Competence in sleep medicine requires an understanding of a myriad of very diverse disorders, many of which present with similar symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, which, in the absence of volitional sleep deprivation, "is almost inevitably caused by an identifiable and treatable sleep disorder", such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, Kleine–Levin syndrome, menstrual-related hypersomnia, idiopathic recurrent stupor, or circadian rhythm disturbances. Another common complaint is insomnia, a set of symptoms which can have a great many different causes, physical and mental. Management in the varying situations differs greatly and cannot be undertaken without a correct diagnosis.
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.
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.
According to one meta-analysis, the mean prevalence rate for North America and Western Europe is estimated to be 14.5±8.0%. Specifically in the United States, the prevalence of restless leg syndrome is estimated to be between 5 and 15.7% when using strict diagnostic criteria. RLS is over 35% more prevalent in American women than their male counterparts.
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.