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Are you someone who regularly struggles with sleep? Do you have problems getting to sleep and staying asleep, Do wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble returning to sleep? Alternatively, Maybe you wake up each morning feeling unrested and, or feel like you exhibit strange sleep behaviors? If you have any of these problems, it is possible that you may have a sleep disorder.
There are over 80 million Americans who suffer from a sleep disorder. Although there are over 70 recognized sleep disorders, some are much more prevalent than others. In this article we will describe the four most common type of sleep disorder that can affect the quality of you sleep.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder with nearly half everyone experiencing symptoms of insomnia at some time in their life. About 10% of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia.
Insomnia is characterised as having poor sleep quality due to one or more of the following factors:
Waking up in the middle of the night with trouble returning to sleep
Difficulty going to sleep at night
Waking up earlier in the morning than desired or planned
When you lose quality sleep on a regular basis, it can lead to trouble and difficulties throughout the day. Some of the problems reported as symptoms of insomnia include:
- General lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased quality of life
- Trouble in professional and personal relationships
- Expressing excess daytime sleepiness
Feeling as if your sleep was not retroactive.
Classifying insomnia varies on how long symptoms last and how often these symptoms last. Acute insomnia is experiencing sleeping loss over a short period, from one night to a few weeks; persistent insomnia is when poor sleep quality occurs at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
Causes of insomnia can vary from being assisted with a medical or stress, and worthy psychiatric problem, environmental influences. Alternatively, occurring without reason.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the next most prevalent sleep disorder affecting around 20 million Americans, It;’s also estimated that up to 80% of people with OSA may not even realize it
Although insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea is the disorder that gets diagnosed and treated the most from sleep clinics.
Obstructive sleep apnea is when someone;s breathing stops for several seconds during the night due to the upper respiratory state being blocked. As a person rests, soft tissues within the throat relax and collapse int the airway; this prevents oxygen from getting into the lungs. Partial blockage often will result in snoring and full blockage results in a pause of breathing preceded by gasping or choking sounds as breathing resumes.
As a response to not breaking, the brain will prompt someone to awake from sleep to force respiratory effort to break harder to place
If and when this occurs several times an hour for several second at a time, the brain does not have the opportunity to enter deeper p[hases of sleep where restorative tissues, bone, and cognitive functions prepare you for the next day. As the result, the quality sleep is never achieved, and the person is left feeling tired all day.
Also, the respiratory effort required while resting to continue breathing and function puts stress on the heart and can lead to all kinds of cardiological problems down the line, including heart failure, heart attack, heart arrhythmia and more.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Nearly 10% of adults and 2% of children have restless leg syndrome (RLS) in varying degrees.
RLS is a neurological disorder that is described as persistence overwhelming need to move one’s legs during rest. This can also affect the movement of other body parts.
Sensations may occur in the leg that can be characterized, like itching, creeping, pulling burning, throbbing the only can be relieved by temporary moving or massaging the legs.
Restless leg syndrome is considered a sleep disorder because the continually need to move one’s leg during rest can have a severe effect on a person’s ability to maintain sleep. Sleep loss is one the most commonly documented side effects of RLS and leads to the symptoms of sleep deprivation that dangerously while in other disorders that will dimish the quality of life. These symptoms include memory impairment, cognitive impairment, depression and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Narcolepsy – This is a neurological disorder that is characterized bit the brain’s inability to control its sleep/wake cycle.
Approximately 1 in 2,000 people suffers from narcolepsy with over 200,000 American’s suffered from it.
People with narcolepsy suffer from chronic daytime tiredness and episodes in which they fall asleep suddenly, without expectation during the day. These “sleep attacks” can occur at any time, during any activity. Unfortunately, sleep attacks are not limited to periods of low engagement active, but can happen during any hour, school or work hours no matter the intensity level, in the middle of a conversation while eating, while playing sports, or exercising or most dangerously while driving.
A List of symptom of narcolepsy can include
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). EDS is the most common indication of narcolepsy and usually, the first symptom to appear (generally between the ages of 10-20 years old). EDS is characterised by the chronic persistence of dealing sleepy and involuntary episodes of failing asleep without warning. Sleep attacks bouts can last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes. Individuals with EDS reports that it feels like they have mental cloudiness, the lake of concentration and energy, extreme exhaustion and depressed mood. EDS can occur even when a patient appears to have gotten sufficient amounts of sleep the night before. It can happen throughout the day.
Sleep Paralysis – This is the inability to move or speak when you are falling asleep or begging to wake up. IN sleep paralysis, you are consciously aware of your surroundings. However, you are unable to move because the body is in REM sleep. REM sleep is when the voluntary muscles are paralyzed, this keeps people from acting out their dreams. Sleep paralysis lasts a few seconds up to a few minutes with no permanent effects.
Cataplexy. Cataplexy is quite similar to sleep paralysis in that there is an involuntary inability to move a muscle or speak. While very similar to sleep paralysis in condition, it is usually onset by changing circumstances. Instead of occurring at the beginning or end of sleep, capable occurs at any time a person is awake; it is triggered by intense emotions, such as stress, surprise, anger fear or humor. Cataplexy also occurs in various degree of severity which ranges from the slight loss of motor functions, such as muscle failure or dropping eyelids, to more severe loss of muscle tone and results in the physical falls, and the inability to move or speak. During cataplectic attacks, the person is unable to control what is happening, but they are fully conscious during the event.
Hallucinations – people with narcolepsy encounter hallucinations during times that they are waking from sleep (hypnopompic) or during sleep onset (hypnopompic). The hallucination is mostly very vivid and can be frightening to those who have them.
Disturbed nocturnal sleep. It may seem counterintuitive to consider that sufferer of narcolepsy would have any difficulty sleeping at night, but one of the most frequent symptoms is fragmented sleep. Just as people with narcolepsy have difficulty staying awake during the day, they often have difficulty remaining asleep at night. They can awaken up to four or five times up to 10 or 20 minutes for no apparent reason. Their sleep can be interrupted by insomnia, vivid dreaming, sleep talking, acting out while dreaming, and periodic limb movements.
What if you have A Sleep Disorder
If you think you may be experiencing a sleep disorder, you should speak with your primary care physician about your symptoms. If your doctor thinks that your symptoms are signs of a sleep disorder he/she will most likely refer you to a sleep clinic to have a sleep study.
If you do not have a primary care physician, you can reach out to a sleep clinic near you for a consultation with a sleep specialist to determine if a sleep study is the best method for diagnosis and treatment.