Sleep Disorder Types

Millions of people all over the world suffer from sleep disorders. There are numerous types of sleep disorders with different causes and sleep disorder symptoms. What they all share in common is that these sleep disorders interfere with the normal sleep cycle and the ability to get restful sleep.

There are many things that keep people awake at night. Sometimes, not being able to sleep is caused by something as simple as stress, which can usually be easily addressed. Other times, the problem is not so simple, and there may be a sleep disorder or other condition that is stopping the person from getting the proper sleep they need.

Insomnia and Sleep Deprivation

Insomnia is most simply defined as the inability to sleep adequately, either in quality or length, in spite of having the opportunity to sleep. Sleep deprivation on the other hand refers to curtailed sleep length caused by an imposed restriction on the opportunity to sleep. The symptoms and effects of sleep deprivation and insomnia are similar.

Breathing Disorders That Disrupt Sleep

Snoring and sleep apnea are both caused by difficulty breathing during sleep. Because many of the symptoms of sleep related disorders only manifest themselves while the person is asleep, many people do not even realize that they have a problem. They may only become aware of the disorder by the presence of its effects during the day or it may be noticed by a partner or while under observation in a sleep clinic.

Snoring – Snoring is a noise that is made when the soft palate and the uvula vibrate when they are relaxed while the person is sleeping. There are many stop-snoring remedies, including simply sleeping in a different position. Snoring is a condition that is often caused by other health problems, such as allergies and even the common cold, and can often be easily treated. Snoring may wake the snorer or their partner, lowering the quality of their sleep and causing the symptoms of sleep deprivation and insomnia.

Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea is a condition that actually causes sufferers to stop breathing during sleep. This can occur as often as hundreds of times a night. Sleep apnea happens when the palate, uvula and tongue relax during sleep, and fall back, blocking off the airway. Each time breathing is interrupted the person wakes up, stopping the normal sleep cycle and limiting the ability to get restful sleep.

Limb Movement Disorders That Disrupt Sleep

There are a number of sleep disorders that involve pain or movement in the limbs. Many people experience leg cramps when they are sleeping, or trying to get to sleep, which can keep them awake for hours. There are a lot of people who suffer from leg cramps who just chalk them up to being simple muscle cramps, but, these pains could be symptoms of something more serious, and should be evaluated by a physician.

One of the most common forms of limb movement disorder that can be very disruptive of sleep is restless leg syndrome, or RLS. This is a condition that is not usually painful, although some sufferers do experience pain in their legs.

Many people with restless leg syndrome complain of feeling like there are insects crawling beneath their skin or of a tingling sensation. Restless leg syndrome is a condition that can quickly lead to insomnia, as it keeps people awake, sometimes for hours, or even all night long.

Other Types of Sleep Disorders

There are several other types of sleep disorders that also cause a number of unwanted side-effects. Some of the more common sleep disorders include narcolepsy (falling asleep even while doing tasks), sleep paralysis, jet lag, teeth grinding, sleep-related eating disorders (some people actually eat while sleeping, and sometimes, they eat dangerous things, including metal and glass). Other sleep disorders are hypersomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, sleepwalking and nightmares/night terrors.

The Physical and Psychological Effects of Sleep Disorders

When people suffer from sleep disorders, they often end up with other physical and psychological problems. If you are suffering from a sleep disorder, you may experience some or all of the following:

  • Inability to perform simple tasks
  • Inability to remember things
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Moodiness
  • Oversleeping

Treatment of Sleep Disorders

There are a number of ways to treat the various types of sleep disorders, and depending on the disorder, treatment may only involve simple lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, quitting smoking, and not reading or watching television in bed. Other ways to improve sleep, known as sleep hygiene include:

  • Creating an environment optimal for sleep with no disruptive sounds or lights.
  • Using a noise machine that emits a low sound, similar to white noise that you would hear when a television station goes off the air.

Sleep Disorders Summary

There are many other treatments available for sleep disorders. The first step is to identify what sleep disorder you may have by evaluating your sleep disorder symptoms. Once you have identified your sleeping problem and begun the right treatment for your sleep disorder, you will get the benefits of healthy sleep once again.

Essential further reading:

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