Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys a restless eight hours of slumber every single night. In fact, over 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder. Those who get insufficient sleep not only experience fatigue but also are more prone to mood swings, irritability, poor memory, and reduced attention span. Sleep disorders can negatively impact people’s personal and professional lives, causing them to struggle at work or school and even in maintaining personal relationships.
On a wider scale, sleep deprivation and deficiency have enormous and far-reaching consequences. In 2016-17, inadequate sleep has been estimated to incur $26.2 billion in financial losses in Australia, as reported by the Sleep Health Foundation.
Whether you are well aware of your sleep disorder, are starting to think you may have one, or recently heard about it and want to learn more, here’s everything you wish to know about the symptoms and causes of sleep disorders, as well as possible treatments, in a nut shell.
The Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
Symptoms, although unfortunate, are key indicators that one suffers from a disorder or sickness. If you have experienced one or more of the following symptoms, you may have a sleep disorder.
- Sleeplessness during the night
- Excessive sleepiness and fatigue during day time
- Irregularities in sleep-wake cycle
- Urge to move while trying to sleep
- Falling asleep during inappropriate situations like driving
- You are prone to unusual behaviors that disrupt your sleep
Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep insomnia is the most noticeable and common sleep disorder. When one has immense difficulty falling asleep at night, as well as staying asleep throughout, they likely suffer from insomnia. And because of this, they never feel well-rested.
Insomnia can be of three types:
- Chronic – Insomnia that occurs at least 3 nights per week for 3 months or more.
- Intermittent – Periodically occurring insomnia
- Transient – Short-term insomnia that lasts from a few days to up to a week
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological condition that affects the brain’s control over sleep-wake cycles. This disorder causes one to have sudden attacks of sleep, and it can be especially dangerous for those who operate heavy machinery. While being completely awake and conscious, one suddenly falls asleep and even struggles with a sudden loss of muscle tone and/or hallucinations.
Although the symptoms of narcolepsy may appear on their own, it is also linked to certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
Obstructive is the key identifier when it comes to sleep apnea, for not every dad who snores struggles with this symptom. Instead, it is excessive, and even abrasive or painful, snoring, along with daytime sleepiness.
Some people believe they just deal with sleepwalking, but it can be a symptom of a sleep disorder. Especially if it happens frequently or almost every night, sleepwalking often takes place in the first one to two hours of falling asleep, and it can sometimes accompany unusual behavior.
What Causes a Sleep Disorder?
If you notice you have one or more symptoms of a sleep disorder, it is important you determine the cause of it so you can remedy the problem. One potential cause of a sleep disorder is the physical factor, such as obesity and chronic pain. Psychiatric causes include depression, anxiety and other disorders that create or establish a sleep disorder. Genetics may also lead to a sleep disorder, especially if one’s biological parent suffers from a sleep disorder, too.
Other causes of sleep deficiency include allergies and illnesses such as cold or flu. Certain medications can trigger side effects that can disrupt a person’s sleep quality and quantity. Lifestyle or behavioral factors such as pulling all-nighters while working studying, or partying late into the night, or late-night shifts etc. can all have devastating effects on one’s sleep. Left unremedied, these issues can snowball into sleep disorders.
Possible Treatments to Restore Your Sleep
First and foremost, it is crucial to consult with your doctor to find the right, most effective treatment for you. A wide range of solutions can resolve your sleep disorder and ensure you begin getting a full eight hours. The proper medication can potentially fix the sleep disorder when appropriately diagnosed. Another solution is to resolve any underlying conditions that may be causing the sleep disorder.
If it has been determined anxiety is causing your sleep disorder, discuss your anxiety with a psychologist, potentially see a therapist and begin taking medication if prescribed.
For those who suffer from sleep apnea, an oral appliance, such as one from SomnoMed, can also remedy the disorder.
Finally, practicing sleep hygiene habits, cutting down sugar intake, regular exercising, and actively reducing stress are some lifestyle changes that can set you on the track towards improving your sleep quality.
Regardless of the symptom, cause or possible treatment, sleep disorders are a serious issue and should be addressed accordingly. If you suffer from a sleep disorder, discuss it with a healthcare professional to find the right treatment for you.