Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sleep Disorders

Eight hours of sleep per night is recommended by physicians to ensure proper mental and physical health. Most people do not get the complete eight hours due to various reasons, such as stress, anxiety, work pressure and, more seriously, sleep disorders. In clinical terms, an irregular pattern of sleep due to difficulty in falling asleep at night is a sleep disorder. This causes sleepiness at inappropriate locations and times, such as at work or while driving. Irritation, snappy behavior, and mistakes in work are some side effects of sleep disorders.

Research has identified over 100 varieties of sleep disorders, each with a different cause.

The most common types are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome.

Insomnia denotes a mix of trouble with falling asleep, an inability to sleep once disturbed, or waking up early in the morning. Causes include anxiety, improper sleeping arrangements, smoking, substance abuse, stress, excessive sleeping during daytime, medical conditions, and so on. All of this results in lower energy level, fatigue, and dark circles around the eyes.

Sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax to the extent of causing breathing to slop. This results in loud snoring and improper breathing. This can lead to heart failure.

Narcolepsy affects both sexes. It refers to drowsiness in the daytime that causes uncontrollable sleeping. Some persons experience hallucinations during this state.

Restless leg syndrome denotes a sensation in the lower legs that causes discomfort. People feel relieved when they move their legs. Continuous leg movements make the person unable to sleep well.

Sleepwalking and constant nightmares are also kinds of sleep disorders. These need to be treated accordingly.

Diagnosing sleep disorders is based on symptoms mentioned by patients, a family history of sleep disorders, observations and tests such as Epworth sleepiness scale, Nocturnal Polysomnogram, Multiple Sleep Latency Test and the Repeated Test Of Sustained Wakefulness.

Sleep Disorders provides detailed information on Sleep Disorders, Sleep Disorder Centers, Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Causes of Sleep Disorders and more. Sleep Disorders is affiliated with Central Sleep Apnea.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sleep Problems


Sleep ProblemsTopic Overview

Everyone has a "bad night" once in a while. Dogs barking, the wind howling, or overeating may make it difficult to sleep. It is estimated that 35% of adults have occasional sleep problems, which can have many causes.


The medical term for difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is insomnia. Insomnia can include:

Difficulty getting to sleep (taking more than 45 minutes to fall asleep).
Frequent awakenings with inability to fall back to sleep.
Early morning awakening.
Feeling very tired after a night of sleep.
However, insomnia usually is not a problem unless it makes you feel tired during the day. If you are less sleepy at night or wake up early but still feel rested and alert, there usually is little need to worry. Fortunately, home treatment measures successfully relieve occasional insomnia.

Occasional insomnia may be caused by noise, extreme temperatures, jet lag, changes in your sleep environment, or a change in your sleep pattern, such as shift work. Insomnia may also be caused by temporary or situational life stresses, such as a traumatic event or an impending deadline. Your insomnia is likely to disappear when the cause of your sleep problem goes away.

Short-term insomnia may last from a few nights to a few weeks and be caused by worry over a stressful situation.
Long-term insomnia, which may last months or even years, may be caused by:
Advancing age. Insomnia occurs more frequently in adults older than age 60.
Mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or mania.
Medications. Many prescription and nonprescription medications can cause sleep problems.
Chronic pain, which often develops after a major injury or illness, such as shingles or back problems, or after a limb has been amputated (phantom limb pain).
Other physical problems, such as asthma, coronary artery disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Alcohol and illegal drug use or withdrawal.
Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is one of several sleep disorders. Sleep apnea refers to repeated episodes of not breathing during sleep for at least 10 seconds (apneic episodes). It usually is caused by a blockage in the nose, mouth, or throat (upper airways). When airflow through the nose and mouth is blocked, breathing may stop for 10 seconds or longer. People who have sleep apnea usually snore loudly and are very tired during the day. It can affect children and adults. See illustrations of a normal upper airway during sleep and a blocked upper airway.


Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that has distinct symptoms, including:

Sudden sleep attacks, which may occur during any type of activity at any time of day. You may fall asleep while engaged in an activity such as eating dinner, driving the car, or carrying on a conversation. These sleep attacks can occur several times a day and may last from a few minutes to several hours.
Sudden, brief periods of muscle weakness while you are awake (cataplexy). This weakness may affect specific muscle groups or may affect the entire body. Cataplexy is often brought on by strong emotional reactions, such as laughing or crying.
Hallucinations just before a sleep attack.
Brief loss of the ability to move when you are falling asleep or just waking up (sleep paralysis).

Parasomnias are undesirable physical activities that occur during sleep involving skeletal muscle activity, nervous system changes, or both. Night terrors and sleepwalking are two types of parasomnias. Sleep can be difficult for people who experience parasomnias. While “asleep,” a person with parasomnia may walk, scream, rearrange furniture, eat odd foods, or wield a weapon.

Parasomnia can cause odd, distressing, and sometimes dangerous nighttime activities. These disorders have medically explainable causes and usually are treatable.

Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that produces an intense feeling of discomfort, aching, or twitching deep inside the legs. Jerking movements may affect the toes, ankles, knees, and hips. Moving the legs or walking around usually relieves the discomfort temporarily.

The exact cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown. The symptoms of restless legs syndrome most often occur while a person is asleep or is trying to fall asleep. The twitching or jerking leg movements may wake the person up, causing insomnia, unrestful sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

When a sleep problem or lack of time keeps you from getting a good night's sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness may occur. While almost everyone experiences daytime sleepiness from time to time, it can have serious consequences such as motor vehicle accidents, poor work or school performance, and work-related accidents.

Sleep problems may be a symptom of a medical or mental health problem. It is important to consider whether a medical or mental health problem is causing you to sleep poorly. Treating a long-term sleep problem without looking for the cause may hide the real reason for your poor sleep.

Review the Emergencies and Check Your Symptoms sections to determine if and when you need to see a health professional.

Author: Sydney Youngerman-Cole, RN, BSN, RNC
Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Malin K. Clark, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
Last Updated: January 14, 2005


How Much Sleep Do We Need?


How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Provided by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age. Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about 9 hours on average. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. We don't seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.

People tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans as they get older, although they generally need about the same amount of sleep as they needed in early adulthood. About half of all people over 65 have frequent sleeping problems, such as insomnia, and deep sleep stages in many elderly people often become very short or stop completely. This change may be a normal part of aging, or it may result from medical problems that are common in elderly people and from the medications and other treatments for those problems.

Experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven't had enough sleep. If you routinely fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you probably have severe sleep deprivation, possibly even a sleep disorder. Microsleeps, or very brief episodes of sleep in an otherwise awake person, are another mark of sleep deprivation. In many cases, people are not aware that they are experiencing microsleeps. The widespread practice of "burning the candle at both ends" in western industrialized societies has created so much sleep deprivation that what is really abnormal sleepiness is now almost the norm.

Many studies make it clear that sleep deprivation is dangerous. Sleep-deprived people who are tested by using a driving simulator or by performing a hand-eye coordination task perform as badly as or worse than those who are intoxicated. Sleep deprivation also magnifies alcohol's effects on the body, so a fatigued person who drinks will become much more impaired than someone who is well-rested. Driver fatigue is responsible for an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1500 deaths each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since drowsiness is the brain's last step before falling asleep, driving while drowsy can - and often does - lead to disaster. Caffeine and other stimulants cannot overcome the effects of severe sleep deprivation. The National Sleep Foundation says that if you have trouble keeping your eyes focused, if you can't stop yawning, or if you can't remember driving the last few miles, you are probably too drowsy to drive safely.

Last Reviewed: 2001


How Can I Avoid Insomnia?


How Can I Avoid Insomnia?
Provided by ehealthMD.com

Prevention of sleeplessness is very much dependent on your ability to relax and learn techniques for sleeping well.

How-To Information:

Here are some tips to help improve your sleep:

Learn to use physical and mental relaxation techniques.
Establish a regular sleep schedule. This involves setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time and making every attempt to stick to it, including on the weekends. This will help to set the body's clock in a way that will make nighttime sleep deeper and more consistent.
Avoid taking naps, especially in the afternoon.
Exercise regularly during the day.
Use the bed only for sleep and sex, not reading or watching television.
If you do not fall asleep fairly quickly, get out of bed. Do not return until you are feeling drowsy.
Try to reduce stress in your life, or find better ways to cope with stress.
If it is noisy in your bedroom, introduce some form of "white noise" such as a rotating fan.
Do not over-focus on falling asleep by watching the clock.
Create a bedroom environment that is quiet, relaxing and peaceful.
Set up a regular bedtime routine that revolves around an activity that helps you unwind.
Avoid caffeine, and other stimulants, especially late in the day.
Eliminate smoking. It has a detrimental effect on the lungs, heart, sinuses, and circulation, and it also interferes significantly with sleep, as nicotine is a stimulant that prevents the brain from resting. Cutting back on cigarette smoking may lead to nicotine withdrawal in the middle of the night, which can awaken you, so it is important to stop smoking completely.
Avoid alcohol. Even if it helps you fall asleep quicker, it actually worsens insomnia by causing shallow, unrefreshing sleep.

Last Reviewed: 2002 by Guy Slowik, M.D.


Tips for a Good Night's Sleep


Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

Provided by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Adapted from "When You Can't Sleep: The ABCs of ZZZs," by the National Sleep Foundation.

Set a schedule
Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Disrupting this schedule may lead to insomnia. "Sleeping in" on weekends also makes it harder to wake up early on Monday morning because it re-sets your sleep cycles for a later awakening.

Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with sleep. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about 5 to 6 hours before going to bed.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant and keeps people awake. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers. Smokers tend to sleep very lightly and often wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs people of deep sleep and REM sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep.

Relax before bed
A warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine can make it easier to fall sleep. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual.

Sleep until sunlight
If possible, wake up with the sun, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body's internal biological clock reset itself each day. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.

Don't lie in bed awake
If you can't get to sleep, don't just lie in bed. Do something else, like reading, watching television, or listening to music, until you feel tired. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia.

Control your room temperature
Maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom. Extreme temperatures may disrupt sleep or prevent you from falling asleep.

See a doctor if your sleeping problem continues
If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, then you may have a sleep disorder and should see a physician. Your primary care physician may be able to help you; if not, you can probably find a sleep specialist at a major hospital near you. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively, so you can finally get that good night's sleep you need. Last Reviewed: 2001


Sleep disorder


Sleep disorder

A sleep disorder (somnipathy) is a disorder in the sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders can interfere with mental and emotional function.

1 Common sleep disorders
2 Broad classifications of sleep disorders
3 Common causes of sleep disorders
4 See also
5 External links

Common sleep disorders
The most common sleep disorders include:

Bruxism: The sufferer involuntarily grinds his or her teeth while sleeping
Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS): a sleep disorder of circadian rhythm
Insomnia: Inability to fall asleep and/or remain asleep for a reasonable amount of time.
Jet lag or desynchronosis: Temporary condition resulting in out of sync sleep patterns as a result of rapidly travelling across multiple time zones
Narcolepsy: The condition of falling asleep spontaneously and unwillfully
Night terror or Pavor nocturnus or sleep terror disorder: abrupt awakening from sleep with behavior consistent with terror
Parasomnias: Include a variety of disruptive sleep-related events
Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): Involuntary movement of arms and/or legs during sleep. See also Hypnic jerk, which is not a disorder.
Rapid eye movement behavior disorder (RBD): Acting out violent or dramatic dreams while in REM sleep
Restless legs syndrome (RLS): An irresistible urge to move legs while sleeping. Often accompanies PLMD.
Sleep apnea: The obstruction of the airway during sleep
Sleep paralysis: Conscious paralysis upon waking or falling asleep
Sleepwalking or somnambulism: Engaging in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness (such as eating or dressing), which may include walking, without the conscious knowledge of the subject
Snoring: Loud breathing patterns while sleeping, sometimes accompanying sleep apnea

Broad classifications of sleep disorders
Dysomnias - Make it difficult to get to sleep, or to stay sleeping.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Restless Leg Syndrome
Periodic limb movement disorder
Recurrent Hypersomnia - including Kleine-Levin Syndrome
Posttraumatic Hypersomnia
"Healthy" Hypersomnia
Delayed sleep phase syndrome
Advanced sleep phase syndrome
REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder
Sleep Terror
Sleepwalking (or Somnambulism)
Bedwetting or sleep enuresis.
Sudden infant death syndrome (or SIDS)
Sleep talking (or Somniloquy)
Medical or Psychiatric Condotions that may produce sleep disorders
Psychoses (like Schizophrenia)
Mood disorders
Sleeping sickness - can be carried by the Tsetse fly
Snoring - Not a disorder in and of itself, but it can be the symptoms of deeper problems, and may result in damaging retribution against snorer by bed partner.

Common causes of sleep disorders
Changes in life style, such as shift work change (SWC), can contribute to sleep disorders.

Other problems that can affect sleep:

Back problems
Neck problems
Various drugs - Many drugs can affect the ratio of the various stages of sleep, thus affecting the overall quality of sleep. Poor sleep can lead to accumulation of Sleep debt.
A sleep diary can be used to help diagnose, and measure improvements in sleep disorders.

According to Dr. William Dement, of the Stanford Sleep Center, anyone who snores and has daytime drowsiness should be evaluated for sleep disorders.

See also
Reversed vegetative symptoms
Sleep hygiene
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.