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If you have troubles getting enough sleep during the night, or staying asleep, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Unfortunately, many people all over the world wake up at night and are not able to return to sleep. Some of them even wake up in the morning and feel like they haven’t slept at all. If these things happen to you regularly, it would be an excellent idea to consult your doctor. The chances that a medical disorder is interfering with your body and isn’t letting you get a good night’s sleep are high.
What are Sleep Disorders?
Sleep disorder is a medical condition that prevents us from getting restful sleep. As a consequence, we feel tired and dysfunctional during the day. According to research, more than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. There are around 80 sleeping disorders types, and some of them are much more common than others. If we are sleep-deprived, we are at risk of developing severe medical problems that can even reduce our lifespan. Getting a bad night’s sleep occasionally is nothing to worry about, we have all been there, and it is not a reason to panic. However, if you have a consistent pattern of sleep deprivation, it may be a sign of a disorder that requires attention. In this case, it would be wise to consult your doctor and explain your symptoms.
It is the most common sleep disorder, and almost half of the population experiences its symptoms occasionally, whereas about 10% of all people suffer from chronic insomnia. It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early, and having troubles going back to sleep. It can either occur by itself or be associated with other medical conditions. If it is short-term, it is also known as acute insomnia, whereas if it lasts for a long time it is called chronic insomnia. Most common symptoms of this sleep disorder include feeling unrefreshed after waking up, lack of energy, daytime sleepiness, depression, concentration difficulties, impulsive behavior, forgetfulness, and decreased quality of life.
Sleep apnea is also quite common, and it can be potentially dangerous. It occurs when a sleeper’s breathing is interrupted, and there are two types:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Central Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common, and it occurs when a sleeper’s breathing stops for a few seconds during the night due to obstructions in the airways. This blockage occurs when the throat’s soft tissue relaxes and collapses into the airways, thus blocking oxygen from reaching the lungs. Partial obstruction results in snoring, whereas full blockage results in gasping sounds. Some of the symptoms of this condition include fatigue, snoring, restlessness during the night, daytime sleepiness, and problems with concentrating.
On the other hand, when it comes to central sleep apnea, airways are not blocked, and oxygen can get to the lungs, but the brain fails to tell the person’s body to breathe. It is related to the central nervous system, and people with this disorder wake up during the night and sometimes gasp for air.
It is a neurological disorder that occurs when the brain is not able to control its sleep cycle. People with this condition can suddenly fall asleep during the day without any control, for example during a conversation, and experience daytime sleepiness and sudden muscle weakness. Some of the symptoms of narcolepsy include cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and disturbed nocturnal sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome
This disorder causes an intense, persistent, and irresistible need to move legs, or sometimes other body parts, usually while lying down in bed or sitting. It falls into the category of sleep disorders as it usually occurs in the evening and makes falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. It is associated with irritability, daytime sleepiness, and lack of concentration. The exact cause of the restless leg syndrome is not familiar, but experts believe that it is hereditary. Its symptoms can be reduced by regular exercise, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and prescribed medication in severe cases.
Bruxism is also known as teeth grinding, and it affects almost 45 million people in the United States. According to experts, most common causes of this disorder are anxiety and excessive stress. Many Americans are under a lot of stress regularly, and it is not surprising that so many people are affected by this condition. If you have a headache in the morning, after waking up, or a sore jaw, it may be a sign that you are suffering from this problem. If this is the case, you can schedule a consultation with your dentist and get a mouth guard and avoid chewing anything that is not food.
It is usually caused by the lack of sleep, fever, illness, or some medications. It happens during deep sleep, and it results in walking or performing other actions while the person is asleep. Sleepwalking affects children more than adults. If you or your kids are suffering from this disorder, it may be a good idea to reduce the intake of liquids a couple of hours before going to bed.
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Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic