Sleep disorders are conditions which prohibit a person from getting restful sleep. As many as 70 million people suffer from some form of sleep disorder. Sleep disorders can produce debilitating daytime sleepiness and affect the quality of life for many. There are roughly 80 different kinds of sleep disorders. Here is a list of the Top 4 most common sleep disorders.
- Insomnia: according to sleep experts insomnia is by far the most common sleep disorder, affecting upwards of 60 percent of the general population. Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early and/or having difficulty staying asleep. Other symptoms include failing to have rejuvenating sleep and difficulty with fatigue during the day, as well as severe mood swings and trouble concentrating. Insomnia can be the result of an underlying medical condition, psychiatric problems, or stress. Insomnia is considered chronic when it occurs more than three times a week, for a month or longer.
- Sleep Apnea: the second most common sleep disorder, experts consider sleep apnea to be a potentially dangerous condition. It occurs during sleep when breathing is interrupted regularly. There are 2 kinds of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the more common and occurs when the airway is blocked, usually as a result of the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapsing during sleep. Central sleep apnea (CSA) does not occur as the result of any type of blockage, but rather when the brain does not tell the body to breathe. Sufferers of this type of sleep apnea may awake gasping for air during the night or have recurring awakening throughout the night.
- Night Terrors and Sleepwalking: night terrors are typically experienced by children usually between the ages of 2 and 6 but may also be experienced by adults. Night terrors can last for as little as 1 minute and up to 30 minutes. They can appear to be a nightmare but present themselves in a more dramatic fashion according to sleep experts. Night terrors will occur during non-REM sleep whereas nightmares happen during REM sleep. Unlike nightmares, night terrors are usually not remembered.
- Narcolepsy: of the Top 4 sleeping disorders making 70 million people suffer, the strangest might be narcolepsy. This is a sleep and brain disorder causing extreme sleepiness and an irresistible urge to sleep during normal daytime hours. The sleep attacks come suddenly without warning and can last from seconds to several minutes. Narcolepsy affects daily life as a result of the sudden onslaught of sleepiness which may occur at work, during conversations, driving, eating, or almost anywhere at any time. Unfortunately narcolepsy is a life long condition. Sleepwalking is exactly what the name suggests, walking during sleep while performing normal daily activities. Sleepwalking most often occurs during stages of deep sleep. Often the eyes are open with a glassy appearance and behavior may include anything from roaming around a room to excited running to and fro. Underlying factors of sleepwalking can be stress, genetics, medical conditions and even environmental impacts.
Until recently sleep was considered to be a latent and passive part of life. However scientists have discovered the brain is active during sleep. Neurotransmitters, chemicals which send signals to the brain, are responsible for whether you are asleep or awake, by acting on certain groups of nerve cells or neurons. The important thing to remember, experts say, is that sleep is as important as nutrition. The Top 4 sleep disorders, and all the sleeping disorders that make as many as 70 million people suffer, can be resolved if people pay as much attention to having a good night’s sleep as they do to having enough to eat. If you suffer from any of these disorders it is important to seek treatment and to know there is help. Remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Finish each day before you begin the next and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two”.
By Wendy Waring