Sleep apnea is a serious and common sleep disorder affecting about 12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its name comes from a Greek word, apnea, meaning "without breath." People with sleep apnea stop breathing briefly many times during the night. The breathing pauses last at least 10 seconds, and there may be 20 to 30 or more pauses per hour.
The main symptoms of sleep apnea are persistent loud snoring at night and daytime sleepiness. Another symptom is frequent long pauses in breathing during sleep, followed by choking and gasping for breath. People with sleep apnea don't get enough restful sleep, and their daytime performance is often seriously affected. Sleep apnea may also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. However, it can be diagnosed and treated.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder in which a person has unpleasant feelings or sensations in the legs. These feelings are described as creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling, or painful. While these sensations happen most often in the calf or lower leg area, they can be felt anywhere from the ankle to the upper thigh. RLS symptoms can occur in one or both legs and can also be felt in the arms. These symptoms occur most often when lying down, but can also occur when sitting for long periods of time, such as at a desk, riding in a car, or watching a movie. People with RLS talk about having an irresistible urge to move the legs. Moving the legs, walking, rubbing or massaging the legs, or doing knee bends can bring relief, at least for a short time.
Unlike other conditions, RLS symptoms get worse when relaxing or lessening activity, particularly during the evening and nighttime sleeping hours. Many people with RLS have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. If not treated, RLS can cause extreme tiredness and daytime fatigue. A person's job, personal life and daily activities can be strongly affected due to exhaustion. A person can have memory loss and lose their ability to focus.
It is not unusual to have sleep troubles from time to time. But, if you feel that you do not get enough sleep or satisfying sleep, you may have insomnia, a sleep disorder. People with insomnia have one or more of the following:
• difficulty falling asleep
• waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
• waking up too early in the morning
• unrefreshing sleep
Insomnia can cause problems during the day, such as sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. A person with insomnia may also have another sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome. Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours you sleep every night. The amount of sleep a person needs varies. While most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, some people do well with less, and some need more.
About 60 million Americans each year suffer from insomnia, which can lead to serious sleep deficits and problems. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men.
Narcolepsy is a chronic, or long-lasting, sleep disorder with no known cause. It affects the body's central nervous system, which is made up of nerves that carry messages from the brain to other parts of the body. When a person has narcolepsy, messages about when to sleep and when to be awake can get mixed up. This can cause a person to fall asleep when they do not want to, and often without any warning like feeling drowsy.
The desire to sleep can be overwhelming and hard to resist, and can happen to a person several times during the day. Night sleep may also be poor, broken up by waking up often during the night. If not controlled with medication, narcolepsy can cause serious problems in a person's personal, social, and work life. It can also limit a person's activities, such as driving a car, work, and exercising. Studies indicate that narcolepsy may run in families.
Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth, most often at night. Teeth grinding isn't something most people are aware they are doing: many people only become aware they are "bruxers" when their dentist notices signs of tooth or jaw damage caused by the disorder.
Nocturnal teeth grinding is one of the most common sleep disorders: thirty to forty million Americans brux on a nightly basis. 5 - 10% percent of bruxers clench or grind their teeth so forcefully that teeth are damaged and jaw problems, such as TMJ disorder, develop.
Some of the remaining more common sleep disorders are:
Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome - sleeps and wakes too early; usually in aging adults
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome - sleeps and wakes too late, usually in teens
Fibromyalgia - muscular pain affecting sleep, usually in women
Gastroesophageal Reflux - heartburn and regurgitation of stomach contents during sleep
Idiopathic Hypersomnia - extreme daytime sleepiness and extreme difficulty awakening from sleep and post-awakening confusion
Inadequate Sleep Hygiene - bad sleep habits that keep your sleep from being refreshing
Jet Lag - disturbed sleep, decreased alertness and impaired daytime function due to time zone travel
Nightmares - frightening dreams that can be recalled
Nocturnal Enuresis - chronic bedwetting
Nocturnal Hyperphagia - eating while asleep
Panic Disorder - awakening with chest pain that brings on panic attacks
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder - limb movements while sleeping that disrupt sleep patterns
REM Behavior Disorder - acting out dreams with limb movements while asleep
Rhythmic Movement Disorder - repetitive, and sometime harmful, movements during sleep (headbanging, bodyrocking, headrolling, etc.)
Shiftwork Sleep Disorder - sleep problems occurring from change of sleep cycle
Sleep Hyperhidrosis - extreme sweating while asleep
Sleep Paralysis - inability to move upon awakening
Sleep Terrors - frightening dreams that can't be remembered
Somnambulism - walking/performing activities while asleep
Somniloquy - talking during sleep