterstock.com Figure 3.14 Wearing a mouth guard at night, such as the one shown here, can help prevent the effects of teeth grinding. What are some long-term health effects of bruxism?
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