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Sleep disorders - overview

Insomnia; Narcolepsy; Hypersomina; Daytime sleepiness; Sleep rhythm; Sleep disruptive behaviors; Jet lag

Sleep disorders are problems with sleeping. These include trouble falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, too much sleep, and abnormal behaviors during sleep.

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  • Sleep disorders - Animation

    Sleep disorders

    Animation

  • Sleep disorders - Animation

    You tuck yourself under the covers, turn out the light, and look forward to eight hours of blissful slumber. But, after turning for hours you're still exhausted, and no closer to sleep than when you first got into bed. Let's talk toady about sleep disorders. Sleep disorders fall into four basic categories. The scenario I described, in which you toss and turn because you can't fall asleep, is called insomnia. Another type of insomnia is when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. Sometimes people get insomnia for a night or two because they're stressed out over a big meeting at work, or they're excited about an upcoming trip. Others can't sleep night after night, and that's called chronic insomnia. People with the second category of sleep disorders have a hard time staying awake during the day, even if they slept well the night before. This is called hypersomnia. Sometimes doctors can't find a cause for hypersomnia. But in many cases, a health condition like fibromyalgia, a thyroid problem, a disease like mononucleosis, obesity, or obstructive sleep apnea, can make you sleepy. If you notice a co-worker is nodding off in the middle of meetings, he might have narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes people to sleep uncontrollably at inappropriate times during the day. Narcolepsy isn't only embarrassing, it can be dangerous if you nod off behind the wheel of a car. A sleep rhythm problem means that you can't stick to a normal sleep schedule. Maybe you work the night shift at your job, or you're always traveling to different time zones and are constantly battling jet lag. Well, whatever the cause, the lack of a normal sleep pattern is called a sleep rhythm disorder. And finally, there are the types of sleep disorders that wake you up with a jolt in the middle of the night, and, these are called parasomnias, and they can severely interrupt your sleep. You may walk in your sleep, or act out your dreams. Children often have night terrors, in which they wake up from a deep sleep in a terrified state. The good news is that you don't have to live on fewer hours of sleep, because there are decent treatments for sleep disorders. If you're struggling to sleep throughout the night, and dragging through the day as a result, talk to your doctor, who can refer you to a sleep specialist for an evaluation.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea - Animation

    Obstructive sleep apnea

    Animation

  • Obstructive sleep apnea - Animation

    Does your "significant other" complain that your snoring wakes them up during the night or keeps them from getting to sleep in the first place? Do they poke you, waking you up because sometimes they're afraid you stopped breathing? If so, you may have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. When you have sleep apnea, the flow of air to your lungs pauses or decreases while you sleep. This happens because your airway has become narrow or blocked. While you sleep, all of the muscles in your body become more relaxed, including the muscles that help keep your airway open, allowing air to flow freely to your lungs. Normally, your upper throat still remains open enough during sleep to let air easily pass by. Some people, however, have a narrowing throat area. When the muscles in their upper throat relax during sleep, their breathing can stop, often for more than 10 seconds. When breathing stops, it's called apnea. Often you're not aware that you stopped breathing during sleep. But you may wake up not-refreshed, and feel drowsy and tired during the day. If you have this condition, your doctor will perform a physical exam, carefully checking your mouth, neck, and throat. You may take a survey that asks a series of questions about daytime sleepiness, sleep quality, and bedtime habits. If your doctor suspects you do have sleep apnea, you make take a polysomnogram, a sleep study that monitors you while you sleep. Once your doctor diagnoses sleep apnea, treatment will focus on keeping your airway open so that you breathe better while you sleep. Lifestyle steps can help. You can avoid alcohol or sedatives, and not just at bedtime, avoid sleeping on your back, and try to lose weight if you need to. And, exercise can help, even in the absence of weight loss. Your doctor can also prescribe a positive airway pressure using a machine, with a tight-fitting face mask, that pumps slightly pressurized air into your mouth during your breathing cycle. This keeps your windpipe open and prevents apnea episodes. Some people need to wear dental devices that keep their jaw forward during sleep. If lifestyle changes and devices don't help, surgery may be an option. Untreated sleep apnea, however, may lead to or worsen heart disease. Most people with sleep apnea who get treatment have less anxiety and depression than they did before. They often perform better at work or school, too. Naturally, having less daytime sleepiness can lower your risk for accidents at work, while you drive and give you more energy throughout the day.

  • Sleep studies

    Sleep studies

    During a sleep study the sleep cycles and stages of sleep are monitored. Electrodes are placed to monitor continuous recordings of brain waves, electrical activity of muscles, eye movement, respiratory rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and heart rhythm. Direct observation of the person during sleep may also be used. The test is performed for people who suffer from insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, obstructive sleep apnea, breathing difficulties during sleep, or behavior disturbances during sleep.

    Sleep studies

    illustration

  • Sleepwalking

    Sleepwalking

    Sleepwalking is not uncommon in children and is often triggered by a disruption in the child's regular sleep pattern or by a fever. It is usually harmless and is outgrown by early adolescence.

    Sleepwalking

    illustration

  • Sleep patterns in the young and aged

    Sleep patterns in the young and aged

    Sleep patterns change with age, anxiety levels and many other factors. Normally, younger people have more concentrated periods of deep sleep compared to older people.

    Sleep patterns in the young and aged

    illustration

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea

    Massively enlarged tonsils can cause episodes of cessation of breathing known as obstructive sleep apnea. Cessation of breathing can last 10 seconds or longer, causing extremely low levels of oxygen in the blood.

    Obstructive sleep apnea

    illustration

  • Natural short sleeper

    Natural short sleeper

    A natural short sleeper is an individual who requires less than 8 to 10 hours of sleep per 24 hour period for normal function.

    Natural short sleeper

    illustration

  • Irregular sleep

    Irregular sleep

    Symptoms of sleep-wake syndrome include irregular periods of sleep and wakefulness which disrupt the normal daily sleep-wake cycle. It may be caused by brain dysfunction or not following a normal sleep schedule, ultimately leading to a pattern of insomnia and frequent daytime napping.

    Irregular sleep

    illustration

  • Sleep disorders - Animation

    Sleep disorders

    Animation

  • Sleep disorders - Animation

    You tuck yourself under the covers, turn out the light, and look forward to eight hours of blissful slumber. But, after turning for hours you're still exhausted, and no closer to sleep than when you first got into bed. Let's talk toady about sleep disorders. Sleep disorders fall into four basic categories. The scenario I described, in which you toss and turn because you can't fall asleep, is called insomnia. Another type of insomnia is when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. Sometimes people get insomnia for a night or two because they're stressed out over a big meeting at work, or they're excited about an upcoming trip. Others can't sleep night after night, and that's called chronic insomnia. People with the second category of sleep disorders have a hard time staying awake during the day, even if they slept well the night before. This is called hypersomnia. Sometimes doctors can't find a cause for hypersomnia. But in many cases, a health condition like fibromyalgia, a thyroid problem, a disease like mononucleosis, obesity, or obstructive sleep apnea, can make you sleepy. If you notice a co-worker is nodding off in the middle of meetings, he might have narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes people to sleep uncontrollably at inappropriate times during the day. Narcolepsy isn't only embarrassing, it can be dangerous if you nod off behind the wheel of a car. A sleep rhythm problem means that you can't stick to a normal sleep schedule. Maybe you work the night shift at your job, or you're always traveling to different time zones and are constantly battling jet lag. Well, whatever the cause, the lack of a normal sleep pattern is called a sleep rhythm disorder. And finally, there are the types of sleep disorders that wake you up with a jolt in the middle of the night, and, these are called parasomnias, and they can severely interrupt your sleep. You may walk in your sleep, or act out your dreams. Children often have night terrors, in which they wake up from a deep sleep in a terrified state. The good news is that you don't have to live on fewer hours of sleep, because there are decent treatments for sleep disorders. If you're struggling to sleep throughout the night, and dragging through the day as a result, talk to your doctor, who can refer you to a sleep specialist for an evaluation.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea - Animation

    Obstructive sleep apnea

    Animation

  • Obstructive sleep apnea - Animation

    Does your "significant other" complain that your snoring wakes them up during the night or keeps them from getting to sleep in the first place? Do they poke you, waking you up because sometimes they're afraid you stopped breathing? If so, you may have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. When you have sleep apnea, the flow of air to your lungs pauses or decreases while you sleep. This happens because your airway has become narrow or blocked. While you sleep, all of the muscles in your body become more relaxed, including the muscles that help keep your airway open, allowing air to flow freely to your lungs. Normally, your upper throat still remains open enough during sleep to let air easily pass by. Some people, however, have a narrowing throat area. When the muscles in their upper throat relax during sleep, their breathing can stop, often for more than 10 seconds. When breathing stops, it's called apnea. Often you're not aware that you stopped breathing during sleep. But you may wake up not-refreshed, and feel drowsy and tired during the day. If you have this condition, your doctor will perform a physical exam, carefully checking your mouth, neck, and throat. You may take a survey that asks a series of questions about daytime sleepiness, sleep quality, and bedtime habits. If your doctor suspects you do have sleep apnea, you make take a polysomnogram, a sleep study that monitors you while you sleep. Once your doctor diagnoses sleep apnea, treatment will focus on keeping your airway open so that you breathe better while you sleep. Lifestyle steps can help. You can avoid alcohol or sedatives, and not just at bedtime, avoid sleeping on your back, and try to lose weight if you need to. And, exercise can help, even in the absence of weight loss. Your doctor can also prescribe a positive airway pressure using a machine, with a tight-fitting face mask, that pumps slightly pressurized air into your mouth during your breathing cycle. This keeps your windpipe open and prevents apnea episodes. Some people need to wear dental devices that keep their jaw forward during sleep. If lifestyle changes and devices don't help, surgery may be an option. Untreated sleep apnea, however, may lead to or worsen heart disease. Most people with sleep apnea who get treatment have less anxiety and depression than they did before. They often perform better at work or school, too. Naturally, having less daytime sleepiness can lower your risk for accidents at work, while you drive and give you more energy throughout the day.

  • Sleep studies

    Sleep studies

    During a sleep study the sleep cycles and stages of sleep are monitored. Electrodes are placed to monitor continuous recordings of brain waves, electrical activity of muscles, eye movement, respiratory rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and heart rhythm. Direct observation of the person during sleep may also be used. The test is performed for people who suffer from insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, obstructive sleep apnea, breathing difficulties during sleep, or behavior disturbances during sleep.

    Sleep studies

    illustration

  • Sleepwalking

    Sleepwalking

    Sleepwalking is not uncommon in children and is often triggered by a disruption in the child's regular sleep pattern or by a fever. It is usually harmless and is outgrown by early adolescence.

    Sleepwalking

    illustration

  • Sleep patterns in the young and aged

    Sleep patterns in the young and aged

    Sleep patterns change with age, anxiety levels and many other factors. Normally, younger people have more concentrated periods of deep sleep compared to older people.

    Sleep patterns in the young and aged

    illustration

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea

    Massively enlarged tonsils can cause episodes of cessation of breathing known as obstructive sleep apnea. Cessation of breathing can last 10 seconds or longer, causing extremely low levels of oxygen in the blood.

    Obstructive sleep apnea

    illustration

  • Natural short sleeper

    Natural short sleeper

    A natural short sleeper is an individual who requires less than 8 to 10 hours of sleep per 24 hour period for normal function.

    Natural short sleeper

    illustration

  • Irregular sleep

    Irregular sleep

    Symptoms of sleep-wake syndrome include irregular periods of sleep and wakefulness which disrupt the normal daily sleep-wake cycle. It may be caused by brain dysfunction or not following a normal sleep schedule, ultimately leading to a pattern of insomnia and frequent daytime napping.

    Irregular sleep

    illustration

Review Date: 1/27/2016

Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, VA New Jersey Health Care System, Clinical Assistant Professor, Rutger's New Jersey Medical School, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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