Sleep – we all need it. We likely all want more of it and there are many of us who just can’t seem to get it as easily as we would like. Sleep disorders have plagued man since ancient times
Sleep, rest of things, O pleasing Deity, Peace of the soul, which cares dost crucify, Weary bodies refresh and mollify.” – Ovid – Roman Poet
Lets have a look at the major types of sleep disorders – those cruel robbers of the good nights sleep.
We have all heard of insomnia and who hasn’t had an occasional (isolated) bout with the inability to get to sleep? The real challenge is whats known as Acute or Chronic Insomnia Disorder. This is typically characterized by problems with getting to sleep or staying a sleep for at least a few nights a week that can continue on for months or indefinitely.
The causes of insomnia can be almost anything from a secondary response to another ailment of some kind to things like stress, medications, unusual required sleep schedules and more. There are even extreme cases of insomnia where people haven’t slept for years.
2. Sleep Related Breathing Disorders
The one that comes to mind first when you think of sleeping and breathing issues is Sleep Apnea. With Sleep Apnea in short the normal breathing cycle is broken up by long pauses that can range from a few seconds to a few minutes.
There are two types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA) or a combination of both. OSA is the result of something causing a blockage of the air flow. Common factors include being overweight, allergies, small airways, etc. CSA on the other hand is simply the the body not making the effort to breath consistently while sleeping.
There are also Sleep related hypoventilation and sleep-related hypoxemia disorders. These primarily have to do any physical impact that causes lower oxygen levels and higher carbon dioxide levels. Causes can be pulmonary related diseases, neurological issues, neuromuscular issues, and any type of abnormality that impacts the normal course of breathing during sleep.
3. Central Disorders for Hypersomnolence
These disorders are primarily characterized by severe problems with staying awake during the day despite relatively normal night time sleep. Perhaps the most common and well-known example is Narcolepsy which can at its most severe cause people to instantly fall asleep. Another very rare example is what is known as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome (Kleine-Levin syndrome) where a person will sleep for excessive periods of time which can range from a week up to a month and in rare cases longer. Other causes can be from psychiatric disorders, medications or and other types of medical disorders.
4. Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders
The Circadian rhythm is the normal 24 hour cycle that our bodies follow to regulate being awake and asleep. These sleep disorders are characterized by a disruption of the normal circadian rhythm. This can range to things like jet lag, working late shifts to and anything that causes irregular sleeping patterns.
These sleep disorders are related to unwanted physical movements during sleep. These movements may not necessarily wake up the person but will alter their normal non-REM and REM sleep patters. A few of the more common examples include:
- Sleep Walking
- Extensive and Recurring Nightmares
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Sleep Terrors
- Sleep Paralysis – When the person is aware of whats going on but can’t move.
- Exploding Head Syndrome – The person experiences hearing loud imagined sounds like a bomb exploding, gunshots, etc. when falling asleep or waking up
- Sleep Talking
- Cramps – Regular painful cramping
- Bruxism – Excessive teeth grinding
These movements can be caused for various reasons including medication side effects, other illnesses that impact sleep, stress and more. There is no doubt for some people getting a good night sleep for some can be a major challenge.