According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people at some point in their life experience sleep disorders. While some may have difficulty falling asleep and limiting the amount of sleep they’re getting, others may not be able to sleep no matter how early they go to bed.
The four key sleep disorders you should know about are listed below, with signs and symptoms of each. If you or someone you know is being affected by one of these, it might be time to consult your doctor.
Insomnia is an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It can affect more than your sleep schedule. Excessive daytime sleepiness and waking up early are also signs of this condition. Stress and a fear of not being able to fall asleep can cause chronic insomnia. Treatments for insomnia include sedating antidepressants and behavioral techniques that encourage regular sleep.
Excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden muscle weakness are symptoms of narcolepsy, also called “sleep attacks.” Narcoleptic episodes can happen during unusual circumstances, and the muscle weakness is usually a result of strong emotion. Treatments for narcolepsy include stimulant medications combined with behavioral interventions like regularly scheduled naps to keep it from disrupting life too much.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
A “creeping” feeling in the lower legs is the biggest sign of RLS, and it can only be relieved by moving the legs. This disrupts sleep and can also lead to aches and pains in the legs. Any problems with the amount of dopamine a person’s body is producing can cause RLS. Treatments usually combine a medicine to remedy the dopamine abnormality with a medicine to encourage sleep.
Snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea. Specifically when a person gasps or snorts loudly enough to wake themself up, it can lead to an interrupted, non-restful sleep. This can cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea can also be caused by other health conditions, and it can be treated by treating those underlying conditions. Administering gentle air pressure during sleep is one way to treat sleep apnea. However, deep sleep apnea (a sign of interrupted breathing or obstructed airways) may require more serious treatment.
Taking care of yourself and your sleep pattern is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. It’s also important to be aware that people you know may be dealing with one of these disorders.
To learn more about sleep disorders and other ways you can prioritize your sleep health, visit the CDC website.