Sleep Disorders

A sleep disorder is something that interrupts a person's normal, healthy sleep patterns. Symptoms of a sleep disorder can include snoring, interrupted breathing, excessive daytime sleepiness and sleepwalking. Long-term sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders can have a profound and diverse impact on health, behavior and quality of life.

There are more than 80 known sleep disorders. Some of the more common include:

  • Sleep Apnea (Snoring): People with sleep apnea are often heavy snorers who stop breathing again and again while sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to have life-altering cardiovascular consequences.
  • Insomnia: People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia can be caused by misuse or overuse of sleeping pills, or by adverse psychological, environmental or physiological conditions that require attention.
  • Periodic Limb Movements: People with this condition experience twitching in the legs, and sometimes arms, while sleeping. These muscle jerks may not completely awaken you, but they disrupt sound sleep and affect your ability to function well in the daytime.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome: People with RLS have a strong urge to move the legs, very hard to resist and often coming with other uneasy feelings like burning, prickling, itching or tingling deep inside the legs. These feelings usually grow worse at night or at rest.
  • Narcolepsy: People who feel overly sleepy during the day, or who feel muscular weakness when they are angry, surprised or amused, may have narcolepsy. Narcolepsy can make you fall asleep while driving and contribute to work-related accidents.
  • Acid Reflux: People with "heartburn" often experience frequent nighttime awakenings. Burning pains in the lower chest, or coughing, are heartburn symptoms that can be an indication of a more serious condition.

A formal sleep evaluation is the safest and most reliable method for diagnosing sleep-related medical conditions. A formal sleep evaluation can also provide results that reassure you and your family that your sleep patterns are normal.

Visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine or http://www.sleepeducation.com/ for more information on sleep disorders.