Sleep Disorders (Somnipathy) are a group of medical disorders that relate to an individual’s sleeping patterns. Although not always the case, these disorders can be serious as they interfere with the normal functioning of the person affected by them. The sleep deprivation effects are discussed in more detail on this page. These interferences complicate one’s physical, mental and emotional processes and therefore the importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. Patients suffering from sleep disorders are given a polysonmogram, which is a test that examines sleeping patterns and sleeping habits.
One-third of all adult Americans (about 50 million people), complain about their sleep and there are several causes of sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, because of busy lives and the fact that we do not feel VERY ill, most of us do not consider that our tiredness is likely directly related to some form of sleep disorder and we ignore the sleep deprivation symptoms. Let’s together look at some of the most common sleep disorders.
Sleep paralysis is a parasomnia. A parasomnia involves undesired events that come along with sleep. Sleep paralysis causes you to be unable to move your body at the following times:
- When falling asleep (hypnologic or predormital form)
- When waking up from sleep (hypnopompic or postdormital form)
Normally your brain causes your muscles to relax and be still as you sleep. This is called “atonia.” Sleep paralysis seems to be when this atonia occurs while you are awake. Sleep paralysis is “isolated” when it appears without any other signs of narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis is discussed in further detail on this page.
Sleep walking is characterized by activities such as walking while the patient is still asleep. Sleep walking (Somnambulism) happens when a series of behaviors (some complex) initiate when an individual is in a sleep stage called slow wave sleep. Slow wave sleep usually has an end result of walking during sleep. Sleep walking is a rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder that occurs in the dream stage of sleep. Given that we all dream, this means that we are all susceptible to sleep walking. What usually happens during this phase is that the body releases a chemical that paralyzes the body. However, those who sleep walk do not have this chemical trigger and therefore tend to sleep walk. We have an entire page dedicated to this common sleep disorder called sleep walking.
Talking in your sleep (somniloquy) is the act of speaking during sleep. It is a type of parasomnia or an abnormal behavior that takes place during sleep. It is a very common occurrence and is not usually considered a medical problem.
What are the symptoms of talking in your sleep?
- Speech or utterances during sleep.
- Episodes are not associated with awareness of talking.
- Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows episodes of sleep talking can occur in any stage of sleep.
- It can be associated with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders.
- It can be associated with medical disorders such as febrile illness (fever).
- It can be associated with other sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, or REM sleep behavior disorder.
For more information on talking in your sleep follow this link
Sleep Insomnia is actually more of a symptom than it is a disease. Actually, it is not a disease at all. Insomnia is basically when one has trouble with the quantity and/or quality of their sleep. This could mean simply having a hard time falling asleep or having difficulty staying asleep for the entire night. Self-reported sleeping problems, dissatisfaction with sleep quality and daytime tiredness are the only defining characteristics of insomnia because it is such an individual experience.
Once someone is diagnosed as suffering from long term chronic insomnia, then the support of a qualified professional should be a priority as untreated sleep insomnia can become quite serious in it’s overall effect on one’s life. This professional will usually ask that you have a sleep study done to see if you suffer from one of the many sleep disorders.
What does “good sleep” mean? Well nothing really because the term means something totally different from person to person. For instance, studies show that the average adult gets on average seven to eight hours of sleep a night. However, some adults will only need four while others want to have at least ten. In other words, what seems like insomnia to one could be considered a great night sleep for other. Follow us here, were we go into more depth on the subject of sleep insomnia.
A sleep eating disorder is best described as patterns of eating that happen during the night. Actually, when you think of it, any type of eating at night is not normal because this is when you should be sleeping and sleeping only.
Sleep eating disorder is not seen as often as sleepwalking is seen, although a sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) can often occur during a sleep walking episode. People with this disorder eat while they are asleep. They often walk into the kitchen and prepare food without a recollection for having done so. Obviously, as one can imagine if you eat often during the night you will be susceptible to weight gain, Type II diabetes mellitus and of course you will tend to not feel refreshed after a nights sleeps as well as feeling tired during the day. More on sleep eating disorder here.
REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is when the paralysis that normally occurs during REM sleep is incomplete or absent, allowing the person to "act out" his or her dreams. RBD is characterized by the acting out of dreams that are vivid, intense, and violent. Dream-enacting behaviors include talking, yelling, punching, kicking, sitting, jumping from bed, arm flailing, and grabbing. An acute form may occur during withdrawal from alcohol or sedative-hypnotic drugs.
RBD is usually seen in middle-aged to elderly people (more often in men). This is a fairly complex subject but one that is becoming more and more important to understand in the world of deprivation of sleep. We have a full page dedicated to (RBD) here.
An anxiety sleep disorder is unfortunately for the sufferer no different than any other anxiety related disorder. Anxiety disorders are a unique group of illnesses that fill people’s lives with persistent, excessive, and unreasonable anxiety, worry, and fear. They include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and specific phobias.
Sleep panic attacks are associated with NREM - non-rapid eye movement sleep, while nightmares or dream anxiety attacks are associated with REM sleep. Sleep panic attacks usually occur during late stage 2 and 3 sleeps, about 3 hours after falling asleep.
Treatment of panic and anxiety sleep disorders include avoiding caffeine - which is known to worsen anxiety - treatment with medication prescribed by a doctor that helps panic attacks and anxiety disorders and instructions on sleep hygiene
We have significant information on anxiety sleep disorder and other types of anxiety disorders on the following page.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is one of those sleep disorders in which the major sleep episode is delayed by two or more hours after the desired bedtime. This causes difficulty awakening at the desired time. People who suffer from delayed sleep phase syndrome are usually perplexed that they cannot find a way to fall asleep more quickly. Their efforts to advance the timing of sleep onset such as going to bed early, having a friend or family member get them up in the morning, trying relaxation techniques or using sleeping pills are not permanently successful.
People who have a delayed sleep phase, which interferes with their routine often compensate by napping during the day, or sleeping excessively on weekends to counterbalance the deprived sleep during the week. This can lead to temporary relief, but perpetuates the delayed phase cycle. More on DSPS here.
Bed wetting sleep disorder is by far one of those sleep disorders that is the most embarrassing. Did you know that bedwetting is hereditary? However, thankfully the bed wetting sleep disorder is curable and very rarely crosses the age of 10 years of age. In only about two percent of all the bed wetting sleep disorder cases, the patient continues this habit into adulthood.
The medical term for bedwetting is nocturnal enuresis, and it is generally categorized as either "primary" or "secondary." Primary Nocturnal Enuresis is defined as frequent (almost nightly) bedwetting that continued from infancy without stopping for any length of time. Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis is identified as bedwetting that resumed after daytime and nighttime dryness had been firmly established for at least six months. We have some valuable information on the bed wetting sleep disorder here.
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