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A sleep disorder is a condition that abnormally affects the quality, duration, or behavior of a person's sleep. Sleep disorders fall into three general categories: primary sleep disorders, secondary sleep disorders, and other sleep disorders.
- Sleep Disorders
- Signs / Symptoms
- Myths & Facts
Primary sleep disorders
Are caused by some sort of internal disturbance in the sleep-wake cycle. Common primary sleep disorders include:
- Sleep apnea - a condition in which breathing stops during sleep
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder - which involves a resetting of the body's sleep clock
- Hypersomnia - which is sleeping too much and sleeping at the wrong times
- Narcolepsy - which involves a sudden, overwhelming need to sleep at all times of the day
- Primary insomnia - which is trouble falling or staying asleep
Secondary sleep disorders
Involve unusual behaviors or body events associated with sleep. These include:
- Nightmare disorders - which involve frightening dreams
- Sleep terrors - which involve abrupt awaking and intense fear
- Restless limb movements - a crawling or thrashing movement while sleeping and the inability to hold the legs still while sleeping
Other sleep disorders
May also be part of a mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression. They could also be caused by medical conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, medication, or abuse of substances such as cocaine or alcohol.
For more information please call:
Rice Memorial Hospital
Respiratory Care Diagnosistics
Kellie Prentice, Coordinator
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Each sleep disorder has its own characteristic symptoms. Generally, some of the warning symptoms include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Irritability at work or home
- Difficulty concentrating
- Awakening suddenly at night with a choking or gasping sensation
- Morning headaches
- Falling asleep while driving or working
- Restless limb movements
What is the most common sleep disorder?
Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder. An estimated 10 percent of the adult population snores. For the most part, snoring has no serious medical consequences. But for an estimated five in 100 people snoring is the first indication of a potentially life-threatening disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.
The typical sleep apnea patient is an overweight, middle-aged man with extremely loud, habitual snoring. People with sleep apnea don't breath properly during sleep and, as a result, don't get enough oxygen. This result sin extremely poor quality sleep. Other common sleep disorders include: insomnia, restless limb movements, narcolepsy and night terrors.
What are some of the general treatments available?
There are some general guidelines which can help relieve the symptoms of some sleep disorders:
- Weight loss
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid sleeping pills and smoking
- Sleep on one side
- Use medications to relieve nasal congestion
Good sleep habits, regular exercise, establishing relaxation techniques and keeping a regular schedule may also help alleviate the symptoms.
One of the most highly effective treatments is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a mask worn over the nose during sleep. Pressure from an air compressor forces air through the nasal passages and into the airway. this pressure holds the airway open and allows the person to breathe normally. CPAP is used primarily to treat sleep apnea. Oral devices may be designed to open the airway by bringing the jaw, tongue, and soft palate forward.
Surgical procedures may also be effective in removing excess tissue from the throat. Symptoms and treatment methods can vary depending on the severity of your condition. Check with your physician about the cause, diagnosis and treatment for your case. For testing, a physician referral is required.
At the Rice Memorial Hospital Sleep Lab, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and periodic leg movement syndrome.
There are many common myths about sleep. The National Sleep Foundation took a look at six common myths and the facts that dispel them.
Myth #1: Sleep is not important. I can just get by on a few hours.
Fact: Sleep is vital to our health and well-being, and is just as important as diet and exercise. Although individual needs may vary, adults typically need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep may also be a critical factor in a person’s weight as well as energy and productivity levels.
Each time you don't get enough sleep, you add to your “sleep debt,” or accumulated sleep loss. You may not be able to catch up on lost sleep. As a result, your sleep debt may make you feel sleepier and less alert at times.
Myth #2: People who don’t have the usual 9-5 work schedule shouldn’t have too much trouble falling asleep when their work shift ends.
Fact: An estimated 15 percent of the nation’s work force are shift workers, who are often at work when their internal body clocks tell them its time to sleep. Sleep producing hormones such as melatonin are produced at night, when shift workers must be fully awake and alert.
But when its time for them to sleep, their irregular schedule works against their body clock, and they may find it difficult to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep.
Despite the challenges, shift workers need just as much sleep as those who work traditional hours, though they are at an increased risk for sleepiness as well as the common health risks that come with insufficient sleep such as high blood pressure and heart problems.
Myth #3: Insomnia is not a serious medical condition and has no consequences.
Fact: Insomnia can be a serious medical condition characterized by difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep (waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep), waking up too early in the morning or feeling tired upon waking. Several consequences of insomnia are decreased work performance, depression or mood changes and increased risk of automotive crashes.
Myth #4: Watching TV in my bedroom and working on my laptop in bed helps me wind down and fall asleep.
Fact: Doing work, watching TV and using the computer, both close to bedtime and especially in the bedroom, hinders quality sleep. Violent shows, news reports and stories before bedtime can be agitating. The sleep environment should be used only for sleep and sex
Myth #5: Turning up the radio, opening the window, or turning on the air conditioner in the car are effective ways to stay awake when driving.
Fact: These “aids” don’t work. They are ineffective and can be dangerous to anyone who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy, as well as their passengers and others on the road. If you’re feeling tired while driving, pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for l5-45 minutes. Caffeinated beverages can help overcome drowsiness for a short period of time, however, it takes about 30 minutes before the effects are felt. The best prevention for drowsy driving is a good night’s sleep before your trip.
Myth #6: Alcohol or wine will help me fall asleep faster.
Fact: Some people feel that alcohol is a sleep aid. However, while alcohol may calm you and speed the onset of sleep, it actually increases the number of times you awaken during the night. If you are taking a sleep medication, it should not be used with alcohol or other drugs.