Sleep disorders are negative changes in the sleep patterns of an individual. As a result of the disruption in the sleep pattern, sleep disorders usually have telling effects on the emotional, physical, social and mental health of the affected person. Lack of concentration in school, unproductive work schedules, impaired social relationship, incessant unhealthy feelings, mental breakdown and irregular behavioral patterns are some of the things often experienced by the affected person as attention, mood, energy and overall health become severely impaired.
To have full understanding of the symptoms, causes and treatments of sleep disorders, there is need for us to know the types of sleep disorders available. The common types of sleep disorders are:
- Insomnia: This is the inability of a person to fall asleep or sleep for enough time.
- Narcolepsy: Falling asleep suddenly or excessive sleepiness during the day when one ought to be active.
- Sleep apnea: This involves abnormal or irregular breathing pattern when asleep.
- Sleep paralysis: This is the loss of the ability to move the body when just awake.
- Bruxism: This is the act of grinding teeth incessantly when asleep. It can lead to injury in different parts of the body such as tongue and jaw.
- Sleepwalking: Sleepwalking is a sleep-wake state in which a sleeping person walks around unconsciously.
- Bedwetting: This is habitual urination when asleep. Notably, bedwetting is normal in children under the age of 6.
- Restless leg disorder: This has to do with an extreme urge to move legs while asleep.
Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
- Difficulty in initiating or sustaining sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Incessant waking up after sleeping
- Difficulty in falling asleep after waking up
- Irregular breathing pattern while sleeping
Causes of Sleep Disorders
Since there are different kinds of sleep disorders, their causes are also numerous. The common causes of sleep disorders are:
- Stress: This is the emotional pressure felt by a person due to physical or emotional activities.
- Respiratory disorders: When the respiratory system becomes affected by any disorder, the pattern of breathing while asleep may become irregular. This is specifically true in the case of sleep apnea.
- Persistent pain: Constant headache, back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia and so on are some of the unpleasant feelings that can lead to difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep.
- Frequent urination (Nocturia): If there are persistent needs for a person to wake up to pass urine while asleep in the night, sleep pattern will be disrupted.
Notably, some of these causes of sleep disorders can be symptoms of other underlying health problems. Frequent urination, for instance, can be due to prostate gland disorder, hormonal imbalance or diabetes.
Treatment of Sleep Disorders
- Modifications of lifestyle such as reduced intake of caffeinated foods or drinks, improved stress management, changes in work schedule, and avoiding smoking, alcohols and drugs.
- Sleeping pills, melatonin supplements and other medications can be used to relieve the symptoms of sleep disorders.
- Use of special equipments such as dental guard for bruxism and breathing devices for sleep apnea.
- Other treatments like music therapy, hypnosis therapy and meditation can also be used to treat sleep disorders.