Sleep Disorders



Can’t get a good nights’ sleep? The alarm goes off, and you feel like you haven’t slept at all, so getting up is a chore. It’s possible you may have a sleep disorder and may not realize it. Millions of people have trouble sleeping and it can be very frustrating. When you don’t get enough sleep you feel tired, cranky, and irritable. The day just doesn’t go right. Here are a few possibilities you may want to discuss with your doctor.

Sleepwalking:

This disorder is also known as somnambulism. It usually happens when a person is in a deep sleep. Sleepwalking can be as simple as sitting up in bed and talking as when awake or more complex as driving a car.

It is more common in children than adults but can carry into adulthood. A sleepwalker can be hard to awaken and usually doesn’t remember the incident. It is a dangerous situation and unlike popular belief you should wake a sleepwalker. Unfortunately there is no known cure for sleepwalking.

Sleep Apnea:

There are two kinds of sleep apnea; obstructive or simple apnea and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder in which your breathing stops for up to 10 seconds. It happens repeatedly during your sleep. The muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airways open. Disturbed sleep and low oxygen levels can lead to health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, memory and mood problems which are dangerous and life threatening. Central sleep apnea is when the brain fails to control breathing during sleep.

Symptoms can be chronic snoring, sleep deprivation, depression, irritability, and suddenly falling asleep. High blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure are all possible results if left untreated. If you suspect sleep apnea see a doctor immediately. They will conduct a sleep study to confirm whether it is happening and prescribe the right treatment.

The most common treatment is a CPAP mask which fits over the nose and mouth providing continuous air flow into the airway. This keeps the airway open during sleep and is the preferred treatment of doctors. There are some lifestyle changes that help also such as weight loss, quit smoking, avoid alcohol, and lying on your side when sleeping.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS):

A RLS is a neurologic sensorimotor disorder that causes the legs to move when at rest and has been known to affect other areas of the body also. It is most sever at night time and can cause sleep deprivation. RLS is known to be a family trait and may be genetic. It can but not always is discomforting. There is no known drug treatment for this problem at this time.

Insomnia:

Insomnia is a symptom usually caused by stress, anxiety, depression, pain, or medications. Your sleep habits or sleep environment could also be contributing to lack of sleep. Medications for heart or thyroid disease, cold and allergy, and medications containing caffeine can affect your sleep. Women are more likely to experience insomnia than men.

Insomnia can cause serious problems if not corrected. Daily tasks, work, and safety is all affected by lack of sleep and can cause heart disease and depression. The most common form of dealing with this problem, as long as it is not long term, is medication. Before a doctor will prescribe medications they will first determine the cause. Medication may not be needed if the causes are environmental or behavioral.

If you suffer from any of these sleep disorders see a physician immediately to prevent more severe health problems from occurring.

Samantha Brown is a medical career consultant comparing various healthcare mba programs available.

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