Sleep disorder is characterized by difficulty in having quality, timely and deep sleep. It can impinge on the state of your physical, emotional and mental health.
There are so many types of sleep disorders with many discomforting attributes like; daytime sleepiness, lack of energy and difficulty in concentrating. Sleep disorder is not only lack of adequate sleep but excess sleep is also a form of sleep disorder.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, 10-20 percent of people complain of significant sleep problems while about 33.3 per cent of adults report insomnia symptoms. It has also being said that 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders.
This post will discuss few of the sleep disorders, while subsequent edition will look at remedies for the disorders.
Some of the most important sleep disorders are:
- Bed wetting
- Psychiatric disorder
- Sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome
Let us see more information on the six different types of sleep disorders
Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is an involuntary or an unintentional release of urine while asleep. It is most common with children below the age of 7 while some adults also have this challenge. Bedwetting often leave behind wet bedding, pajamas and an embarrassed child. The child often time may not want to socialize while sleeping outside home becomes a nightmare for the child. The American Sleeping foundation estimated that seven million children in the United States wet their beds on pajamas.
This night incontinence (and/or daytime in some other cases) is part of child development, however, if it continues to happen after the age of 7, it is important to see the doctor to ascertain that there are no underlying medical condition such as obstruction of the urinary tract.
2. Psychiatric or medical conditions
Loss of sleep can also be due to psychiatric problems like; anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic, depression, and alcoholism. This category is also inclusive of sleeping sickness, a parasitic sleep disease caused by Tsetse flies.
3. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
It is a sleep disorder whereby breathing is periodically and repeatedly interrupted due to narrowed or blocked airways. When the muscles in the upper throat relax during sleep it closes and block the throat airway causing loud, labored snoring and stressful sleep interruptions frequently throughout a single night, and resulting in severe daytime drowsiness, depression, moodiness, and inability to concentrate during the waking hours. This stop in breathing is called apnea.
Features of Sleep Apnea
- Snoring is a tell-tale evidence caused by air squeezing through the narrowed or blocked airway. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea though.
- A lower jaw that is short compared to your upper jaw
- Certain shapes of the roof of your mouth (palate) or airway that cause it to collapse more easily.
- Large neck or collar size, 17 inches (43 centimeters) or more in men and 16 inches (41 centimeters) or more in women
- Large tongue, which may fall back and block the airway
- Large tonsils and adenoids that can block the airway
Other factors also may increase your risk:
4. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?
This type of sleep disorder makes it difficult to stay asleep due to an almost irresistible feeling to move the legs characterized by creeping, crawling, tingling and burning sensation. This feeling do not make the affected people to have enough or deep sleep and may therefore feel tired during the day, irritable, lack focus and unable to stay too long at social function except they keep moving up and shaking their leg. RLS can either be primary or secondary, mild or severe. Medical attention should be sought to relieve the condition.
Narcolepsy is another chronic form of sleep disorders. It affects not too many people, however, it is “sleep like to be dead”. The condition itself causes dysfunction in the brain mechanisms that manage sleeping and waking—causing a person to immediately fall asleep irrespective of the ongoing activities. It can affect someone a midst a conversation, driving, walking, driving, climbing stairs, working or at the dining table etc. Most people with narpolepsy are extremely fatigued during the daytime hours, and suffer from hallucinations, muscle deterioration, sleep paralysis, and fainting.
Insomnia is the most popular form of sleep disorder that make going to sleep, staying asleep difficult; it can cause you to wake up too early and rob you of going back to bed. This usually means the inability to initiate or maintain continuous sleep.
Statistic shows that Insomnia affects nearly 40% of women and 30% of men. It affects over 50% of people over the age of 65.
Other symptoms are;
- Non restorative night sleep.
- Tiredness and sleepiness during the day.
- Anxiety, Irritability or depression.
- Distorted attention, concentration on assignments blurred memory.
- Increased errors or accidents.
- Ongoing worries about sleep.
Insomnia in elderly people may be due to frequent arousal and reversal of sleeping hours from night to day while transient insomnia is as a result of situational stresses such as family, work, or school problems; jet lag; illness; or loss of a loved one.
Chronic Insomnia is due to stress, life events and habits that disrupt sleep, it can last longer than a month. The symptoms of insomnia rarely require confirmed diagnosis. However, acute insomnia generally does not require a sleep study for confirmed diagnosis. When it is observed that Insomnia is present for at least 6 months and there is no response to behavioral, medical, or psychiatric treatment, a sleep study will be required.
Insomnia is reputed to have a negative impact on quality of life, depriving her patient of competitive energy level, stable emotion and sound health.
What to do when you experience sleep disorders?
If you suspect that you may have a sleep disorder, discuss your symptoms with your primary care doctor. He or she can perform a physical exam and help you identify the difficulties you are having with sleep. Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks may be helpful to your doctor. Some illnesses can cause disturbed sleep, so your doctor may order tests to rule out other conditions.
If your doctor suspect that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may refer you to a sleep disorder clinic. A sleep specialist will review your symptoms and may suggest that you undergo a sleep study.