Abnormal sleep behavior, circadian rhythm, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep related breathing and sleep related movement are all types of sleep disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 50-70 million adults suffer from a sleep disorder. A few of the most common disorders are insomnia, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep hyperventilation, restless leg syndrome, bruxism, narcolepsy, sleep talking and other automatic behaviors, nightmares and night terrors, and rapid eye movement behavior disorder. If you think you may be suffering from one of these disorders speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. It affects about half of all adults. Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up often during the night and having trouble getting back to sleep, waking too early in the morning, having unrefreshing sleep and having daytime problems due to not sleeping well including fatigue, mood swings and concentration problems. If you are suffering from insomnia you can adopt good sleep habits. If that alone doesn’t help there are other treatment options available through your physician.
Snoring is another very common sleep disorder affecting 37 million Americans daily and up to 90 million intermittently. Many people who snore regularly also have obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring can get worse with age and weight gain. Snoring is also extremely disruptive to you and your partner’s sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is where there is an interruption in breathing during sleep. More than 18 million adults suffer from sleep apnea.Sleep apnea can cause other health complications including hypertension, heart disease, and mood and memory problems. Sleep apnea is caused by a small upper airway, being overweight, smoking and alcohol use, and a small jaw just to name a few things. The most preferred treatment for sleepapnea is a continuous airway pressure device or a CPAP therapy.
Sleep Hypoventilation is a particularly dangerous sleep disorder. It is the insufficient exchange of gasses. While awake a person naturally adjusts hypoventilation by taking longer or deeper breaths. During sleep though and especially during episodes of sleep apnea the body cannot regulate this and can lead to high levels of carbon dioxide. Common symptoms of hypoventilation are headaches, heart problems, stomach problems and faintness. Treatment for sleep hypoventilation includes CPAP or BPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) therapy.
Restless leg syndrome or RLS also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease is a sleep related movement disorder. It causes unpleasant urges to move the legs while at rest. It is believed that approximately 10% of adults are affected by RLS. One cause that has been found is iron deficiency which can be easily corrected with diet and medication.
Nocturnal teeth grinding or bruxsim is another type of sleep related movement disorder. Up to 70% of bruxsim cases are caused by stress; however, other causes are still widely unknown. In severe cases a dentist may prescribe an oral appliance to protect the teeth.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Those who suffer from narcolepsy sleep begins almost immediately with REM sleep which is why it is associated with paralysis, hallucinations, and other dreamlike and debilitating symptoms. Though there is no widely accepted cure for narcolepsy it can be alleviated by behavior therapy and the use of medication.
Talking and walking are things that we normally only do while awake. Few people also experience these while asleep. Sleep walking and talking is generally associated with children but can be seen in adults as well. People who sleep walk and talk generally have no memory of the event as they remain in a deep sleep state. These episodes can be embarrassing and dangerous for those who sleep walk.
Vivid and disturbing dreams are called nightmares or night terrors. They happen commonly in children. They usually involve being startled awake and vivid recollection of the dream. This can make people agitated and terrified for several minutes after waking but they will eventually relax and return to sleep.
People who act out their dreams while remaining asleep suffer from rapid eye movement behavior disorder (RBD). This can cause the sleeping person or their bed-partner injury as movements can be violent in nature. RBD is usually treated successfully with medication.