Over 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, yet many remain undiagnosed and untreated.
There are about 85 known sleep disorders. The most common are sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome. The National Sleep Foundation describes five main types of sleep disorders:
• Sleep-related breathing disorders (e,g, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea)
• Excessive daytime sleepiness disorders (e.g. narcolepsy)
• Circadian rhythm disorders (disruptions to the internal body clock)
• Sleep-related movement disorders (e.g. restless leg syndrome)
• Sleep behavior disorders (people act out while asleep)
Sleep Apnea / Obstructive Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea stop or pause their breathing while they sleep, dozens or hundreds of times each night. When this happens, you may snore loudly or making choking noises as you try to breathe. This potentially life–threatening condition often causes loud snoring and feeling tired after a full night’s sleep. Age and obesity are the main risk factors and the condition is more common in men, but many younger people who are within a normal weight range are also at risk. Untreated chronic sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea can lead to stroke or a heart attack as the brain does not get enough oxygen during sleep.
Take our free screening questionnaire to determine your risk of sleep apnea.
While snoring is one of the primary symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, it does not necessarily mean the snorer has sleep apnea. Many people snore even though they continue breathing normally during sleep. Snoring is caused when soft tissues in the airway relax, which makes them vibrate. Like sleep apnea, snoring is a treatable condition.
Millions of people suffer from an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. The condition may be related to anxiety, depression, chronic illness, poor sleep habits, lack of exercise or certain medications. Insomnia can affect people of all ages but is most common among teenagers and adults. Untreated insomnia can sap your energy and mood along with your health, work performance and quality of life. Some adults experience short-term (acute) insomnia, which can last for days or weeks. This is often the result of stress or a traumatic experience. Some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia that lasts for months or years.
Narcolepsy is also referred to as excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness, or hypersomnia. This uncommon sleep disorder causes overwhelming drowsiness that makes you fall asleep at inappropriate times in inappropriate places. Narcolepsy is defined as a chronic neurological disorder, which affects your brain's ability to control circadian rhythms or sleep-wake cycles. Narcolepsy sufferers often feel rested after waking, but very sleepy throughout much of the day. They may also experience uneven and interrupted sleep patterns.
This category of sleep disorders involve abnormal behaviors, emotions, movements, perceptions and even dreams that occur while you are falling asleep, sleeping, in between sleep stages or when waking from sleep. Nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking and sleep paralysis are all related to parasomnias.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder / Restless Limb Syndrome
Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, most typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds. If you have PLMS you may recognize these movements as brief muscle twitches, jerking movements or an upward flexing of the feet. They cluster into episodes lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
PLMS can be a contributing factor in chronic insomnia and/or daytime fatigue because they may cause you to awaken during the night. Occasionally, PLMS may be an indicator of a serious medical condition such as kidney disease, diabetes or anemia. An in-lab sleep study (polysomnogram) can diagnose PLMS and put you on the path to treatment.
Restless Limb Syndrome, also called restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition that affects approximately 10% of the American population and causes an unpleasant, itchy, pins and needles or spider-crawling sensation as you are falling asleep, and a strong urge to move your legs or other body parts to relieve the feeling. This sleep disorder can be quite mild or completely intolerable. People of all ages can have RLS, but those most severely affected are middle-aged or older. RLS also affects more women than men.