Frequently having trouble sleeping can be a frustrating and debilitating experience. You sleep badly at night, which leaves you feeling dead-tired in the morning and whatever energy you have quickly drains throughout the day. But then, no matter how exhausted you feel at night, you still have trouble sleeping. And so the cycle begins again, taking a serious toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. Ignoring sleep problems and disorders can damage your physical health and lead to weight gain, car accidents, impaired job performance, memory problems, and strained relationships. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, quality sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects around 4% of men and 2% of women in the United States. In general, this disorder is more prevalent among men. However, this difference tends to diminish with age. Women experience the highest risk for OSA during pregnancy. Also, they tend to report experiencing depression and insomnia in conjunction with obstructive sleep apnea. In a meta-analysis of the various Asian countries, India and China present the highest prevalence of the disorder. Specifically, about 13.7% of the Indian population and 7% of Hong-Kong's population is estimated to have OSA. The two groups experience daytime OSA symptoms such as difficulties concentrating, mood swings, or high blood pressure, at similar rates (prevalence of 3.5% and 3.57%, respectively).
A systematic review states 7.6% of the general population experiences sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. Its prevalence among men is 15.9% while 18.9% of women experience it. When considering specific populations, 28.3% of students and 31.9% of psychiatric patients have experienced this phenomenon at least once in their lifetime. Of those psychiatric patients, 34.6% have panic disorder. Sleep paralysis in students is slightly more prevalent for those of Asian descent (39.9%) than other ethnicities (Hispanic: 34.5%, African descent: 31.4%, Caucasian 30.8%).
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.
Ask your doctor for a referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, who can evaluate whether you're a candidate for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a specially designed nasal mask that prevents your nasal passages from collapsing and delivers air directly into your airway. If tongue position during sleep is causing your UARS, the doctor may recommend a dental device that pushes the jaw and tongue forward and prevents the tongue from blocking the opening to the throat.
Although the exact mechanisms and the causal relationship between sleep disturbances and AD are not yet clear, these findings already provide a better understanding. In addition, they open up ideas for the implementation of treatments to curb the cognitive decline of patients suffering from this disease. In the same way, it also makes it possible to better target at risk population.
What to do: Ask your doctor if your restless leg syndrome might be caused by another health condition or by a medication you're taking. Diabetes, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, anemia, vitamin B deficiency, thyroid disease, and kidney problems can all contribute to restless leg syndrome. Medications that can cause restless leg syndrome as a side effect include antidepressants, antihistamines, and lithium. Treating the underlying condition or changing medications may banish the symptoms. Restless leg syndrome has been linked to deficiencies in iron and B vitamins, particularly folate, so talk to your doctor about boosting your intake of these nutrients.
In the UK, knowledge of sleep medicine and possibilities for diagnosis and treatment seem to lag. Guardian.co.uk quotes the director of the Imperial College Healthcare Sleep Centre: "One problem is that there has been relatively little training in sleep medicine in this country – certainly there is no structured training for sleep physicians." The Imperial College Healthcare site shows attention to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA) and very few other sleep disorders. Some NHS trusts have specialist clinics for respiratory and/or neurological sleep medicine.
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.