Minor and major sleep disorders are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in modern times, especially prevalent in individuals who have for whatever reason failed to embrace healthy and stress-free lifestyles. It’s important to note that the most common sleep disorders don’t necessarily mean lack of sleep, it can also mean too much of it, or could be neither, but instead something that occurs during slumber that isn’t classed as a normal sleeping habit such as excessive snoring. Broadly speaking, these types of disorders occur in the form of compromised rejuvenation, and will eventually compromise the overall well-being and health of an individual. The effects of sleep deprivation can be severe, and many people fail to realize that it can also be fatal. There are different types of sleep disorders, in most cases, these are classified into specific categories which we will discuss below:
The Most Common Types
Insomnia broadly refers to lack of sleep; unfortunately, it is a common occurrence among people of all ages, and according to sleepeducation.org a staggering 30 to 35% of people in the US have brief symptoms of insomnia, and 10% of people have a form of chronic insomnia disorder. Insomnia often occurs in the form of inability to fall asleep or struggles to stay asleep for long, which in turn causes many individuals to feel drained and depressed much of the time.
Some of the main causes of insomnia include stress and emotional complications. Reduced sleep levels are harmful to one’s health, and this might compromise judgment, performance, and coordination as well. Various studies have shown that lack of sleep can compromise the immune system and affect cognitive functionalities too. Although many people resort to sleeping pills, whether self-diagnosed or prescribed by a professional, it’s certainly worth checking our top 10 tips for sleeping better first.
2. Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive, and central. Both refer to interrupted breathing capabilities during sleep, and it often occurs due to complications in the windpipe. Besides that, it can also point out neurological complications that affect the nerve cells which may cause damage to their respiratory capabilities; this kind is known as central sleep apnea. In some cases, this condition might lead to conditions such as snoring and reduced breathing capabilities. Patients with this condition will experience compromised slumber since they often wake up when the windpipe closes as a response mechanism.
People who suffer from sleep apnea may not know what’s causing their disturbance unless they share a room with someone who can explain what they have been experiencing on their behalf. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke; it, therefore, shouldn’t be dismissed once identified.
3. REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder
Also known as RBD, REM sleep behavior disorder can be dangerous for the individual or for their roommate because of the physical movement involved in this disorder.
Essentially, RBD leads to disruptions in the functionalities of the brain, especially during the stage known as REM sleep, hence derives the name. During the REM stage, a section of the brainstem known as the pons will send information to the cortex, which normally leads to temporary paralysis during sleep, thus suppressing our physical actions from being carried out whilst asleep. Since some of the functionalities in the brain have been compromised, individuals who suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder experience the opposite effect, which means temporary paralysis doesn’t stop them from acting out anything they may be experiencing while asleep, such as sleepwalking, punching, kicking and much else.
Narcolepsy refers to a sleep condition that causes patients to sleep uncontrollably throughout the day for durations that might average for 30 minutes. According to narcolepsynetwork.org, 1 in 2000 people in the US are impacted by this neurological disorder. It is caused by the body’s immune system which destroys certain cells that produce hypocretin, which is tasked with wake and sleep functions.
The narcolepsy condition can occur at any time, even when the individual is engaged in performing important activities such as driving. During normal sleep, individuals with narcolepsy will often experience abnormal sleeping patterns and commonly enter the REM stage prematurely. Although there is no known cure for narcolepsy, certain drugs can be prescribed by your healthcare professional to help treat it.
Cataplexy refers to a specific type of condition that leads to the temporary paralysis of the muscles, generally lasting 1 to 2 minutes. An individual could be standing or sitting and then suddenly fall flat. This might be triggered by occurrences of uncontrolled laughter and anger or stress.
Generally, hearing and sensory awareness remain, but speech will be slurred, vision will be impaired, and weakened muscles from head to toe could occur very quickly. No matter how serious the condition, seek medical help because bouts of cataplexy could seriously endanger you and those around you.
Taking all things into perspective, sleep disorders are common, and there are as many different methods to mitigate the effects of the complication. In most cases, this might mean consulting with a medical professional or perhaps learning more about the condition. Broadly speaking, these conditions can be controlled by changing lifestyle habits or going for medical therapies.