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Everything You Should Know About Sleep Disorders And Problems

Do you often find yourself wide awake after the end of a long and tiring day? You know you’re tired, but you just can’t seem to fall asleep. Why is this? Unfortunately, you might suffer from a sleep disorder or problem. They aren’t uncommon and can stem from something as simple as stress or something as big as another underlying disorder.

See related article: Exploding Head Syndrome and Everything You Need to Know

Maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up repeatedly in the middle of the night even though you’re on a comfortable mattress and your bedroom is at the ideal temperature. This is another sign of a sleep disorder or problem. Read what we uncovered after much research and maybe talk to your doctor if you think you may have a sleep disorder.

Understanding Sleep

Sleep is an important part of your day. You spend roughly one-third of your life sleeping. You should be getting it at the right times during the day and it should be of good quality. Without sleep, you aren’t going to function right. Sleep is important for how your brain works. This is a complex and dynamic process that has an effect on how you function.

You may want to read: Know About Sleep Regression Stages

— Sleep Stages

There are two types of basic sleep which are REM and non-REM. Each one is linked to specific brain waves and neuronal activity.

Stage 1This non-REM sleep is the transition from being awake to being asleep. This period of time is also known as “light sleep”. Your eye movements, heartbeat, and breathing all slow down and your muscles will begin to twitch. Your brain waves will then slow down from their wakefulness patterns.

Stage 2This stage of non-REM sleep is the period of sleep in which you are transitioning from light to heavy sleep. Your muscles will relax even more and your body temperature will drop. Your brainwaves will still show brief bursts of electrical activity and you will spend more of your repeated sleep cycles in this stage.

Stage 3This stage of non-REM sleep is the type that you need in order to feel refreshed in the morning. This occurs longer on the first part of the night. This is when your heartbeat and breathing is the slowest. In this stage, you are most difficult to be awakened.

REMThis occurs around 90-minutes after you fall asleep. Your eyes will move rapidly from side to side. Your breathing will become quicker and more irregular while both your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near awake levels. Most of your dreams are going to happen during this time and your arm and leg muscles become paralyzed for a short period of time.

 

Sleep Disorders

No matter whether you occasionally have issues sleeping or you’re living with a sleep disorder, you can change it if you learn how to manage your condition. Here are some disorders that can really cause a ruckus in your life:

— Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is a disorder that causes your breathing to stop and start while you are sleeping. It can affect 4% of men and 2% of women, but only 10% of people actually get help for it and most others remain undiagnosed. This is a common sleep disorder that affects about 20-million people throughout the United States. While you are sleeping, your throat muscles relax and it causes you to snore. It could also completely collapse, causing your breathing to stop completely. There could also be a sagging in your throat tissue, which constricts and narrows the airway.

The causes of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Smoking
  • Natural cause
  • Age
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight

There could also be complications from OSA from medications or surgery. If you take sedatives, narcotic analgesics, or general anesthetics, they could relax your muscles even more, worsening your condition.

Symptoms of OSA include:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Frequent breathing breaks
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Restless sleep
  • Snoring
  • Morning headaches

Treatments you can get are from a CPAP machine, APAP machine, BiPAP machine, oral appliances, and even surgery. You can also do some tongue exercises to try to strengthen the muscles.

— Insomnia

I know what it’s like to live with insomnia and trust me, it’s not something you ever want to deal with. This is a disorder that is recognized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Those who suffer from this may experience:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night
  • Having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Feeling tired once awake

There are two types of insomnia which includes primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia means that the person doesn’t have any other health conditions or problems that can be directly associated with the condition. Secondary insomnia means the person does have health issues that are causing the problem such as medications, heartburn, arthritis, cancer, depression, and others. Those who suffer from it all of the time have chronic insomnia and those who only have it on occasion are acute.

The causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Discomfort both emotionally and physically
  • Certain medications
  • Interferences in normal sleep
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

The symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Tiredness
  • Issues with concentration or memory
  • Irritability

Diagnosing insomnia may include an exam, medical history study, and a sleep history evaluation. You may be asked to keep a diary for a few weeks to keep track of your sleep patterns and how you feel throughout the day. In more severe cases, you may be referred to a center for sleep tests. This condition can be treated with as little as good sleep habits to sleeping pills for a limited time. Good habits for insomnia can be as simple as trying to go to bed at the same time each night, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, not using electronic devices at night, following a routine, avoiding using your bed for anything other than sleep and sex, etc.

— Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

This is simply a disruption is somebody’s circadian rhythm. It is an internal body clock that regulates the 24-hour cycle of the biological processes. These are patterns of brain waves, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other activities that are linked to this cycle. Your rhythm can be disrupted due to:

  • Shift work
  • Pregnancy
  • Changes in routine
  • Mental health problems
  • Medical problems
  • Medications
  • Time zone changes

The most common disorders that come with this are:

— Jet Lag:

This consists of symptoms that include daytime sleepiness and alertness in those who travel across time zones. Shift Work Sleep Disorder: This is caused by frequent rotating shifts or work at night.

— Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome:

You will see this is those who have an issue with sleep timing. Those who suffer from this will fall asleep very late at night and can’t wake up in the morning for work, school, or other activities.

— Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome: 

This disorder causes people to fall asleep really early and wake up earlier than expected. This will result in sleepiness in the evening and going to bed earlier than normal.

— Non 24-hour Sleep Wake Disorder:

This affects those who are blind and since the circadian clock is set by light and dark, it will result in dramatically reduced sleep time and quality. These can be treated based on the kind of disorder that you are diagnosed with. Some of them can include sleep hygiene techniques, light therapy, adjusting bedtimes, chronotherapy, and more.

— Narcolepsy

If you have this disorder, you’ll know it. This is a neurological disorder that pretty much leaves you out of control of your own wakefulness and sleep. Those with this disorder will experience excessive sleepiness and uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep. This can happen any time during the day. 

The cause of this condition is still unknown, but there has been progress made in identifying the genes that are most associated with the disorder. These genes control the chemical production in the brain that may signal sleep and wake cycles. Some think that it is due to a deficiency in the production of hypocretin. 

Symptoms of this include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Cataplexy
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep paralysis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for narcolepsy and the most disabling symptoms can be controlled with drug treatments.

Other Sleep Problems

— Bedwetting

There are other sleep problems and sleep disorders. These can be mild to severe, but they aren’t as bad as the previous ones that I have discussed.

Bedwetting is due to not being able to hold in urine throughout the night, producing a large amount of urine at night, poor toilet habits, age, and other medical conditions. You could also suffer from diabetes, a UTI, structural or anatomical abnormality, neurological problems, and emotional problems that can cause such an inconvenient and embarrassing issue. If you have a bedwetting problem or have a child that does, a waterproof mattress protector would be a good option for you to ensure that your mattress remains safe.

— Night Terrors

My son used to suffer from these when he was a child and they were very scary to watch. He was a surgical patient from the ages of 5 days to 3-years old. A few causes of night terrors include stressful or traumatic events, fever, sleep deprivation, and medications that affect the brain. During a night terror, a person will sit up in bed and scream. They will appear to be awake, but they really aren’t. They may be confused, unresponsive, and disoriented.

— Nightmares

Nightmares are terrifying dreams that you have during sleep both during childhood and adulthood.. They are more common among children, but adults have them too. They are realistic and disturbing dreams that cna rattle you awake from sleep. They can cause your heart to pound in fear and happen during REM sleep. These can be caused by having late night snacks, certain medications, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and more. They can also be caused by sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

— Sleepwalking

This is a disorder that causes people to get up and walk around while they sleep. They can also drive and cook without knowing it. This usually happens when a person is transitioning from deep sleep to a lighter stage of sleep. They can’t respond and will most likely not remember that they did what they did. Causes of it include being sleep deprived, stress, being drunk, certain medications, and a chaotic sleep schedule.

— Teeth Grinding

My husband does this and it drives me absolutely bonkers! When teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, it can be damaging and cause other complications such as TMJ pain. People do this because they may be stressed out, have an abnormal bite, have crooked or missing teeth, or have other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. It can be prevented by the use of a mouth guard that your dentist can give you.

You may be interested in: Best Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding

— Snoring

Another thing that my husband does that drives me crazy!  Snoring is caused by an obstruction of the mouth and nose. Snoring can be caused by obstructed nasal airways, poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue, large throat tissue, and long soft palate or uvula. There are also several health risks that come with snoring such as frequent waking from sleep, lighter sleeping, poor sleep, strain on the heart, and interruptions of breathing. Click here for some natural remedies that can help you overcome your snoring.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s a pretty big list of sleep disorders and other sleep problems. This honestly just hits the tip of the iceberg. Fortunately, for most of the conditions there is a cure. You won’t have to live with it forever. If it doesn’t have an immediate cure, there are certainly approaches that can be taken to lessen the effects of it. If you think that you or somebody you know may suffer from a sleep disorder, get yourself or them to the doctors for an evaluation.