June 1st until the 7th, has been designated by the American Sleep Association as Sleep Disorder Awareness Week.
Sleep disorders are a broad term for behaviours and abnormalities that cause sleep to be interrupted. There is a wide spectrum of sleep disorders recognized by the medical community, and it is likely that we all know someone who is suffering from any number of sleep disorders. Sleep disorders in general pose health risks, so it is important to be aware if you or a loved one may be suffering from one. Here are some common sleep disorders.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
At Good Morning Snore Solution, the sleep disorder we focus on is snoring. Although many people disregard it as a minor annoyance, snoring can actually affect not only with your partner (who has to deal with your snoring), but also your long term health. Besides causing daytime sleepiness, snoring can also make you lose concentration and cause headaches, and even weight gain. Snoring has also been linked to many cardiovascular risks such as heart disease, stroke, heart attack, arrhythmias, and reduced oxygenation of the blood. If you snore, it might be worth checking if you actually have Sleep Apnea. Sufferers of this disorder stop breathing for brief periods of time while they sleep. Because of this, they are at greater risk for the health conditions that snorers are prone to. There are two types: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, where your airway is blocked or collapses during sleep, or Central Sleep Apnea, where your brain fails to send signals to your breathing muscles. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans suffer from Sleep Apnea, and at least 2-3% of children have it as well.
Insomnia is another sleep disorder that many have experienced. Sufferers often have difficulty falling asleep. They may also have problems staying asleep. Most sufferers have Secondary Insomnia, where insomnia is caused by other factors such as medical or emotional disorders. Primary Insomnia is its own disorder, and can be caused by external stressors. Those who have insomnia can also have chronic insomnia, where it occur several nights a week. Insomnia can cause daytime fatigue, depression, irritability, and affect your ability to concentrate.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is referred to as a “sleep-related movement disorder” by the National Sleep Foundation, which also says 1 in 10 Americans suffer from the disease. RLS is a neurological disorder that causes patients to have an overwhelming urge to move their legs while resting – which usually occurs at night. Because of this, the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is severely impacted.
Narcolepsy is another neurological sleep disorder where the brain is unable to control the patient’s sleep/wake cycle. People with narcolepsy have Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS), where they have significant difficulty staying awake during the day, and are prone to falling asleep unexpectedly. These bouts of sleep can sometimes last for only brief periods, also known as microsleeps. They may also suffer from cataplexy, where they experience weakness and loss of voluntary muscle control. Other symptoms include hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Sleep disorders are very common. Therefore, if you think that you or someone you love might be suffering from a sleep disorder, it is best to consult your doctor. For more information on Sleep Disorder Awareness Week, visit the American Sleep Association website.