About Sleep Disorders: Facts You Need to Know!

You've probably experienced a sleepless night and thought maybe I have a sleep disorder. You toss and turn in bed, unable to sleep. Come morning, you're bleary-eyed and exhausted. Many others experience insomnia, but most people recover quickly from it. But then, there are millions out there who suffer from persistent sleep disorders that their quality of life suffers too. Such sleep disorders become responsible for other medical disorders. Individuals who hardly get enough sleep tend to develop a number of physical and mental illnesses. Sleep disorders can greatly impact your life. Keep reading to find out the important facts you need to know about sleep disorders.

Sleep disorders number in the hundreds, and they fall under any of the broad classifications of sleep disorders: dyssomnias (e.g., insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorders); parasomnias (REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep walking, sleep terror, bruxism, sleep talking, bedwetting, exploding head syndrome, sleep sex), sleeping sickness, snoring, and sudden infant death syndrome. Sleep disorders can also be caused by medical or psychiatric conditions such as psychoses, depression, mood disorders, panic, anxiety and alcoholism.

Sleep Disorders
Photo by: Neon Noir
What you need to know about sleep disorders is that they are disruptive. They don't follow the typical sleep phase cycle or they cause the affected individual to not stay in each sleep cycle for a sufficient period. Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. People with insomnia have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. Then there are people who have a hard time staying awake. They have sleep disorders like narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep disorders also include those that cause a disturbance in a person's sleep/wake cycle. Those affected by such sleep disorders are people who travel a lot to different time zones (jet lag) and those who do shift work. There are also people who experience sleepwalking. This particular sleep disorder is found to be associated with behavioral problems.

Here's another important fact about sleep disorders: they can prevent you from experiencing “restorative sleep.” When you're sleep deprived, you're more exhausted, irritable, emotional and impulsive. You have a hard time concentrating and your frustration level is low. But one of the most dangerous facts about sleep disorders is that they can cause your immune system to weaken, making you more susceptible to a number of diseases ranging from the common cold to the more serious cancer and diabetes. In fact, people who have sleep disorders like narcolepsy, sleep apnea and insomnia are likely to suffer from asthma, diabetes or a second sleep disorder.

Another thing you should know about sleep disorders is that they don't discriminate; it can affect anyone regardless of their age. Sleep disorders like nightmares, night terrors and bedwetting affect young children. Insomnia can affect anyone although it is most common among the elderly. They are also easily woken by noise, pain and light. And according to studies, sleep disorders appear to affect mostly women; in fact, over 40% of women report that daytime sleepiness affects their ability to function. The disorder also appears to be more serious when a woman is pregnant or is in menopause.

If you've been having one too many restless nights, consult your doctor. Those sleepless and restless nights can result in more than just daytime sleepiness. Your doctor can provide you information about sleep disorders, present you with a number of treatment options, or refer you to someone who specializes in sleep disorders. It's vital that you receive the appropriate treatment for your sleep disorder; getting quality shut-eye is the only way you'll get an improved quality of life.