Sleep Disorders: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Do you know that Sleep Disorders can result in changes in the way you sleep?
A Sleep disorder is a condition that affects your overall health, safety, and quality of life. Moreover, sleep deprivation can affect your ability to drive safely and increase your risk of other health problems.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Sleep Disorders: Types
There are different types of sleep disorders and are often grouped into categories that explain why they happen or how they affect you.
Moreover, sleep disorders can also be grouped according to behaviors, problems with your natural sleep-wake cycles, breathing problems, difficulty sleeping, or how sleepy you feel during the day.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Sleep disorders are a group of condition that affects your ability to sleep well on regular basis.
Whether they occur due to a health condition or by too much stress, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common in the United States.
In fact, more than one-third adults in the United States report getting less than 7 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
More than 70% of high school students report getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep even on weeknights.
However, it is important to note that most people often experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and other outside factors.
When these issues, however, begin to occur on regular basis and interfere with daily life, they can indicate a sleeping disorder.
Depending on the type of sleep disorder, you may have difficulty time falling asleep and may feel extremely tired throughout the day.
This lack of sleep can negatively impact your energy, mood, concentration, and overall health.
Moreover, in some cases, sleep disorders can be a symptom of another medical or mental health condition.
These may go eventually once your get treatment for an underlying cause.
When sleep disorders are not due to another condition, treatment normally involves a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes.
Thus, it is important to receive a diagnosis and treatment if you suspect you have a sleep disorder.
When you do not get treatment, the negative effects of these disorders can lead to further health consequences.
Furthermore, they also tend to affect your performance at work, cause strain in relationships, and impair your ability to perform daily activities.
Types of Sleep Disorders
There are many different types of sleep disorders and some of them may occur due to other underlying health conditions.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep.
It can be due to factors like jet lag, stress, anxiety, hormones, or digestive problems.
Moreover, it can also be a symptom of another problem. It can be problematic for your overall health and quality of life.
Additionally, it can potentially cause:
- difficulty concentrating
- weight gain
- impaired work or school performance
An important thing to note is that insomnia is extremely common.
Up to 50% of American adults experience it at some point in their lives.
Moreover, this disorder is prevalent among older adults and women. Insomnia is often classified as one of the three types:
Chronic when insomnia occurs on regular basis for at least 1 month.
Intermittent when insomnia occurs periodically.
Transient when insomnia lasts for just a few nights at a time.
Sleep Apnea It is a condition that doctors characterize by pauses in breathing during sleep.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that causes your body to take in less oxygen. Moreover, it can also cause you to wake up during the night.
It is important to note that sleep apnea is of two types:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea This occurs when the flow of air stop because airway space is obstructed or is too narrow.
Central Sleep Apnea Where there is a problem in the connection between your brain and the muscles that control your breathing.
Parasomnias These are a class of sleep disorders that cause abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep.
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Other Types of Sleep Disorders
Some of the other types of sleep disorders are:
Restless Leg Syndrome, RLS RLS is an overwhelming need to move your legs, and this urge, in some cases, also comes with a tingling sensation in the legs.
While these symptoms can occur also during the day, they are most prevalent at night.
Many doctors associate RLS with certain health conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity, ADHD, and Parkinsons’ disease
However, the exact cause is not always clear.
Narcolepsy This condition is characterized by “sleep attacks” that occur while you are awake.
This means that you will suddenly feel extremely tired and fall asleep without any warning.
Moreover, this disorder can cause sleep paralysis, which makes you physically unable to move right after you wake up.
Though narcolepsy may occur on its own, many doctors often associate it with certain neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis.
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Sleep Disorders: Causes and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of sleep disorders often include excessive daytime sleepiness, irregular breathing, and irregular wake-sleep cycle, among others.
While a number of conditions, diseases, and disorders can lead to sleep disturbances. However, in most cases, they often develop as a result of an underlying health condition.
Keep on reading.
Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
The symptoms of sleep disorders differ depending on the severity and type of sleeping disorder.
Moreover, they may also vary when sleep disorders occur as a result of other conditions.
Some general symptoms of sleep disorders are:
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, daytime fatigue, strong urge to take naps during the day, and unusual breathing patterns.
Furthermore, unusual movement or other experiences while you are asleep, unusual or unpleasant urges to move while falling asleep, unintentional changes to your sleep/wake schedule, and irritability or anxiety.
Additionally, impaired performance at work or school, lack of concentration, depression, and weight gain are signs and symptoms of sleep disorders.
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Causes of Sleep Disorders
A number of conditions, diseases, and disorders can cause sleep disorders. Let’s discuss them as follows:
Allergies and Respiratory Problems Allergies, colds, and upper respiratory infections can make it challenging for your to breathe at night.
The inability to breathe through your nose can also lead to sleeping difficulties.
Frequent Urination Nocturia or frequent urination might disrupt your sleep, thus causing you to wake up during the night.
Moreover, hormonal imbalances and diseases of your urinary tract may also contribute to the development of this condition.
It is important to seek medical advice or call your doctor right away if frequent urination comes with bleeding or pain.
Chronic Pain Constant pain can often make it difficult to fall asleep. It might even wake you up at night after you fall asleep.
Some of the most common causes of chronic pain are:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- inflammatory bowel disease
- persistent headaches
- continuous lower back pain
In some cases, however, chronic pain may be exacerbated by sleep disorders.
For instance, many doctors are of the view that the development of fibromyalgia may have links to sleeping problems.
Stress and Anxiety It is important to note that both stress and anxiety can have a negative effect on your sleep quality.
Moreover, it can make it difficult for you to fall asleep or to stay asleep.
Nightmares sleep talking, or sleepwalking may also disrupt your sleep.
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Diagnosis and Treatment Options
In order to treat the disorder you are suffering from, your doctor will need to determine what type of sleep disorder you are suffering from.
If you do not get treatment for these, then these can lead to complications that can negatively affect the quality of your life.
Keep on reading to learn more about it in detail.
Diagnosing Sleep Disorders
Your doctor will first perform a physical exam and gather information about the symptoms you are experiencing and your medical history.
They will also order a number of different tests like:
Polysomnography, PSG This one is a lab sleep study that helps to evaluate oxygen levels, body movements, and brain waves.
Moreover, it helps to determine how they disrupt sleep vs. home sleep study, HST that you will perform on your own. This test helps to diagnose sleep apnea.
Electroencephalogram, EEG A test that helps to assess electrical activity in your brain and detects any potential problems associated with this activity.
It is a part of polysomnography.
Multiple Sleep Latency Test, MSLT MSLT is a daytime napping study that your doctor will use in conjunction with PSG at night to help diagnose narcolepsy.
These tests are critical in determining the right course of treatment for sleep disorders.
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Treatment for sleep disorders vary and depends on the types and underlying cause.
However, it generally includes a combination of both medical treatments and lifestyle changes.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Medical Treatments Medical treatments for sleep disorders may include the following:
Sleeping pills to help you sleep, melatonin supplements, and allergy or cold medications.
Moreover, medications for any underlying health issues, breathing device or surgery in case of sleep apnea, and a dental guard in case your doctor diagnoses teeth grinding.
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With the help of lifestyle adjustments, you can greatly improve the quality of your sleep, especially when you do them along with medical treatments.
You may want to consider the following:
- incorporating more vegetables and fish into your diet
- reducing sugar intake
- creating and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule
- reducing stress and anxiety by exercising and stretching
- drinking less water before bedtime
- limiting your intake of caffeine, especially in the late afternoon or evening
- decreasing tobacco and alcohol intake
- eating smaller low carbohydrate meals before bedtime
- maintaining a healthy weight based on the recommendations of your doctor
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can significantly help to improve your sleep quality.
While you might be tempted to sleep in on the weekends, this can also make it difficult to wake up and fall asleep during the workweek.
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It is important to note that the effects of sleep disorders can be so disruptive that you will most likely want immediate relief. However, long-term cases can take a bit more time to resolve.
If you, however, stick with your treatment plan and regularly communicate with your doctor, you can find a way to better sleep.