- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Sleep Disorders – Symptoms, Causes, Remedies
Most people have trouble falling asleep at some point in their lives. In fact, it is completely normal and temporary and may be caused by stress or any other number of outside factors. However, if sleeping problems become the norm and start to interfere with normal functions of daily life it ceases to be a normal occurrence and starts becoming a sleeping disorder.
Sleep disorders bring about more problems than just general sleepiness because if you toss and turn for hours at night and get but a couple of hours of sleep, it begins to take its toll on your body. In fact, it impacts your overall health, your energy levels, and even your emotional state. In the US alone, about 40 million people suffer from sleeping disorders and this costs employers around $18 billion in unproductivity due to lack of sleep.
People who think they are suffering from sleeping problems and disorders will do well to learn the symptoms of the most common sleep disorders, what can be done, and when to tell if it is time to see a professional.
Understanding Sleeping Disorders
Sleep can be used as a barometer of a person’s overall health. In many instances, people who enjoy good overall health tend to enjoy uninterrupted sleep for about 7 hours a night. On the other end of the spectrum, you find people who suffer from sleeping problems and the most common denominator in most cases is an underlying medical or mental illness. Whether the medical or mental illness is major or minor, it tends to have an effect on the quality of sleep a person has and often leads to a disorder. Sleeping well is crucial to emotional well-being and physical health and it is unfortunate that even the most minimal amount of sleep loss can take its toll on people’s ability to handle stress, moods, efficiency, productivity, and energy levels.
Ignoring sleep disorders and problems does not work because they do not go away on their own. In fact, leaving them alone may be the worst thing you can do since they will just get worse over time as your emotional, mental, and physical conditions get worse. As a matter of fact, ignoring sleep problems can lead to poor health, impaired job performance, relationship stress, and accidents. According to studies, 60% of adult drivers in the US confessed to driving while they were sleepy and 37% of those have fallen asleep even while they were behind the wheel. Even more alarming is the 4% (11 million drivers) who confessed to having accidents or near accidents on the road since they fell asleep behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 of total crashes reported by the police were caused by driver fatigue. Approximately 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries were recorded to be caused by drowse drivers.
Symptoms of Sleeping Disorders
As mentioned earlier, it is perfectly okay for people to lose sleep every once in a while and feel sleepy but how can people tell if their lack of sleep or sleepiness is merely a passing problem or a sign that something more serious may be wrong? Check out some of the most common symptoms below:
- Sleepy during the day
- Has difficulty staying awake while watching TV, reading, and sitting still
- Falls asleep while driving
- Has trouble concentrating
- Looks tired
- Has slow reaction time
- Has trouble controlling emotions
- Feels the need for a nap almost everyday
- Needs caffeine to stay awake
People who answered “yes” to these may have sleeping problems or disorders.
Most Common Sleeping Disorder
There are many kinds of sleep disorders out there and they are:
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Sleep apnea
Of the four, it is insomnia that plagues people the most. It has been reported that 1 out of 10 adults in the US suffer from insomnia and it is important to note that it may be caused by any number of factors such as:
- Conditions that bring about chronic pain
- Headache disorders
- Constructive obstructive disease
- Abnormal thyroid functions
- Enlarged prostate
Insomnia may also be caused by medications like decongestants, steroids and beta blockers. A dependence on nicotine, caffeine, and other stimulants may also bring about insomnia. Sleep disruptions that are caused by medications, medical conditions, and substances may get resolved by way of treatment. However, this does not always happen for everyone and the condition may persist even after the medical problem is resolved and managed.
Treatment for Insomnia
People who seek treatment for their sleep disorder may be asked to try different treatments. Some treatments may even be used together to achieve effectiveness. Some examples of treatments include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy or Insomnia or CBTI
- Diet change
- Sleeping aids
The best way to deal with insomnia and other sleeping disorders is to have a talk with a qualified medical professional. This way, symptoms may be discussed along with possible causes and remedies.