A nocturnal movement disorder, restless leg syndrome can feel like itchiness, tingling, or prickling that makes you feel like you have to move your legs. Your legs may also move without your control while you sleep. You may or may not be aware of waking during the night, but restless leg syndrome causes sleep problems by preventing deep, restful sleep.
Waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is such a common problem it has a name: nocturia . As we get older, our bodies' ability to hold fluids for long periods decreases, thanks to a decline in antidiuretic hormones. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65 percent of older adults have sleep deprivation resulting from waking up frequently to use the bathroom.
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.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an overwhelming need to move the legs. This urge is sometimes accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs. While these symptoms can occur during the day, they are most prevalent at night. RLS is often associated with certain health conditions, including ADHD and Parkinson’s disease, but the exact cause isn’t always known.
Sort of a milder cousin of sleep apnea, UARS occurs when some type of resistance slows or blocks air in the nasal passages. The most common causes are mild nasal congestion or a tongue position during sleep that blocks breathing. Because the resistance makes it harder work simply to breathe, your body is half-waking up over and over again during the night, so you don't feel refreshed in the morning.
Due to rapidly increasing knowledge about sleep in the 20th century, including the discovery of REM sleep in the 1950s and circadian rhythm disorders in the 70s and 80s, the medical importance of sleep was recognized. The medical community began paying more attention than previously to primary sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, as well as the role and quality of sleep in other conditions. By the 1970s in the US, clinics and laboratories devoted to the study of sleep and sleep disorders had been founded, and a need for standards arose.
Although more research should be done to increase the reliability of this method of treatment, research suggests that music therapy can improve sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders. In one particular study, participants (18 years or older) who had experienced acute or chronic sleep disorders were put in a randomly controlled trial and their sleep efficiency (overall time asleep) was observed. In order to assess sleep quality, researchers used subjective measures (i.e. questionnaires) and objective measures (i.e. polysomnography). The results of the study suggest that music therapy did improve sleep quality in subjects with acute or chronic sleep disorders, however only when tested subjectively. Although these results are not fully conclusive and more research should be conducted, it still provides evidence that music therapy can be an effective treatment for sleep disorders.
Now consider noise. If a ticking clock disturbs you, buy one that doesn't tick, or use your phone. Turn clock radios and MP3 players to the wall and cover lighted screens. Lay in supplies of earplugs, eye masks, and anything else that helps screen out light as well as sound. Some people find a fan or white-noise machine is soothing and blocks out street noise. If you don't like wearing earplugs or an eye mask when you fall asleep, keep them on your bedside table in case you wake up later. Many people find they're more sensitive to light and sound in the middle of the night.
According to one meta-analysis, the two most prevalent sleep disorders among children are confusional arousals and sleep walking. An estimated 17.3% of kids between 3 and 13 years old experience confusional arousals. About 17% of children sleep walk, with the disorder being more common among boys than girls. The peak ages of sleep walking are from 8 to 12 years old. A different systematic review offers a high range of prevalence rates of sleep bruxism for children. Between 15.29 and 38.6% of preschoolers grind their teeth at least one night a week. All but one of the included studies reports decreasing bruxist prevalence as age increased as well as a higher prevalence among boys than girls.
None of these general approaches is sufficient for all patients with sleep disorders. Rather, the choice of a specific treatment depends on the patient's diagnosis, medical and psychiatric history, and preferences, as well as the expertise of the treating clinician. Often, behavioral/psychotherapeutic and pharmacological approaches are not incompatible and can effectively be combined to maximize therapeutic benefits. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.
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.