People frequently talk about spending restless nights because they cannot sleep well. But what most of us don’t realize is that frequent inability to sleep is a warning bell.
It marks the onset of sleep disorder, a medical condition that affects the sleep patterns of an individual.
Sleep disorders can be grouped into three categories: lack of sleep or insomnia, excessive sleep and disturbed sleep. Read below to know more about each of them.
Lack of Sleep
Insomnia is an inability to fall into the state of sleep. This is a common problem experienced by most people on an occasional basis. When it does happen, most people feel exhausted or tired and it disrupts daily routine.
Insomnia may result from diet, emotional difficulties, stress, underlying disease, or other factors.
Individuals experiencing short term insomnia may be prescribed sleeping pills. For long term sufferers, sleeping pills may exacerbate the condition. For them, meditation or professional assistance is recommended.
Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep. A neurological disorder or mechanical malfunction in your windpipe may be the underlying factor. Age is another reason, because as you get older your muscle tone begins to relax, which may contribute to the collapsing of your windpipe.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where blocked air and loud snoring last for up to 60 seconds. The person may appear to be snorting or gasping for air due to the lack of oxygen. When this happens, the brain responds by tightening the muscles and opening the windpipe. Factors that contribute to sleep apnea include obesity, enlarged nostrils and narrow nasal passages.
Smoking, alcohol and sedatives may worsen this condition. Long term effects of the windpipe, closing leads to oxygen deprivation. This is the primary trigger behind decreased mental function and morning headaches. Individuals suffering from sleep apnea are at an increased risk for developing stroke and heart disease.
The other common disturbed sleep disorders are REM sleep behavior disorder, restless legs syndrome and Periodic limb movement disorder. All these need to be addressed with the help of sleep clinics or experienced medical experts.
Narcolepsy is a medical condition whereby a person falls asleep throughout the daytime, lasting from a minute to more than thirty minutes. These sleep attacks occur uncontrollably and can occur at any time, even when the person is busy with an activity. Narcoleptics demonstrate an abnormal sleep pattern. Their entry into REM sleep is premature without entering the normal sequence of sleep. This condition is genetic and has been associated with neurological disease and or brain damage.
The other excessive sleep disorders are Cataplexy, sleep paralysis and Hynagogic hallucinations.