What are the different types of sleep disorders?

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There are many different types of sleep disorders. Some may be caused by other underlying health conditions.

Insomnia
Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep. It can be caused by jet lag, stress and anxiety, hormones, or digestive problems. It may also be a symptom of another condition.

Insomnia can be problematic for your overall health and quality of life, potentially causing:

depression
difficulty concentrating
irritability
weight gain
impaired work or school performance

Unfortunately, insomnia is extremely common. Up to 50 percent of American adults experience it at some point in their lives.

The disorder is most prevalent among older adults and women.

Insomnia is usually classified as one of three types:
chronic, when insomnia happens on a 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
Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. This is a serious medical condition that causes the body to take in less oxygen. It can also cause you to wake up during the night.

Insomnia is usually classified as one of three types:
chronic, when insomnia happens on a regular basis for at least 1 month
intermittent, when insomnia occurs periodically
transient, when insomnia lasts for just a few nights at a time

They include:
sleepwalking
sleep talking
groaning
nightmares
bedwetting
teeth grinding or jaw clenching
Restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an overwhelming need to move the legs. This urge is sometimes accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs. While these symptoms can occur during the day, they are most prevalent at night.

RLS is often associated with certain health conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson’s disease, but the exact cause isn’t always known.

Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is characterized by “sleep attacks” that occur while awake. This means that you will suddenly feel extremely tired and fall asleep without warning.

The disorder can also cause sleep paralysis, which may make you physically unable to move right after waking up. Although narcolepsy may occur on its own, it is also associated with certain neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.

What are the symptoms of sleep disorders?
Symptoms differ depending on the severity and type of sleeping disorder. They may also vary when sleep disorders are a result of another condition.

However, general symptoms of sleep disorders include:

difficulty falling or staying asleep
daytime fatigue
strong urge to take naps during the day
unusual breathing patterns
unusual or unpleasant urges to move while falling asleep
unusual movement or other experiences while asleep
unintentional changes to your sleep/wake schedule
irritability or anxiety
impaired performance at work or school
lack of concentration
depression
weight gain

What causes sleep disorders?
There are many conditions, diseases, and disorders that can cause sleep disturbances. In many cases, sleep disorders develop as a result of an underlying health problem.

Allergies and respiratory problems
Allergies, colds, and upper respiratory infections can make it challenging to breathe at night. The inability to breathe through your nose can also cause sleeping difficulties.

Frequent urination
Nocturia, or frequent urination, may disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up during the night. Hormonal imbalances and diseases of the urinary tract may contribute to the development of this condition.

Be sure to call your doctor right away if frequent urination is accompanied by bleeding or pain.

Chronic pain
Constant pain can make it difficult to fall asleep. It might even wake you up after you fall asleep. Some of the most common causes of chronic pain include:

arthritis
chronic fatigue syndrome
fibromyalgia
inflammatory bowel disease
persistent headaches
continuous lower back pain
In some cases, chronic pain may even be exacerbated by sleep disorders. For instance, doctors believe the development of fibromyalgia might be linked to sleeping problems.

Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety often have a negative impact on sleep quality. It can be difficult for you to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Nightmares, sleep talking, or sleepwalking may also disrupt your sleep.

How are sleep disorders diagnosed?
Your doctor will first perform a physical exam and gather information about your symptoms and medical history. They may also order various tests, including:

Polysomnography (PSG): This is a lab sleep study that evaluates oxygen levels, body movements, and brain waves to determine how they disrupt sleep vs. home sleep study (HST) that is performed in your own and is used to diagnose sleep apnea.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): This is a test that assesses electrical activity in the brain and detects any potential problems associated with this activity. It’s part of a polysomnography.

Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT): This daytime napping study is used in conjunction with a PSG at night to help diagnose narcolepsy.
These tests can be crucial in determining the right course of treatment for sleep disorders.

How are sleep disorders treated?
Treatment for sleep disorders can vary depending on the type and underlying cause. However, it generally includes a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes.

Medical treatments
Medical treatment for sleep disturbances might include any of the following:

sleeping pills
melatonin supplements
allergy or cold medication
medications for any underlying health issues
breathing device or surgery (usually for sleep apnea)
a dental guard (usually for teeth grinding

Lifestyle changes
Lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve your quality of sleep, especially when they’re done along with medical treatments. You may want to consider:

incorporating more vegetables and fish into your diet, and reducing sugar intake
reducing stress and anxiety by exercising and stretching
creating and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule
drinking less water before bedtime
limiting your caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon or evening
decreasing tobacco and alcohol use

eating smaller low carbohydrate meals before bedtime
maintaining a healthy weight based on your doctor’s recommendations
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can also significantly improve your sleep quality. While you might be tempted to sleep in on the weekends, this can make it more difficult to wake up and fall asleep during the workweek.

 

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