Sleep disorders are disturbances to the normal sleeping patterns of a person that result to distress and disruption of normal functioning, and in some cases serious health problems. They are extremely common and virtually everyone is affected by such a disorder at some point of their lives. Some sleep disorders are short-term and others long-term. There are various types of sleep disorders, each with different causes, symptoms and treatments. Here are some of them.
One of the most common sleep disorders, insomnia occurs in all people but it is especially common among the elderly. It can be caused by factors such as underlying medical conditions and stress. Insomnia is usually characterized by continuous difficulty of getting sleep, sleeping less than a person would desire, frequently waking up at night and sleepiness during the day. Most cases of insomnia can be treated by making lifestyle changes as well as behavioral therapy -without having to use sleeping pills or consulting a sleep specialist.
Snoring is another common disorder whose symptoms are a sound produced as result of vibration of the respiratory structures. This usually occurs due to obstruction of airflow as a person breathes while asleep. The sound can sometimes be soft but in other cases it can be extremely loud and unpleasant . Irregular air movement in a person’s airways can be caused by a variety of factors such as poor muscle tone of throat muscles, relaxants like drugs or alcohol, sleeping on the back, and even obstructive apnea.
This sleep disorder is known to affect the quality of sleep of the snorer and their bed partner. Snoring causes irritation, daytime drowsiness and decreased libido. There are several treatment options available for this condition including snoring mouthpieces, “anti-snore “pillows and nose clips. Losing weight and quitting smoking can also help control snoring.
Sleep apnea is regarded as one of the most serious sleep disorders and is also very common. It causes a person to suddenly stop breathing during sleep. When this occurs, there is build up of carbon dioxide in the blood, and the person wakes up abruptly due to shortness of breath. The pause in breathing can vary from several seconds to a much longer time that the person’s skin turns blue due to deprivation of oxygen .The pauses in breathing disrupts sleep. If untreated, the affected person may repeatedly stop breathing while asleep, sometimes even hundreds of times in one time. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include chest pains, loud snoring, gasping during sleep as well as nasal congestion.
Since sleep apnea is a potentially-life threatening disorder, an individual should see a doctor immediately they suspect they are affected. Losing weight, sleeping on the side and elevating the bed’s head can help in mild and moderate cases of sleep apnea.
Sleep paralysis is a sleep disorder where a person, when either falling asleep or waking up, temporarily experiences inability to move or speak. Its length can vary from a few seconds to several minutes. Other symptoms of sleep paralysis include a feeling of pressure and choking. This sleep disorder can occur with other sleeping disorders like narcolepsy. Treatment options for sleep paralysis include prescription drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants and other clinical treatments. It is important to note that the drugs may not work for everyone.
Other common types of sleep disorders include sleep deprivation and REM sleep disorder.