Sleep disorders are more common than the average person may know. When you don’t have a problem getting six, seven, or eight hours of sleep every night, it can be easy to think everyone gets enough rest.
But sleep disorders disturb the rest of thousands of people every night. Some symptoms are obvious, while others are much more subtle.
Could you be suffering from a sleep disorder and not even know it?
Common types of sleep disorders
Everyone experiences trouble sleeping from time to time, but it becomes a problem when it’s a regular occurrence. Some of the most common sleep disorders are:
- Insomnia. According to medical professionals, this is the most common sleep disorder across the world today. It’s characterized by extreme difficulty falling and staying asleep. Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking, the inability to fall back asleep, and chronic fatigue throughout the day. People may suffer from acute or chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia is often induced by temporary life stress, emotional or physical discomfort, environmental factors, medication, or jet lag. Chronic sleep deprivation is much more serious and can be caused by depression, anxiety, pain, or ongoing stress.
- Sleep apnea. Another very common sleep disorder is sleep apnea. People with this condition stop breathing temporarily and repeatedly during sleep. This is usually due to a blockage of the upper airways, and causes the individual to wake up multiple times throughout the night. Common symptoms include loud snoring, frequent lapses in breathing during sleep, snorting, gasping, or choking during sleep, waking up with headaches, nasal congestion, dry throat, and chronic exhaustion during waking hours. It can be difficult to know whether you have sleep apnea, but it can be successfully treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks.
- Restless leg syndrome. RLS is characterized by an irresistible urge to move your legs (or arms). Symptoms vary depending on the individual, but often include leg discomfort, a strong urge to move, pain that is triggered by rest or inactivity, symptoms that get worse at night, symptoms that improve when walking, and night-time leg twitching. The severity of RLS symptoms can often be diminished by creating strict sleeping schedules, exercising in moderation, eliminating caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, taking dietary supplements, losing weight, and practicing relaxation techniques.
- Narcolepsy. A bit more rare than other conditions, narcolepsy is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness that is often uncontrollable. It can cause you to fall asleep during the day even while you’re in the middle of talking, working, or performing physical tasks. Common signs of narcolepsy include losing control of your muscles when you experience strong emotions, having intense dreams immediately after falling asleep, feeling paralyzed when falling asleep or waking up, and dreaming before you’re completely asleep.
- Circadian rhythm disorders. This is a more temporary issue that affects your body’s natural 24-hour cycle. These temporary disruptions are often caused by jet lag or shift work. They can be tough to deal with, but there are ways to reduce the negative effects of a disrupted circadian rhythm. The most effective method is to establish a regular sleep cycle with limited interruptions and distractions.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? If so, you may not be getting the quality sleep you need to function properly during the day.
Fortunately, a number of solutions are available. For a customized treatment option that addresses your symptoms and needs, discuss your condition with a doctor or medical professional.