Sleep Disorders are sweeping across the country like a viral social media post. In fact, The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that about 40 million people in the United States have some sort of sleep disorder. The problem is, most people will just assume that they have insomnia when they can’t sleep. While this may be true for some people, others may be suffering from one of the many other sleep disorders that are out there. Here are some of the most common sleep disorders that we suffer from here in the good ole’ US of A.
Insomnia: This is the most common sleep disorder. The life of an insomniac is plagued by great difficulty falling or staying asleep, and waking up earlier than desired. Most people experience these symptoms on occasion from stress or over-indulging in caffeine or other stimulants. This is considered to be acute insomnia and is completely normal. You must have these symptoms for at least three nights a week for at least a month to be a bona-fide insomniac. You also have to keep in mind that insomnia may be caused by another underlying health condition.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: According to the Center For Disease Control, (CDC) more than 20 million people in the United States have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The major problem with this condition is that more than 70% of people do not even know they have it. Even though Insomnia is more common than Obstructive Sleep Apnea, O.S.A. is the most common sleep disorder that is treated by Sleep clinics. This disorder is caused when soft tissues at the back of the throat completely block the airway when someone is sleeping, and as a result this person will completely stop breathing. In response to this, the brain receives signals to partially wake up so that the person can breathe again. Sleep Apnea patients can partially wake up numerous times an hour depending on the severity of their condition. This process happens subconsciously, so the majority of people who suffer from this disorder will think they still slept through the night even though they did not. That is why Sleep Apnea is one the most dangerous sleep disorders of them all; you don’t know you have it until it’s too late. You’re health’s demise is inevitable. Overweight or obese men over 40 years old with large necks are considered at high –risk for sleep apnea. There are several effective treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, including Oral Devices, Surgery, and CPAP therapy. CPAP therapy is by far the most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It is also the only treatment proven to work for everyone who can tolerate it. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It consists of a machine that blows air pressure while connected to CPAP mask. The sleep apnea patient wears the CPAP mask and it provides enough air Pressure to keep their airway open while sleeping, which in return allows them to breathe freely and sleep throughout the night.
Restless Leg Syndrome: This sleep disorder causes the individual to wake up during the night because their legs never feel comfortable while laying down. People with Restless Leg Syndrome feel an intense urge to move their legs in some type of way. The sensation experienced in the legs can be tingling, burning, or feeling as if something is crawling on the skin. Doctors are baffled by what causes this condition in most patients. A very small percentage of people experience R.L.S. because of anemia or pregnancy. Relaxation techniques, regular exercise, and maintaining a strict sleep schedule will help alleviate Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms.
Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy occurs when your brain is unable to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. As a result, narcoleptic people will experience sudden sleep attacks, sleep paralysis, insomnia, and dream-like hallucinations. People with disorder do not sleep longer than the average person. They just have no control of when they sleep. Narcolepsy also causes them to go directly into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep right away. REM sleep is the deepest stage of sleep when the muscles in the body are temporarily paralyzed. This condition takes the biggest emotional toll on the people who have it because it is very difficult for these people to find and maintain relationships. It also causes many narcoleptic individuals to become very insecure because they are very accident prone. Currently, there are no proven cures for narcolepsy but the good news is that there are treatments that can make patients live a life that is very close to normal. A combination of behavioral therapy and medication will significantly reduce the symptoms. This includes a regular exercise regimen, a routine sleep schedule, and several 10-15 minute naps throughout the day.
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