A good night’s sleep is easy to take for granted. But if you have a sleep disorder, you may have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night. In some cases, you may not even be aware that your sleep is being interrupted, and you may find that you’re excessively tired during the day. A sleep disorder can increase your risk of developing several chronic diseases or can worsen any health issues you already have.
What is a sleep disorder?
A sleep disorder is a persistent change in sleeping patterns or habits that negatively affects your health.
The following issues are the most common types of sleeping disorders:
- Restless legs syndrome – characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs that cause an overwhelming urge to move them, often at night.
- Insomnia – problems getting to sleep and staying asleep
- Narcolepsy – a brain disorder that causes issues with your sleep-wake cycle. Excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden “sleep attacks” during the day can occur.
- Sleep apnea – repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep that may go unnoticed. Sleep apnea is often associated with loud snoring.
Who can be affected by sleep disorders?
Anyone of any age can be affected by a sleep disorder.
Restless leg syndrome can occur in young children, but if you have a severe case, you’re probably middle-aged or older. It’s more common in women, although it affects both genders.
Insomnia can also affect anyone but is common among shift workers, the elderly, adolescents or young adults, and pregnant or menopausal women.
Narcolepsy typically first appears in childhood and affects males and females equally.
Sleep apnea can affect people of any age, but your risk of having it increases as you get older. Men are more likely to have it than women, and being overweight also increases your risk of having sleep apnea.
How can a sleep disorder affect your life?
Sleep disorders can obviously make you feel quite tired the next day, making it impossible to function as well as you normally would. They can make you more likely to have an auto or workplace accident and often have a profound effect on your overall quality of life.
Sleep apnea, for example, can cause a wide range of symptoms that include loud snoring, insomnia, attention problems, irritability, and morning symptoms that include a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat. In addition, it can increase your risk of serious chronic health issues that include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. If you already have any of these issues, sleep apnea can make them worse.
How are sleep disorders diagnosed?
Keep track of any symptoms you’re experiencing, even if they seem like they’re unrelated to sleep. It can also help to keep a sleep diary that details how long you were in bed each night, how much sleep you got, and how you feel the next day.
A doctor who specializes in sleep disorders can talk to you about your medical history and symptoms and conduct any needed tests. A sleep study, for example, can determine exactly what happens while you’re sleeping.
It’s a non-invasive test that monitors your sleep stages and cycles, as well as your eye movements, blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, snoring, and body movements. Based on this data, a doctor can confirm or rule out sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, and narcolepsy.
If you’re experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, or other symptoms that may be caused by a sleep disorder, schedule an appointment today with eos sleep. We’ll get the information we need to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the best treatment for you.