Everyone has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep now and again, but a chronic sleep disorder is defined differently than an occasional restless night.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one-third of adults in the United States claim to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. If this describes you, then you may suffer from a sleep disorder, which can affect your health over time.
In fact, diseases like type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are sometimes linked to sleep disorders. Depression and weight gain can also be related factors. All of this underscores the importance of seeking treatment for a sleep disorder.
Common Sleep Disorders and Symptoms
Following are descriptions of some of the major sleep disorders and their related symptoms.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is associated with pain and discomfort in the legs, which may appear as a crawling sensation that creeps up from the lower leg. The response is a kicking or jerking of the leg, as these actions relieve the sensation – but at the same time disturbs sleep, especially when trying to fall asleep.
RLS has been associated with improper levels of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter. Patients with dopamine abnormalities are often treated with medication.
Snoring can be a sign that you have sleep apnea. This type of snoring is characterized by gasping, which in turn interrupts sleep.
There are a number of underlying causes of sleep apnea, and determining the root cause is crucial to treatment. Congestive heart failure, for instance, often causes sleep apnea. A nasal obstruction can also be a root cause. In either case, regular breathing is affected, and the irregular breathing that replaces it can be dangerous.
If you’re plagued with excessive daytime sleepiness that is punctuated with irresistible sleepiness, then you may suffer from narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is also characterized by muscle weakness that comes on suddenly.
Narcolepsy may occur at unnatural times. The affected person may be involved in an activity that requires alertness – even something simple, such as walking – when the condition suddenly strikes.
A common sleep disorder, insomnia is the inability to fall asleep. It may also prohibit the affected person from staying asleep for what should be a normal, extended period of time.
The disorder is also characterized by very early rising, waking perhaps in the wee hours of the morning – and being unable to fall back asleep.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that are related to the sleep disorders above, seek help from a trusted health care professional. Underlying conditions may be the cause of the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Sleep Doctor in South Carolina
At SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation, we believe that better sleep equals a better life. If you aren’t experiencing the best sleep possible, we can help you.
Call our offices for more information or to schedule an appointment at (803) 749-1111, or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you enjoy normal, sleepful nights once again.