- Aging & Longevity
Sleep Disorders in Adults
Going to bed after a hard day of work is a satisfying end to a long day for many tired adults. Sometimes, however, what should be a peaceful night of rest can instead turn into long hours of restlessness, sleeplessness and even danger. Many adults today suffer from common sleep disorders and seek to diagnose their symptoms in the hopes that they will be able to sleep undisturbed.
As someone who sleepwalks or sleeptalks nearly every night, I understand the irritation and frustrations that sleep disorders can cause. Take a look below at some of the most common sleep disorders in adults and see if you or someone you know may be suffering from a sleep disorder.
Insomnia by the Numbers
- 58% of American adults have experienced Insomnia at least one night a week.
- Chronic Insomnia affects about 6% of the adult American population.
- 48% of American adults report experiencing insomnia regularly at one point in their lives.
Insomnia is generally characterized by the inability to sleep, whether that means going to sleep initially or staying asleep. If you can answer yes to to either of these following questions, you may suffer from insomnia.
- Do you have trouble falling asleep more than one night a week?
- Do you have trouble staying asleep more than one night a week?
Insomnia that lasts longer than a month often impairs a person's waking hours and should be diagnosed by a doctor. Insomnia often causes delayed reaction times, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and other problems that can severely impact your life. There are three main types of Insomnia:
Transient Insomnia: This type of insomnia usually lasts for about a week at a time and is usually caused by environmental changes.
Acute Insomnia: Acute insomnia is difficulty sleeping for periods lasting a month or less. This type of insomnia is generally related to stress.
Chronic Insomnia: This type of insomnia lasts indefinitely and can severely impair a person's activities. Chronic Insomnia may be the primary disorder, or it can be caused by mental illnesses, like depression.
Sleepwalking and Sleeptalking
Most adults grow out of sleepwalking and sleeptalking, but about 6% of adults continue to suffer from sleepwalking and sleeptalking. Talking in your sleep may not be such a big deal to you, but in can effect those around you and keep them awake.
Sleepwalking, however, can be directly hazardous to those around you, and to yourself. As a sleepwalker, I have left tents while camping, left apartments and even come close to grabbing my roommate in the middle of the night (in my sleepwalking haze, I thought she was a tray of spaghetti--don't ask!).
If sleepwalking is not genetic in your family- a large portion of sleepwalkers find that sleepwalking runs in their families- then sleepwalking can be a sign of some more serious problems, including Parkinsons disease, post traumatic stress disorder or even multiple personality disorder. If sleepwalking keeps you awake regularly, you should see a sleep pathologist.
- Sleepwalking in Adults: Stories, Tips and Tricks
Why do adults sleepwalk? Read to find out why and hear the stories of a serial sleepwalker.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
- Exhaustion during the day
- Lengthy pauses in breathing
- Jerking awake multiple times during the night
- Coughing, snorting, gasping and wheezing during the night
Sleep Apnea is a disorder wherein the sleeper will stop breathing at length, or have difficulty breathing during the night. Sleep Apnea can be a serious hazard to health and the sufferer can awake dozens of times during the night as they struggle to breathe.
Causes and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is most common in adult males, and increases in occurrence when patients reach 65. Certain life style factors like smoking and obesity can also cause sleep apnea. Blacks, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders are also more at risk.
Narcolepsy is the inability to control daytime wakefulness and causes patients to suddenly fall asleep or experience extreme drowsiness. Narcolepsy is one of the more uncommon disorders in adults, but still effects about 1 in every 2,000 Americans. One of the more mysterious disorders, Narcolepsy is the third most frequently diagnosed disorder, and has no known causes (besides possible genetic influence) or cures.
Narcolepsy is best treated through control of symptoms and can be devastating to the way a person lives. Symptoms usually show up between 30-45 years of age, but has also effected those as young as 3.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is the powerful urge to jerk, twitch or otherwise move your limbs in response to unusual sensations. Considered a neurological disorder instead of a sleep disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome tends to strike when patients are relaxing or trying to go to sleep. It can cause severe disruption and can be annoying to those you may share a bed with.
60% of Restless Leg sufferers inherited the condition while an estimated 34% of sufferers had a deficiency in iron or other necessary nutrients that help control voluntary muscle movement. Restless Leg syndrome can be aided with the use of prescription drugs.