What are sleep disorders?

If you experience difficulties sleeping or cannot get restful sleep, you may suffer from a sleep disorder. This condition can cause symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, among others. Although occasional sleep problems can affect anyone, persistent sleep issues may indicate the presence of a sleep disorder.

  • If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping regularly.
  • If you feel tired during the day more often, even after sleeping for at least seven to eight hours at night.
  • If you have a reduced or impaired ability to perform your daily activities.

Over 100 million people of all ages are not receiving proper sleep, which can have significant consequences. Sleep is a vital aspect of overall well-being, and inadequate sleep can negatively impact performance in school and work, as well as interpersonal relationships, health, and safety. It’sIt’s crucial to prioritize getting sufficient sleep to avoid the potential adverse outcomes associated with chronic sleep deprivation.


Indian boy with sleep disorder

Types of sleep disorders

There are around 80 different types of sleep disorders have been identified. Some of the most common ones include

  1. Insomnia is defined by difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up too early, or experiencing non-restorative sleep.
  2. Sleep apnea: A disorder that causes brief pauses and restrictions in breathing during sleep, which can lead to disrupted sleep and other health issues.
  3. Restless leg syndrome: A condition that produces uncomfortable sensations in the legs, leading to an irresistible urge to move them.
  4. Narcolepsy: A neurological disorder characterized by symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden sleep attacks during the daytime, sudden loss of muscle tone, sleep paralysis, hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations etc.
  5. Circadian rhythm disorders such as jet lag or shift work disorder disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  6. Parasomnias: A group of sleep-related disorders that involve abnormal behaviours or movements during sleep, such as sleepwalking or night terrors.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect having a sleep disorder, as many of these conditions can be effectively managed with proper diagnosis and treatment.

Read More – Sleep and Health

How much sleep is necessary?

According to experts, adults should aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, although individual needs may vary. However, a recent National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll indicated that adults between 18 and 54 typically sleep only 6.4 hours on weekdays and 7.7 hours on weekends. This poll also revealed a decreasing trend in sleep duration over the past several years, with many people reporting internet use or work-related stress as potential reasons for their reduced sleep time.

For older adults between the ages of 55 and 84, the National Sleep Foundation reported an average of seven hours of sleep on weekdays and 7.1 hours on weekends, with sleep disturbances commonly caused by the need to use the bathroom and physical discomfort.

Children require varying amounts of sleep based on age, with optimal sleep times differing accordingly. However, a prior Sleep in America poll discovered a discrepancy between recommended and actual sleep duration in children, with actual sleep duration 1.5 to two hours less than recommended. This poll also identified caffeine consumption and having a television in the bedroom as factors contributing to reduced sleep time by three to five hours and two hours per week, respectively.

What happens when a person doesn’tdoesn’t get enough sleep?

Insufficient sleep can result in various adverse outcomes for a person. When someone doesn’tdoesn’t get enough sleep, they may experience decreased cognitive function, such as difficulty with concentration, memory, and decision-making. They may also suffer from mood changes like irritability, anxiety, and depression. 

Inadequate sleep can also negatively impact physical and mental health, and it may increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Chronic sleep deprivation can also weaken immune systems, making people more prone to illness and infection. It is essential to get enough sleep to avoid these potential adverse outcomes.

Causes of Sleep disorders:

  • Medical conditions: Certain conditions, such as chronic pain, respiratory issues, and neurological disorders, can cause sleep disturbances.
  • Lifestyle factors: Poor sleep hygiene and habits such as irregular sleeping schedules, excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol, and lack of regular exercise can lead to sleep disorders.
  • Environmental factors: External factors such as noise, light, and temperature can negatively affect sleep quality.
  • Genetics: Some sleep disorders can have a genetic component.
  • Mental health conditions: Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can interfere with sleep.
  • Medications: Certain medications can have side effects that disrupt sleep.

It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect having a sleep disorder, as many of these conditions can be effectively managed with proper diagnosis and treatment.

Read More – Early Signs of Mental Disorders in Children

Symptoms of sleep disorders

Sleep disorders can cause various symptoms that can negatively affect a person’sperson’s overall health and well-being. Some common symptoms of sleep disorders include:

  1. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  2. Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  3. Waking up too early in the morning
  4. Snoring, gasping or choking during sleep
  5. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)
  6. Nightmares or night terrors
  7. Sleepwalking or other sleep-related behaviours
  8. Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  9. Irritability, anxiety, or depression
  10. Headaches or migraines upon waking
  11. Reduced libido or sexual dysfunction
  12. Increased appetite and weight gain
  13. Hypertension or high blood pressure
  14. The weakened immune system leads to more frequent illness

It’s important to note that not all people with sleep disorders will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, speaking with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment is essential.

How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

Sleep disorders are typically diagnosed through clinical evaluation and objective testing. Here are some common steps that may be involved in the diagnosis of a sleep disorder:

  1. Medical history: To properly evaluate you for sleep disorders, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your sleep habits, medical history, and any medications or supplements you are taking that may impact your sleep.
  2. Physical exam: Your healthcare provider may perform a physical exam to check for any underlying medical conditions contributing to your sleep problems.
  3. Sleep diary: Keeping and maintaining a sleep diary can help your healthcare provider identify patterns in your sleep habits and determine if further testing is necessary.
  4. Sleep study: A sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram, is an objective test that measures various aspects of your sleep, including brain waves, eye movements, and muscle activity. This test is usually done in a sleep lab or specialized clinic but can also be done at home with portable polysomnographic machines.
  5. Other tests: Additional tests may be necessary to diagnose certain sleep disorders, such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) to diagnose epilepsy-related sleep disorders or a multiple sleep latency test to diagnose narcolepsy.

The specific testing and evaluation methods will depend on the suspected sleep disorder and your healthcare provider’s recommendations. You must consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment if you suspect a sleep disorder.

How are sleep disorders treated?

Treatment for sleep disorders will depend mainly on the specific type and severity of the disorder. Here are some common treatments:

  1. Lifestyle changes: For some sleep disorders, lifestyle changes may be enough to improve sleep and can include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and incorporating regular exercise into your routine.
  2. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): This therapy can help you learn new habits and behaviours to improve your sleep, such as relaxation techniques, stress management, and sleep hygiene practices.
  3. Medications: Medications may treat certain sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorders. These can include prescription sleep aids, antidepressants, and medications to regulate breathing during sleep.
  4. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): CPAP is a standard treatment for sleep apnea, which involves wearing a mask that delivers a steady stream of air to prevent airways collapse and keep the airway open during sleep.
  5. Surgery: For some sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, surgery may be recommended to remove excess tissue in the throat or repair structural abnormalities causing breathing problems during sleep.

The specific treatment plan will depend mainly on the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and other factors. Working with a healthcare professional is vital to determine the best treatment for your specific sleep disorder.

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