Everyone has experienced a poor night of sleep every once in a while, but there are many people who suffer from consistent sleep deprivation due to their inability to get a good night’s rest on any given night.
These people are the individuals who suffer from various sleep disorders. For those individuals struggling to sleep on a nightly basis, it is important to get help. A lack of sleep, especially on a nightly basis, can have very adverse effects on your overall health and well-being. It is not unusual to have a limited understanding of the many different sleep disorders, but the first step toward fixing the issue is recognizing it and then understanding it.
So, whether you think you might be experiences sleep struggles and want to know more, or you just want to educate yourself, here are the most common sleep disorders:
1. Sleep Apnea or OSAS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome):
According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea affects up to 12 million Americans. Rooted in the Greek word apnea, which means “without breath,” sleep apnea is a sleep disorder caused an individuals’ inability to breath effectively throughout the night. Throughout the night, someone’s breathing might stall for 10 seconds or higher up to 25-30 times per hour. These pauses often lead to the individual choking and gasping for air, disrupting any chances for effective sleep. Not only does this result in decreases in daily functions, but it can also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder, but it can be treated. While the specific treatment for sleep apnea will depend on individual factors, there are a few possible treatments. First, behavioral changes can be effective. Such changes usually include weight loss, learning new sleep habits, and avoiding harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Furthermore, Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy can also be required for an effective treatment. This therapy includes wearing a pressurized mask that helps keep your airways open while you sleep. Treatment might also include other oral or dental devices that hold the tongue and jaw forward, opening the airways. Lastly, some patients might need surgery to effectively treat sleep apnea. Surgeries often include removing adenoids and tonsils.
Insomnia can be one of the more discrete sleep disorders, but it affects many people and can have serious implications on their daily life. While it is normal to have trouble sleeping every once in a while, people who suffer from insomnia struggle getting enough satisfying sleep on most nights. So, if you struggling with one or more of the following on a nightly basis, you might struggle with insomnia:
· Difficulties falling asleep, especially when tired
· Awakening during your sleep often throughout the night as well as difficulty falling back asleep
· Waking up early in the morning despite poor sleep
· Overall unrefreshing sleep
Insomnia affects anywhere up to 60 million people in America, and the risk for insomnia only grow as you age. Fortunately, insomnia can typically be treated by treating the underlying conditions and symptoms that might be causing your struggles. This often involves behavioral changes and medication, but it depends on the individual. You can set up an appointment with a doctor to discuss possible underlying causes.
Narcolepsy is one of the more complicated and difficult sleep disorders as it is a chronic disorder without a known cause. Narcolepsy affects individuals’ central nervous system by sending them signals for when to be awake and when to be asleep at sporadic and often incorrect times. This often results in individuals falling asleep at times throughout the day, and this often occurs without much of a notice. Likewise, this can also result in very poor and broken up sleep for people suffering from narcolepsy. Not only does this have similar implications on daily life as the other sleep disorders, but it can also prevent people from carrying out normal tasks effectively, such as driving.
While there is no cure for narcolepsy, the symptoms of narcolepsy can be controlled through medication and behavioral changes. Of course, the specific treatment used to control the symptoms will depend on individual circumstances, treatment usually involves taking a stimulant throughout the day as well as integrating 10-15 minute naps into the patient’s day.
4. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS):
Just as it sounds, restless leg syndrome is a disorder in which a person suffers from unpleasant feelings and sensations in their legs. Patients often describe their sensations as creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling, and painful. RLS symptoms occur most often in the calf and lower leg area, but can extend to the ankle, thigh, and even in the arms. People who struggle with RLS can have their daily life disrupted due to extreme daytime fatigue. A person might also suffer with decreased focused and even memory loss when dealing with RLS and fatigue.
While there is no direct cure for restless leg syndrome, sometimes RLS can be controlled by treating underlying conditions. Otherwise, people can make lifestyle adjustments to help subdue mild RLS symptoms. These lifestyle changes often include the following:
· Reducing, or eliminating, the use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, as well as any other drugs
· Increasing intake of minerals such as iron, folate, and magnesium, which can usually be done by way of taking supplements
· Participating in an exercise routine that involves moderate levels of exercise every day
· Maintaining a better sleep schedule that follows a stronger pattern than previous sleep habits
· Massaging the affected areas, taking cold or hot baths, and using heating pads and/or ice packs to soothe the affected area
At the end of the day, sleep is extremely important for anyone who wants a healthy and well life. Even the smallest sleep disruptions can have major implications on someone’s daily life when the disruptions become a consistent part of your sleep process.