practice tests for and treats all forms of sleep disorders. The
following information highlights some of the more common.
Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)
Leg Movements in Sleep (PLMS)
Leg Syndrome (RLS)
100 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, yet very few
people know the symptoms or the serious, potentially life threatening
dangers of some of these conditions. Beyond an occasional night
when you might have trouble falling asleep, sleep disorders can
affect your health and well-being more than most people realize.
With at least 84 known types of sleep disorders, people who have
sleep disorders experience diminished health, a lower quality of
life and can become public safety risks due to the effects on driving
and industrial accidents.
many sleep disorders, even serious ones, if diagnosed properly can
be effectively treated so that you needn't suffer from their ill
you or someone you care for suffers from one or more of the following
symptoms, it may be the cause of, or the result of, a sleep disorder.
up feeling tired
the need to sleep more than 7-8 hours a day
to severe depression
find out of you have a sleep disorder and what type, it is important
that you have a thorough examination by a physician trained in sleep
disorders and possibly one or more types of tests.
Apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing for
short and often frequent periods during sleep. This prevents the
person from getting a good night's sleep and can lead to many other
serious problems. It is rare for the person with sleep apnea to
know that they have it. There are three main types of sleep apnea:
obstructive, central and mixed. "Obstructive" sleep apnea,
the most common form, is when the airway becomes physically blocked,
usually by a relaxation of the throat muscles or tissue. "Central"
sleep apnea, the least common, is caused when the brain fails to
send the correct signals to the body to continue breathing. "Mixed"
sleep apnea is a combination of the two causes.
Apnea is very treatable, but the type and severity of your condition
must be evaluated by your doctor before the proper treatment plan
can be determined.
is a disorder in which the person has problems either falling asleep,
staying asleep or both. Anyone of any age can experience insomnia.
It is more common, however, among women and older adults. You might
experience insomnia for as little as one night or for years. Three
terms used to describe insomnia are "transient" (insomnia
lasting a few days up to one month), "short-term" (lasting
between one and six months) and "chronic" (lasting longer
than six months). Over 20 million Americans suffer from chronic
things, or a combination of things, can cause insomnia. Among these
are stress (of any kind), anxiety, depression, chronic pain, the
use of stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, the use of alcohol,
keeping erratic hours, shift work, jet lag, lack of physical activity,
misuse or over-use of sleeping pills, sleep apnea, involuntary leg
or arm movements, gastrointestinal reflux (commonly called heartburn)
and environmental factors such as noise and light in the sleeping
area. There is also a type of insomnia called "learned"
insomnia where after just a few nights of having trouble sleeping
your body starts to associate your bedtime rituals (getting into
your pajamas, brushing your teeth, turning off the lights, getting
under the covers) with not sleeping, so that these routine activities
actually inhibit your falling asleep.
sleep apnea, most people with insomnia know they are having sleep
problems, Insomnia has many treatment options and you should seek
proper diagnosis and treatment from your physician if your insomnia
lasts for more than four weeks or if it is severe enough to be interfering
with your life or public safety, such as being able to concentrate
on important tasks such as driving, work, etc.
Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) is often the result of other
sleep disorders, but is a disorder in its own right. Its symptoms
are an overwhelming desire to sleep during what should be waking
hours, the need for frequent naps, the inability to concentrate,
falling asleep during meetings, class, at work or driving. People
find that EDS can interfere with their ability to be productive
and maintain healthy social relationships. They sometimes feel low
self-esteem, frustration, and anger at oneself caused by the disorder
and are sometimes misunderstood as being lazy or unintelligent.
Treatment of EDS starts with proper diagnosis of the underlying
causes of these symptoms.
is a chronic neurological disorder that most notably causes sufferers
to suddenly fall asleep or lose muscle control (such as getting
weak in the knees or experiencing a complete body collapse) at often
inappropriate and sometimes unsafe times, such as while driving,
walking, eating. Other symptoms include the inability to talk or
move when waking or falling asleep, vivid and sometimes unpleasant
dreamlike experiences while dozing or falling asleep, inability
to remember doing routine tasks, difficulty staying asleep, and
memory or learning difficulties.
can pose great safety and lifestyle risks to the sufferer, so someone
with these symptoms should be evaluated by a physician.
Leg Movements in Sleep (PLMS)
is a disorder in which a sufferer's legs twitch or go through repetitive
movements every 20-40 seconds during episodes lasting a few minutes
to several hours while sleeping. Often sufferers are not aware of
the condition. They will likely complain of symptoms such as insomnia,
excessive daytime sleepiness, or feeling tired when they wake up.
exact cause of PLMS is not known and it is not harmful except to
the extent that the side effects such as feeling tired are bothersome.
However, if you think you might have PLMS you should get it evaluated
as this disorder can be an indicator of serious medical conditions
such as diabetes, anemia or kidney problems. This disorder also
commonly responds well to several classes of prescription medication.
Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder that causes uncomfortable
leg sensations such as a creeping or crawling feeling, burning,
tingling or cramping of the legs or feet that occur continually
while your body is at rest. This causes the sufferer to want to
move, stretch or rub their legs to get rid of the sensation. The
discomfort and resulting tossing and turning keeps the sufferer
from getting a good night's sleep and so they experience daytime
fatigue, sleepiness and many other symptoms similar to that of insomnia.
4 million people suffer from RLS and it has been associated with
anemia, diabetes, pregnancy, nerve damage, sciatica, arthritis and
alcoholism as well as Period Leg Movements in Sleep (PLMS). The
symptoms range from bothersome to incapacitating. Treatment for
this disorder includes the use of several classes of prescription
Rhythm Disruption is a man-made, but no less troublesome
disorder resulting from changes in a person's sleeping patterns,
such as those caused by shift work, jet lag, and other changes in
your routine that cause you to be "thrown off" your normal
daily schedule. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, memory and
concentration problems, poor job performance, stomach and digestive
problems, menstrual irregularities, high blood pressure, heart problems,
increased susceptibility to colds and flu, and weight gain.
25 million Americans have non-standard work hours. Circadian Rhythm
Disruption is not hard to diagnose and could cause health and safety
problems if not treated. A sleep disorder specialist can help you
with strategies for dealing with the need to have shifting work
Should You Do?
you think you may have a sleep disorder, it is important to seek
medical attention. Sleep disorders can cause severe problems for
the sufferer, can be symptoms of other serious, even life-threatening
medical disorders, and many sleep disorders can be effectively treated.
the best place to start is with your Primary Care Physician. They
will do an initial evaluation and will be able to either help you
with treatment for the sleep disorder and/or underlying causes or
refer you to one or more specialists or testing facilities.
medical specialists most often involved with more complex sleep
disorder evaluation and treatment are neurologists and otolaryngologists
(ear, nose and throat physicians). Some of these specialists even
have sub-specialties in sleep disorders.
disorders can be diagnosed and treatment prescribed with a simple
office visit. Others may require blood, urine, neurological or sleep
is a Sleep Lab?
A sleep lab is a facility where you are carefully monitored while
you sleep by a special sleep technician. Some sleep lab tests are
performed while you sleep during the day and others while you sleep
at night, depending on the condition suspected. Sensors attached
to you while you sleep monitor all your brain and muscle activity,
breathing, eye movements, dream patterns, heart rate and rhythm.
You are also observed and/or video taped while you sleep so the
doctor can later compare your visible body activity with the sensor
data collected. The results of this type of testing can help your
doctor determine not only what type of sleep disorder you have but
also help determine and refine the appropriate treatment plan.