Sleep Disorders – Here Are 10 Of The Most Common

Sleep Deprivation

There are many sleep disorders that people experience on a daily basis. Some people have trouble falling asleep, while others wake up frequently during the night. There are also disorders that cause people to be excessively sleepy during the day. If you are experiencing any of these problems, it is important to seek medical help. By diagnosing and treating the underlying cause of your sleep disorder, you can get the rest you need and feel more alert during the day.

Here are 10  sleep disorders that people commonly suffer from.

1. Insomnia

When it’s difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, you probably have insomnia. There might be a number of health issues making your body unable to relax. Occasionally, insomnia is the result of an ailment, and other times, it could be due to a bad mood, sadness, or tension. In these situations, it’s necessary to address the underlying issue. However, in many circumstances, there is no obvious reason for insomnia which of course makes it more complex to treat. Establishing healthy sleeping habits certainly helps but sometimes that isn’t enough and more sophisticated treatments are needed. Cognitive behaviour therapy is one suggestion though this needs the assistance of a professional therapist. At its best, sedative medications will only work in the immediate term and should not be relied upon for long term use.

2. Snoring

Snoring is a very common problem and it’s thought to affect up to 40% of men and 20% of women regularly. Snoring can certainly get worse with age and weight gain, and many regular snorers go on to discover they also have obstructive sleep apnea. One of the main problems with snoring is the impact it can have on relationships when someone who snores frequently disturbs their partner’s sleep.

3. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

People who have a narrow, floppy throat can lose their ability to breathe freely when sleeping and their throat muscles relax. Someone suffering from this usually experiences breathing difficulties multiple times per night and there is definitely a link between apnea and snoring as most people with OSA are snorers too! When the breathing difficulty is encountered, the person awakes – often just for a very brief moment with no recollection of it. Issues then arise with frequent waking disturbing the sleep and causing excessive tiredness throughout the day. Thankfully there are treatments for this common condition (CPAP Therapy) and sufferers are encouraged to lose any excess weight and cut down on alcohol consumption.

4. Sleep Hypoventilation

Breathing requires the brain to instruct the muscles to do so. The brain is less driven to do this when we sleep. The result is that people who have weak breathing muscles or those who are under excessive load due to severe lung diseases or obesity may not breathe strongly enough during sleep. We call this sleep hypoventilation. Without treatment, this can result in breathing difficulties during the day as well as heart failure. The most readily used treatment is called non-invasive positive pressure ventilation and it involves devices that assist breathing while sleeping.

5. Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. These can only be relieved by moving the legs. It varies in severity throughout the day. Between the hours of the evening and early in the morning is the worst time. It can interfere with sleep for some people. This can sometimes be caused by a lack of iron in the body and luckily there are several medications that can help prevent it.

6. Bruxism

This is when a person grinds his or her teeth at night while asleep and it’s really quite common. If left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the teeth. The condition can sometimes cause jaw discomfort. However, people with it are often unaware of any symptoms. Wearing dental guards can help protect the teeth during sleep.

7. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy affects about 1 in 2000 people. It is characterized by an inability to switch between being awake and asleep. Those who suffer from it can feel sleepy more frequently than they would like and may have disrupted sleep as well. In addition, they may experience hallucinations. This occurs when falling asleep or waking up. Occasionally, they are unable to move for a moment when they wake up. This condition is known as sleep paralysis. Alternatively, they may experience cataplexy. This is a sudden weakness of the muscles. It only lasts a moment and happens after laughing or feeling strong emotions. Not everyone with Narcolepsy experiences all of these problems. Treatment with drugs can be very effective. Symptoms of sleep paralysis may occur independently of Narcolepsy.

8. Sleep talking, sleepwalking and other automatic behaviours

There are many things we do when we’re awake that we normally don’t do when we’re sleeping. Walking and talking are two examples. But some people do these things while sleeping as well. This usually happens when they are only partially awake. Children are prone to this kind of behaviour. Once they become adults, these problems usually go away. Sometimes, however, they don’t. As well as binge eating and sexual behaviour, there are other complex behaviours that can occur while asleep. Both the person who does them and their partner can find them embarrassing or worse. The good news is these problems are treatable.

9. Nightmares and night terrors

These are also caused by not fully waking up. Typically, children are more prone to them than adults. For the person with them and for those around them, they can be extremely disturbing. They can also make people apprehensive about going to bed. Poor sleep habits can exacerbate the problem. Counselling is generally beneficial. Medication may be needed occasionally.

10. Rapid eye movement behaviour disorder

Sleep can be divided into several phases. Dreaming occurs most often during REM sleep. REM is short for rapid eye movement. All limb muscles are usually relaxed during REM sleep. This is not the case with REM sleep behaviour disorder. A person with this disorder will act out their dreams. They might move violently and lash out. Both the person who has it and their partner are at risk. This can be treated effectively.

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Queensland Sleep is an accredited sleep service. We are proud to have experienced doctors, nurses and sleep scientists on our highly specialised team.