Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. Have you noticed that lately, no matter how much sleep you get, you still feel exhausted? Or are there times when it is hard for you to fall asleep? Does your snoring keep others up at night? If so, then it might be time for a doctor’s visit to determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder.
Numerous sleeping disorders range from harmless to serious. Some can even be life-threatening. It’s important to know the symptoms of the main sleep disorders, how they can affect your health and well-being, and what you can do about them.
Here are seven sleep disorders that require medical attention.
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for a sufficient period. It may also be characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). This can last from a few hours to several nights. It’s generally treated with prescription sleep medications, behavioral counseling, and lifestyle modifications such as avoiding alcohol or caffeine before bedtime.
Insomnia is very common during the early months after childbirth, when you’re in your 50s, or if you have a chronic medical condition or mental health issue. In addition, long-term stress, poor sleep habits, and poor sleep quality also contribute to it.
2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA refers to a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or lapses in airflow while sleeping. This can lead to poor sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. Some symptoms include loud snoring, frequent waking up at night, morning headaches or dry mouth, depression, and irritability.
Also, sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, car accidents, and diabetes. It’s a serious condition, so it’s important to talk with your physician about it.
Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep at inappropriate times, and abnormal REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These symptoms can interfere with work, school, social activities, and family life.
This disorder is caused by a brain signaling problem that disrupts the normal sleep-wake cycle. Narcoleptic patients may experience cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, automatic behavior changes, and disrupted nighttime sleep. The disorder is diagnosed based on symptoms and can be treated with medications that promote wakefulness.
4. Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterized by an urge to move the legs and an inability to do so. It’s often associated with a feeling of “jumpy” nerves and may be accompanied by unpleasant sensations, such as noise, pins, needles, or tingling in the legs.
Restless legs syndrome can be very uncomfortable but doesn’t cause permanent damage. It’s usually treated with lifestyle changes or medications that calm the nervous system.
People with RLS are often told they have psychological problems such as anxiety or depression. Some experts believe there is a connection between RLS and the autonomic nervous system, namely the sympathetic nervous system.
With this disorder, a person may perform complex behaviors while asleep, such as getting out of bed and walking around. Some cry out loud or have violent episodes.
Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that can be embarrassing for the person and disruptive for others. It can also cause injury to the person and others if they try to interact with them or in an unsafe environment such as a street or busy highway.
Sleepwalkers are unaware of their actions while they’re performing them. Sleepwalking can be very difficult to diagnose because it occurs during normal sleep and not during a delirious or confused state. Sometimes medication may cause this disorder.
6. Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a condition that may cause you to feel as if you’re unable to move or speak when waking up or falling asleep. This can be quite terrifying and may sometimes be accompanied by vivid hallucinations.
Sleep paralysis is often associated with narcolepsy and results from brain activity during REM sleep, which occurs most often during the second half of your sleep cycle. This disorder causes a loss of muscle tone along with temporary paralysis. You may have sleep paralysis if you wake up and find that you can’t move or speak for a few seconds or minutes.
7. Night Terrors
With this disorder, you suddenly wake up while sleeping, sprawled on the floor or the bed, and unable to move or speak. Night terrors are frightening experiences in which a person may scream and thrash their arms during the episode.
When this disorder occurs during childhood, it can be extremely distressing and cause sleep problems in adulthood. Night terrors are most closely related to sleep paralysis and can occur at any time of day or night.
Understanding that your sleeping patterns are just as important as other habits is important. Routine exercise, a healthy diet, and meditation work harmoniously to improve your sleep quality and overall health.
But, remember that it’s best to see a professional before self-treating anything when it comes to sleeping disorders.