Sleep apnea is a common (and treatable) sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep, awakening you frequently. If you have sleep apnea you may not remember these awakenings, but you’ll likely feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in your productivity. Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, so see a doctor right away and learn how to help yourself.
What to do: If you suspect you have a circadian rhythm disorder, take steps to get your body onto a regular sleep schedule. Choose a bedtime and wake-up time that work for you, and follow the same routine each day, even on weekends. This can be tough for those who have to get up early during the week but like to stay up later on weekends, but do your best to craft a compromise between your work week and weekend habits. The important thing is to avoid the trap of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, then suddenly shifting to late nights and late mornings on the weekends. This will inevitably leave you with insomnia on Sunday night, which in turn sets you up to start the week exhausted on Monday morning.
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.
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.
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.
Research suggests that hypnosis may be helpful in alleviating some types and manifestations of sleep disorders in some patients. "Acute and chronic insomnia often respond to relaxation and hypnotherapy approaches, along with sleep hygiene instructions." Hypnotherapy has also helped with nightmares and sleep terrors. There are several reports of successful use of hypnotherapy for parasomnias specifically for head and body rocking, bedwetting and sleepwalking.
Throughout the decades as more research and studies were conducted, the amount of sleep disorders being discovered began to rapidly increase. In 1990 The AASM, along with other professional societies including the European Sleep Research Society, The Japanese Society of Sleep Research, and the Latin American Sleep Society published the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD), which is a "primary diagnostic, epidemiological, and coding resource for clinicians and researchers in the field of sleep and sleep medicine."
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.
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.
A systematic review found that traumatic childhood experiences (such as family conflict or sexual trauma) significantly increases the risk for a number of sleep disorders in adulthood, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia. It is currently unclear whether or not moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
What to do: See your dentist for an exam. Bite problems are often a cause of bruxism, and it's a good idea to check for damage to your teeth. It's likely she'll suggest lifestyle changes, such as cutting out alcohol before bed. If you chew gum, stop -- the habitual chewing action can make it more likely you'll grind your teeth at night. Wearing a dental guard or splint at night is usually the next step for bruxism. Your dentist will fit you with a device that prevents your jaw from clenching. Other treatments include Botox injections to the jaw muscle, and a biofeedback device called Grindcare.