Dec 12, 2010

Types of Sleep Disorders

What is sleep disorder?
Sleep disorders involve any difficulties related to sleeping, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.

Types of sleep disorders
There are more than 100 different sleep disorders. I am just going to cite the more common sleep disorders here:

1.   1. Insomnia – a short term or chronic inability to get high quality sleep. It is a  common sleep problem and can be caused by a variety of things including stress, a change in time zones, an altered sleep schedule or poor bedtime habits.  

2.   2. Sleep apnea disorder – this is a disorder wherein breathing stops or gets very shallow while you are sleeping. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more, and the pauses can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour. This is a very serious sleep disorder, and can even be life-threatening.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include frequent gaps in breathing during sleep, gasping or choking for air, loud snoring, feeling unrefreshed after a night’s sleep and excessive daytime tiredness.

A common type of sleep apnea is obstructive apnea, wherein the causes are generally physical in nature. This includes obesity, large tonsils or adenoids, nasal congestion or blockage or a unique shaped head, neck or chin.

CPAP, a mechanical device worn while sleeping which provides continuous air pressure to keep the airway open, is the most recommended treatment for moderate to severe apnea. Losing weight, elevating the head of the bed or sleeping on your side, dental appliances and surgeries are other treatment options. 

  3.Snoring - caused by narrowing of your airway, either from poor sleep posture, excess weight or physical abnormalities of your throat. Snoring is different from sleep apnea. It may accompany sleep apnea, but not always.

Sleeping on your side, elevating the head of your bed, or losing weight are some of the self-help remedies for mild snoring.

4.   4. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep (PLMS)
Restless leg syndrome is a disorder causing an almost irresistible urge to move the legs or arms. The urge to move when lying down is due to uncomfortable, tingly sensation in the affected limbs.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is a related condition involving involuntary, rhythmic limb movements, either while asleep or awake.

RLS can occur on its own or related to other medical conditions like anemia, kidney disease, pregnancy or thyroid problems, Parkinson’s or alcoholism.

Lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements are among the treatment for RLS and PLMD.

5.   5. Narcolepsy – a neurological that causes extreme sleepiness and may even make a person fall asleep suddenly and without warning. People with narcolepsy lacks in hypocretin, a brain chemical which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Narcolepsy maybe genetic, but also appears to be influenced by environmental factors.
Symptoms of narcolepsy include intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during daytime, excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden, short-lives loss of muscle control during emotional situation (cataplexy).

6.   6. Night terror – a sleep disorder in which a person quickly awakens from sleep in a terrified state. It usually occurs during deep sleep, during the first third of the night. The cause is unknown, but may be triggered by fever, lack of sleep, or periods of emotional tension, stress or conflict. It is fairly common in children ages 3-7, but may also occur in adults.

7.   7. Sleepwalking – a disorder that occurs when a person walks or does another activity while they are asleep. Sleepwalking or somnambulism most often occurs during deep, non-REM sleep early in the night.

8.   8. Bruxism -  Involuntarily grinding or clenching of the teeth while sleeping. The cause of problematic bruxism is unknown, though several conditions are known to be linked to bruxism, including digestive ailments and anxiety.


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