Common Sleep Disorders
In the last few years, there have been many studies that find that common health issues may be caused by problems with sleep. You may find when you visit your doctor you are asked to take a small survey to help the doctor screen for common sleep disorders. Sleep disorders can have a profound effect on your health. Some of the most common sleep disorders include the following:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when you reach a deep stage of sleep and the muscles that surround the soft tissue in the throat relax and allow the tissue to fall back and obstruct the airway. Snoring is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Many times the first hint a person may have obstructive sleep apnea is when a partner complains about constant snoring. They may even report the partner wakes them up because they stop breathing for periods and may also be gasping in their sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed by performing a sleep study in a sleep laboratory, or with a newer at home sleep test. If you snore or have other symptoms of sleep apnea it is important that you see a sleep specialist who can diagnose and treat your symptoms. Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to heart disease and other health issues.
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia can be either acute or chronic. Acute insomnia can be caused by something like not being able to fall asleep before a big job interview or exam. Chronic insomnia is not being able to sleep regularly for an extended period of time. Insomnia can cause feelings of fatigue, inability to concentrate, moodiness and can cause issues with school or work performance. Many of us experience occasional insomnia. However, if your insomnia is leading to any of the symptoms noted, you should visit a sleep specialist.
RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome)
RLS is characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs (and sometimes other parts of the body) that cause a person to feel the need to move to relieve the discomfort. It usually occurs during the evening or nighttime hours, and moving will relive the uncomfortable feeling temporarily. RLS can interfere with proper sleep hygiene and cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and other symptoms. A sleep specialist can help diagnose and treat the symptoms of RLS.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that has symptoms of excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness. People with the disease may fall asleep during regular activities. Cataplexy is a paralysis of REM sleep that may happen to a person with narcolepsy during waking hours. The person with narcolepsy may fall asleep while sitting at a red light in traffic, for instance. Narcolepsy can be treated by a sleep specialist. If you have any of these symptoms you should see a sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
These are some of the most common sleep disorders. As we learn more about sleep and it’s importance to our overall health, more studies are being done to help those with sleep disorders. If you think you have a sleep disorder, there are treatments to help you overcome the effects that may be affecting your life. A board-certified sleep specialist is trained to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. You may need a referral from your primary care physician to see a sleep specialist. Talk to your doctor if you feel you may have symptoms of a sleep disorder.