Do you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night? Do you wake up feeling tired and drag yourself through your day, even when you have had enough sleep? You may have a sleep disorder.
Most people have trouble sleeping now and then, especially after drinking too much caffeine or while under stress.
Sleep disorders can rob you of the rest your body needs for good health.
Sleep disorders include:
Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing pauses or stops up to 30 times each hour. You may have periods of shallow breathing, where you take in very little oxygen. Paused and shallow breathing lowers the level of oxygen in your bloodstream. Stimulated by decreased oxygen levels, your brain wakes you up so you can breathe better. You may snore during periods of sleep apnea or awaken suddenly with a snort.
You may not realize that you have sleep apnea because you are, after all, asleep when it happens. In fact, you may not realize that you have this sleep disorder until a family member or bedmate says that you snore or stop breathing when you sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, causes an overwhelming and sometimes uncomfortable urge to move your legs while at rest. The symptoms of restless legs syndrome can cause trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, as the restlessness grows stronger throughout the night. Symptoms tend to appear more often and last longer as you age.
RLS is an extremely common neurological condition, affecting about 1 in 10 adults in the United States. The syndrome affects women twice as often as it does men.
Sleepwalking is a disorder where you walk around even though you are asleep. If you are like most people who sleepwalk, you do not remember what you do during an episode. You might be surprised to learn from people who see you sleepwalk that you perform complex actions, such as making a snack or putting on clothes. You might even leave the house or, worse yet, drive your car in your sleep.
Narcolepsy causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden bouts of sleep. In this neurological disorder, the brain has trouble regulating the sleep/wake cycles. This means you can fall asleep suddenly, without warning. Narcolepsy can create serious havoc within your everyday life and can even be dangerous.
Fortunately, doctors can diagnose sleep disorders using sleep studies. These studies, performed by sleep specialists, measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. The results can help doctors diagnose a sleep disorder and create a treatment plan that helps you sleep better. Sleep studies can also help determine whether treatment for a sleep disorder is helping.