Do you always have a hard time sleeping? Do you wake up at odd times of the day and unable to return to sleep? Do you always wake up in the morning feeling as if you haven’t really slept? Do other members of the family complain and say you exhibit unusual behaviors while sleeping? If that is the case, then there might be an underlying problem.
Research suggests that there are about 80 million Americans who are suffering from sleep disorders. Although there are more than 70 recognized sleep problems, others are more common. Below, we list four usual sleep disorders that could possibly be affecting your quality of sleep.
One of the most common sleep disorders, insomnia has affected nearly 10% of the American population. It is characterized by difficulties in going to sleep at night, waking in the middle of the night and having troubles going back to sleep, and waking earlier than planned.
If you detect any of these symptoms, you could be an insomniac:
- You feel that you haven’t had enough sleep.
- You experience excessive sleepiness during the day.
- You lack energy at all times.
- Concentrating is such a difficult thing to do.
- You tend to be very aggressive and irritable.
- You become forgetful.
- You have troubles in your personal and business relationships.
- You seem clumsy and often get involved in accidents.
- Your quality of life appears to be deteriorating.
- You feel depressed.
How to Treat It
To treat insomnia, the best thing you have to do is to call your physician. Share with him your problem. If he knows a lot about sleep disorders, he can guide you in the next steps you have to take, which may usually include an assessment of your problem, further tests, or a referral to a specialist.
2. Sleep Apnea
The second most common sleep disorder in America, affecting about 20 million Americans, sleep apnea is a sleep problem that is characterized by sudden stops in breathing while asleep. This is often caused by a blockage in a person’s upper respiratory system. If the blockage is partial, it often results in snoring. But if the blockage is full, the result is often a cessation of breathing that is followed by choking or gasping sounds.
In response to not breathing, the brain awakens from sleep to call out the respiratory system for support. It forces the respiratory system to double its efforts to overcome the blockage.
When sleep apnea takes place a couple of times in an hour, the brain does not really enter deep sleep, which is needed to prepare your tissues, bones, and cognitive functions for the next day. As a result, you feel tired the whole day.
Below are the symptoms of sleep apnea:
- You wake up with sore and dry throat.
- You snore loudly.
- You feel sleepy while driving.
- You occasionally wake up due to a gasping or choking sensation.
- You lack energy the whole day.
- You experience morning headaches.
- You become very forgetful.
- Your mood quickly changes.
How to Treat It
The treatment for sleep apnea varies. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a lifestyle change. But there are instances when a surgery is required. Ask your doctor which is the best solution for you.
A neurological disorder, narcolepsy is characterized by the inability of the brain to control sleep. People with this problem experience daytime sleepiness and seldom episodes wherein they fall asleep unexpectedly at daytime. These sleep attacks may happen any time without signs. They can happen during work hours or in the middle of a conversation. They can even happen while eating and playing. Even worse, they can occur while driving.
Here is a list of narcolepsy symptoms:
- People with narcolepsy experience involuntary episodes of falling asleep that can last from seconds to minutes.
- Narcoleptics may experience sleep paralysis, where they are unable to speak or move while asleep. They are aware of what is happening around them but are unable to move because the voluntary muscles are still paralyzed.
- Sufferers of narcolepsy may experience hallucinations when they are about to wake up from sleep. These hallucinations may vary. While some are vivid, others can be frightening.
- Though it seems to contradict that narcoleptics experience difficulties sleeping at night, one of the most common signs of narcolepsy is disturbed sleep. They usually wake up four times in between sleep for no obvious reason.
How to Treat It
At this point, there is no cure for narcolepsy. But there is a combination of treatments designed to control the symptoms of the disorder, allowing a sufferer to enjoy his daily activities like normal people do. Depending on the symptoms, the usual treatment includes medication, lifestyle changes, and counseling.
4. Restless Leg Syndrome
Anyone can suffer the restless leg syndrome. It is a neurological disorder that is characterized by the need to move the legs or other body parts while resting. In case you are wondering why it is classified as a sleep disorder, the restless leg syndrome forces you to move while at rest. Doing so will affect your quality of sleep.
The following are the most obvious symptoms of the restless leg syndrome:
- You experience a strange tingling or itching sensation within your legs or arms.
- There is an urge to move your body to relieve the unusual sensations.
- You feel restless.
How to Treat It
There is no cure for restless leg syndrome, but there are treatments that can relieve the symptoms. One is to avoid foods or substances that have alcohol and caffeine.
What You Should Do If You Have Any of These Sleep Disorders
If you believe you are suffering from a sleep problem, the first thing you have to do is to speak with your doctor. If he thinks you are exhibiting symptoms of a serious sleep disorder, he will refer you to a sleep specialist. Do not take for granted what you are experiencing right now. Just because others experience, it does not mean it’s normal and not to be scared of. If you value your health, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Author: Usman Raza is a freelance writer, marketing specialist at KeevaOrganics.com and co-founder of UsmanDigitalMedia.com. When not working, he’s probably spending time with his family. Follow him on Facebook @usmanraza40 and Twitter @usmanintrotech.