The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Others are sleep apnea, narcolepsy and hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness at inappropriate times), sleeping sickness (disruption of sleep cycle due to infection), sleepwalking, and night terrors. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.
What to do: This condition requires evaluation by an otolaryngologist, who can look at your nose, mouth, and throat to see what's interrupting your breathing and how to repair that process. You'll also need a sleep test in which your oxygen levels are measured. Often, the first treatment doctors will recommend is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, a specially designed nasal mask that blows air directly into your airways. Studies have shown CPAP masks to be extremely effective in treating sleep apnea. However, many people don't like wearing them -- and, of course, it doesn't work if you don't wear it.
With over 80 listed sleep disorders, and more that are being researched, it's important for patients suffering from the various types of sleep disorders to seek medical treatment. If you believe that your sleep problems may be caused by a disorder, there are many things you can do to solve your sleep issues from DIY tips and tricks such as practicing better sleep hygiene, to contacting a sleep clinic to schedule an inlab sleep study, or an at home sleep test for certain pre-screened disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Both night terrors and sleepwalking arise during NREM sleep and occur most often in children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. A night terror can be dramatic: Your child may wake up screaming, but unable to explain the fear. Sometimes children who have night terrors remember a frightening image, but often they remember nothing. Night terrors are often more frightening for parents than for their child. Sleepwalkers can perform a range of activities -- some potentially dangerous, like leaving the house -- while they continue to sleep.
Narcolepsy is characterized by “sleep attacks” that occur during the day. This means that you will suddenly feel extremely tired and fall asleep without warning. The disorder can also cause sleep paralysis, which may make you physically unable to move right after waking up. Although narcolepsy may occur on its own, it is also associated with certain neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
Another systematic review noted 7-16% of young adults suffer from delayed sleep phase disorder. This disorder reaches peak prevalence when people are in their 20s. Between 20 and 26% of adolescents report a sleep onset latency of >30 minutes. Also, 7-36% have difficulty initiating sleep. Asian teens tend to have a higher prevalence of all of these adverse sleep outcomes than their North American and European counterparts.
Women often experience sleepless nights and daytime fatigue in the first and third trimesters of their pregnancy. During the first trimester, frequent trips to the bathroom and morning sickness may disrupt sleep. Later in pregnancy, vivid dreams and physical discomfort may prevent deep sleep. After delivery, the new baby's care or the mother's postpartum depression may interrupt sleep.
People who have insomnia don't feel as if they get enough sleep at night. They may have trouble falling asleep or may wake up frequently during the night or early in the morning. Insomnia is a problem if it affects your daytime activities. Insomnia has many possible causes, including stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits, circadian rhythm disorders (such as jet lag), and taking certain medications.
If sleeping with a mask on doesn't work for you, other options are surgery; oral appliances; and newer, minimally invasive outpatient surgical treatments. These include the Pillar procedure, which involves using permanent stitches to firm up the soft palate; coblation, which uses radiofrequency to shrink nasal tissues; and even use of a carbon dioxide laser to shrink the tonsils.