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.
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.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. If you have narcolepsy, you may have “sleep attacks” in the middle of talking, working, or even driving. Although no cure yet exists, a combination of treatments can help control symptoms and enable you to enjoy many normal activities.
Insomnias This type of sleep disorder involves the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. MORE>>Hypersomnias Hypersomnias are a group of sleep disorders that causes a person to be excessively sleepy. People with a hypersomnia may fall asleep at times that are inconvenient or even dangerous, such as at work or while driving. MORE>>Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Sleep disorders that involve difficulty breathing during sleep are classified as sleep related breathing disorders. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common disorder of this type, however there are a number of variations of sleep apnea. MORE>>Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders Conditions in which the sleep times are out of alignment. A patient with one of these disorders does not follow the normal sleep times at night. MORE>>Parasomnias Parasomnias are a group of sleep disorders that involve unwanted events or experiences that occur while you are falling asleep, sleeping or waking up. MORE>>Sleep Movement Disorders This classification of sleep disorders includes conditions that cause movement during or prior to sleep. These disorders can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, or to get restful sleep. MORE>>
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.
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.
The effects of sleep disorders can be so disruptive that you will likely want immediate relief. Unfortunately, long-term cases can take a bit more time to resolve. However, if you stick with your treatment plan and regularly communicate with your doctor, you can eventually find your way to better sleep. You may also want to visit the National Sleep Foundation website for additional resources to share with your doctor.
There are many possible causes of restless legs syndrome, including kidney failure, nerve disorders, vitamin and iron deficiencies, pregnancy, and some medications (such as antidepressants). Recent studies have shown a strong genetic link and researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the disorder.
Stay cool at night. Make sure your bedroom is at the right temperature to help ensure a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests setting the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Using cooling sheets and pillows can also help, especially for women in menopause who are experiencing hot flashes at night, says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-author of “V is for Vagina.”