Sleep Disorders: Effects On Health, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Sleep disorders are defined as changes in sleeping patterns that can negatively affect a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Millions and millions of people worldwide are affected by sleep disorders. These disorders can greatly disrupt a person’s quality of life, health, and safety. When a person does not get enough sleep, they might not be able to drive safely, concentrate at home or work, and it will also increase their risk of developing other health problems.
Recognizing the Signs
Signs of sleep disorders can include sleepiness during the day, increased movement during sleeping, and irregular breathing patterns. People may also have a lot of trouble falling asleep at night or will fall asleep at bad times, such as while operating a vehicle. This is completely unsafe.
Five Common Sleep Disorders
The five most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and REM sleep behavior disorder.
- Sleep Apnea
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
Insomnia is categorized as difficulty in trying to get to sleep or to stay asleep; there is short-term insomnia and chronic insomnia. Short-term insomnia usually appears after a stressful life event or after jet lag. Chronic insomnia occurs when an individual experiences difficulty falling asleep for at least one month’s time. There are many different reasons why a person can develop insomnia, such as bad sleeping patterns, medical conditions, breathing disorders, hormone changes and so much more.
Sleep apnea is one of the most dangerous sleep disorders, as a person’s airway is blocked when they try to breathe while they are asleep, and they will stop breathing. When this happens, a person might start to choke or snore very loudly. Your brain becomes deprived of oxygen.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder where a person will suddenly fall asleep at any time, uncontrollably and during unusual circumstances. Restless legs syndrome is a constant urge to move your legs while you are resting.
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REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
Lastly, REM sleep behavior disorder is when a person will act out their dreams while they are asleep. A person will experience complete muscle paralysis while they sleep, but someone suffering from REM sleep behavior disorder will lack this. A person might shout, punch, scream and more while they are sleeping. Additional problems people may have while they are sleeping include sleepwalking and night terrors. Although a person is not completely conscious while they are sleeping, our bodies are still working hard. We dream and can even start to act out our dreams, which can become pretty scary for the sleeper and even any people around them.
Treatments are available for people suffering from sleep disorders. There are a number of things someone can do to help themselves before getting professional help. Improving your daytime habits and staying on a normal sleeping schedule can tremendously improve a person’s sleeping patterns; limiting caffeine intake, as well as alcohol and nicotine, will also help with sleep. Creating a bedtime routine is also helpful to help prepare your mind and body to sleep. If these self-help techniques are just not cutting it, it is important to turn to a professional. A specialist at a sleep clinic will observe your sleep patterns and physiological signs to determine what kind of treatment program is necessary; they will monitor your heart, brain, and breathing patterns. For example, a person suffering from sleep apnea may be advised to lose weight and may get a machine to allow them to breathe more easily at night, called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
Medications may also be prescribed to people with certain sleeping disorders, such as narcolepsy. While many of these sleeping disorders can be treated, not all of them can be completely cured. There are precautions and measures that a person can take to help themselves not to develop any of these sleep disorders at all. When you develop a sleep disorder, this can lead to other, very serious, medical conditions.
Get Your Sleep
Sleeping should be a peaceful and restful time, but for many, it is torture! Thankfully, if someone has a sleep disorder, there are treatments and self-help tips available to try and live a normal life and get back into a proper sleeping pattern. We need sleep to rejuvenate and repair our bodies, and people who are suffering from any kind of sleep disorder cannot benefit from all of the good our body does while we go off to dreamland!