Sleep Disorders

Affecting the mood, weight, hormone levels and ability to sleep well, either because of stress or a continuing health problem, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common owing to the fast-paced lifestyle.

What Are the Types of Sleep Disorders?

Several sleep disorders may be because of lifestyle changes or any underlying health condition. If any of the disorders are persistent, consulting a health specialist right away is advisable to avoid further health problems.

  1. Insomnia - Referred to as one of the most common sleep disorders, insomnia affects the sleep pattern and causes problems in falling asleep or remaining asleep. The common causes of insomnia include stress, jet lag, hormonal changes, digestive issues and anxiety. Insomnia treatment includes therapy, medications and changes in the lifestyle. If left untreated, insomnia may lead to weight gain, depression, weak concentration, irritation and more.
  2. Sleep Apnea - Referred to as a severe medical condition, sleep apnea is another common sleep disorder that is more prevalent in men. This condition causes disruption in breathing and makes the person feel tired even after a good sleep. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, poor memory and concentration, diminished sex drive, disturbed mood, high BP and daytime fatigue. Though it can be treated by making lifestyle changes, if the condition persists for a longer duration, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine may be advised by the doctor. An active lifestyle and a strict watch on the weight can reverse the condition when it is in its mild stage.
  3. Restless Leg Syndrome - Uncomfortable sensations in the legs followed by an irresistible urge to move the legs is referred to as restless leg syndrome. The severity ranges from insignificant to intolerable and generally worsens with time and starts disrupting sleep. Parkinson’s disease and ADHD are the two health conditions associated with this syndrome. This syndrome affects both men and women and is usually diagnosed in middle-aged or older people.
  4. Parasomnias - Causing abnormal behaviour and movement during sleep, Parasomnias includes sleepwalking, nightmares, groaning, teeth grinding, sleep talking, bedwetting and jaw clenching.
  5. Narcolepsy - A chronic sleep disorder caused by abnormal signalling to the brain and genetic factors leads to overwhelming daytime drowsiness. This disorder may also lead to sleep paralysis if left untreated.

The Causes of Sleep Disorders

Several health and genetic conditions can lead to disturbance in sleep. Few causes are mentioned below:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Allergies
  • Frequent urination or Nocturia
  • Chronic pain due to lower back pain, arthritis or any other condition
  • Continuing headache
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anxiety and stress

The Diagnosis of Sleep Disorders

The doctor usually takes a session to understand the patient’s medical history and then performs a physical examination followed by a set of tests. The tests include genetic blood testing, electroencephalogram and polysomnography. These tests determine the right course of treatment depending on the sleep disorder.

  1. Genetic Blood Testing - diagnoses underlying health conditions and narcolepsy.
  2. Electroencephalogram - evaluates electrical activity in the brain.
  3. Polysomnography - a sleep study that evaluates and records movement of the body, oxygen levels and brain waves. PSG is a multi-parametric test that is performed to test sleep disorders.

The Treatment of Sleep Disorders

The sleep problems treatment depends on the type of disorder one is suffering from and its underlying cause. Routine medications and an improved lifestyle can help in controlling this disorder. Your doctor will recommend you the medical treatments that include sleeping pills, medication for allergy or cold, melatonin supplements, CPAP in case of sleep apnea, dental guard (teeth grinding) and medication of any underlying disease that is causing the sleep disorder.

Lifestyle changes recommended by the doctor include creating a sleep schedule, limiting alcohol and tobacco use, dietary changes, and reduced stress, sugar and caffeine intake.

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