The clinical definition of a sleeping disorder is a disruptive pattern of sleep that may include difficulty in falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.
There are four basic categories that each sleeping disorder can be put into:
insomnia, hypersomnia, sleep disruptive disorders, and basic trouble with adhering to a normal sleep pattern.
Some symptoms of having a sleeping disorder are: difficulty in falling asleep, daytime drowsiness, loud snoring, fatigue, depression, anxiety and lower leg movements during sleep.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person’s breathing stops during sleep for 10 seconds or more, sometimes more than 300 times a night.
There are two main types of sleep apnea. The first is Obstructive Sleep Apnea which may represent the stoppage of breathing due to a mechanical blockage of the airway.
The second is Central Sleep Apnea which appears to be related to a malfunction of the brain’s normal signal to breathe.
Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea may include restless sleep, loud and heavy snoring which is often interrupted by silence and then gasps, falling asleep while driving or when the person is at work or at home while watching TV, morning headaches, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, and mood or behavioral changes.
Snoring is usually associated with apnea. Snoring is defined as noisy breathing one occurs during sleep when the flow of air through the airways is blocked or when the airways vibrate during breathing.
Several factors tend to make people snore: nasal congestion, being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol before bedtime, and sleeping on your back. Sleeping pills, painkillers and other drugs that cause drowsiness can also make snoring more likely.
Because a person is not able to sleep well or not get good nights sleep, some doctors are now conducting research to see how Apnea manifests insomnia since both interferes with the daytime functioning o f a person.
Some causes which still have to be confirmed are the certain medicines available in the market to treat such disorder; medical conditions, excess stress, or poor sleep habits can all affect the quality of your sleep.
To check if a person has a sleeping disorder, a diagnosis is made by a physician specially trained in sleep medicine.
After a physical examination of the upper airway and an interview with lots of questions, if it the tests have determined that the patient has a sleeping disorder, one will have to undergo a polysomnogram (sleep test).
Most sleep centers and labs monitor 16 different sleep parameters including EEG, EKG, eye movement, chin movement, air flow, chest effort, abdomen effort, SaO2, snoring and leg movement. Each parameter serves to help the physician make a correct diagnosis.
Test are conducted in a sleep room much like a motel room. A technician will paste electrodes at certain points on your head, face, body and legs. Those electrodes will be hooked to monitoring equipment that will record the entire night study.
Most patients do not experience anxiety or difficulty in going to sleep. The patients in most case are extremely sleepy and will be asleep in just a few minutes.
Once a correct diagnosis has been made, the doctor may recommend a variety of treatments available for those that suffer from sleep apnea, including medications, behavioral therapy, and, in extreme cases, surgery.
Although over-the-counter sleep aids may be helpful it is not advisable to use these products on a regular basis. These sleep aids don’t eliminate the problem but only provide temporary relief and may become less effective after a few days of use.
Doctors however often recommend a prescription device called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for patients with sleep apnea.
During sleep, the patient wears a mask that fits over the nose.
The mask is attached to an air compressor adjusted to blow enough air through the nose to keep the airway open.
If a CPAP device doesn’t help, then surgery on the upper airway may be the last resort.
By developing good sleeping habits, one may be able to break the pattern of sleeplessness without needing other therapies.
Good habits include going to bed and waking up at a regular time, eliminating naps, and avoiding stimulation from exercise or caffeine shortly before bedtime.
Relaxation techniques and changes in diet can also help some people.