All You Need to Know about Sleeping Disorders

July 25, 2016

One of the most common causes of fatigue is a person’s lack of sleep. This common occurrence can happen to anybody, young or old. There are more than a hundred different types of sleeping disorders including difficulty in sleeping, problems with excessive daytime sleepiness, and abnormal behavior during sleep. Sleeping disorders have observable symptoms. Whether you are working in a business that provides elderly care services in Chicago or you are not knowledgeable about sleeping problems at all, you can easily identify sleeping disorders once you know the symptoms. Do not worry because they can be easily abated.

All about Somnipathy

Somnipathy, or sleep disorders, are disrupted sleeping patterns. Experiencing this will not just make you sleepy throughout the day; it can also have negative repercussions on your energy level, emotional balance, and overall health. Sleeping disorders are caused by a range of factors that may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Illness
  • other factors

Persons with sleeping disorders commonly exhibit behaviors such as:

  • irritable or sleepy during the day
  • difficulty in keeping awake while sitting still, watching television, or reading
  • constantly falling asleep or feeling very tired
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • often appear tired
  • slow to react
  • emotional
  • feel the necessity of daily naps
  • require caffeine or energy booster to keep awake

Somnipathy can be generalized in three categories namely Lack of Sleep, Disturbed Sleep, and Excessive Sleep.

Lack of Sleep

Insomnia is the term used for the inability of a person to fall asleep or sleep well at night. It is the most common sleep disorder that most people occasionally experience. People suffering from insomnia feel tired most of the time and more often than not they worry about not getting ample amounts of sleep. Insomnia may be caused by some psychological issues such as emotional distress, anxiety/depression, bipolar disorder, life stress, anger, worry, trauma, or grief. It may also be caused by medical problems such as acid reflux, kidney disease, chronic pain, or cancer. Prescription medications such as antidepressants, ADHD stimulants, corticosteroids, high blood pressure medications, thyroid hormone medications, as well as some contraceptives may also cause insomnia. Over-the-counter medications that may lead to insomnia include cold and flu medications, painkillers, diuretics, and slimming pills.

Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, is not a disorder. Rather, it is an indicator that the person has failed to get the right amount of sleep. Some indications of sleep deprivation include drowsiness during the day, falling asleep for short periods of time, and regularly falling asleep immediately after lying down. Inadequate amount of sleep may affect a person’s judgment, reaction-time, hand-eye coordination, memory, as well as an individual’s general health and well-being. In some cases, sleep deprivation may also damage the person’s immune system.


Disturbed Sleep

The most common type of disturbed sleep is sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder where breathing is interrupted; it is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. Its name came from the Greek word apnea meaning to breathe; it is a term used for the suspension of external breathing whether voluntarily achieved, drug induced, mechanically induced, or as a consequence of neurological disease or trauma.

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of airways when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses during sleep. On the other hand, central sleep apnea occurs when the central nervous system fails to tell the body to breathe. In most occasions, an individual only experiences one of the two types of sleep apnea. However, in some cases, both OSA and CSA are experienced by one single person.

Sleep apnea temporarily blocks the person’s upper airways and causes breathing to temporarily stop during sleep. This is usually characterized by the following:

  • Loud, chronic snoring in the case of OSA
  • Gasping, snorting, or choking in the case of CSA
  • Frequently waking up with shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, nasal congestion, or a dry throat
  • Fragmented sleep
  • Frequent pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Exhaustion after waking

People suffering from sleep apnea lose sleep due to the fact that every time their windpipe close they are deprived of oxygen, prompting them to immediately wake up to allow their muscles to contract and resume breathing. The result is continuous sleep interruption, as well as the lack of oxygen in the brain that can cause morning headaches and decreased mental function.

The restless legs syndrome (or Willis-Ekbom disease) and the periodic limb movement disorder are sleep disorders that older people commonly experience. This is a genetic disorder that results in a sort of prickly or tingling sensation in the legs or limbs, making a person want to move. This can lead to insomnia since each jerk or movement causes the person to awake.

Another disturbed sleep disorder is called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep behavior disorder. This causes disruptions in the brain during REM or during the dream phase. REM sleep behavior disorder occurs when an area of the brainstem, called the pons, send signals to the cerebral cortex ‘ the area of the brain responsible for thinking and organizing information. In result, people physically act out the dream images projected in their brains. This type of sleeping disorder is extremely rare.

Excessive Sleep

Narcolepsy is a genetic condition or disorder where a person involuntarily enters REM without going through the normal stages of sleep. People suffering from narcolepsy fall asleep abnormally and uncontrollably without prior warning for periods ranging from less than a minute to more than half an hour. Cataplexy, on the other hand, is weakness or paralysis of the muscles that may be triggered by tiredness or intense emotions. Meanwhile, sleep paralysis is the inability to move as you fall asleep or wake up; this usually lasts for a very brief period of time. Lastly, hypnagogic hallucinations are considered pre-sleep nightmares. These are vivid images or hallucinations that occur between the state of being awake and being asleep.

Sleeping disorders are easily diagnosed. It is an extremely important condition that needs the utmost treatment in order for the person to properly gain the right amount of sleep. It can immediately be treated if properly understood. With the right amount of relaxation and a proper lifestyle change, sleeping disorders can be fully abated.

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