More than 40 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders - conditions that make it hard for people to sleep at night or stay awake during the day. Like diet and exercise, sleep is critical to good health. Sleep restores the mind and body. When you sleep, your body rests and renews its energy levels, repairs muscles and tissues, and rebuilds your immune system.
Sleep disorders interrupt normal sleeping patterns and can affect your health in a variety of ways, including:
- Depression, personality changes, and mood swings
- Reduced attention, concentration, and memory
- Frequent illness
- Lost productivity
- Errors on judgment or timing, which may lead to accidents on or off the job
Common Sleep Disorders:
Sleep Apnea, which means "cessation of breath," is characterized by repeat episodes of breathing distress during sleep - pauses in the normal breathing pattern characterized by either short, shallow breaths or pauses in breathing. Sleep apnea can be caused by obstruction of the nasal, throat or jaw areas. Sleep apnea is very common - affecting more than 12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Though sleep apnea is a serious health risk, the vast majority of individuals with this disorder remain untreated. Sleep apnea is more common in men and people who are overweight, and the likelihood of developing the disorder increases with age.
People with sleep apnea can stop breathing from a few to several hundred times per night, for a matter of seconds or more than a minute at a time. When this happens, the oxygen levels in the blood decrease and carbon dioxide increases putting additional strain on the heart, blood vessels and nervous system. Sleep apnea not only compromises your health, but also can make other illnesses or conditions more severe and difficult to treat.
Sleep deprivation can affect every area of your life: mental concentration, physical fitness, personal relationships, work performance and safety. Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious health risks including high blood pressure, heart problems, obesity and stroke.
Sleep apnea often can be cured throughout lifestyle changes, surgery or breathing devices. Treatment provides not only better quality sleep, but increased energy levels, better overall health and a higher quality of life.
Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes a person to have difficulty staying awake, even when they are getting enough sleep at night. Narcolepsy can cause a person to suddenly fall asleep without warning multiple times during the day. These attacks are dangerous and disabling because they can occur at any time and during any activity.
Chronic insomnia is poor quality sleep or not enough sleep. Individuals with this disorder experience restless sleep and always feel tired or have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep on a regular basis.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a disorder characterized by sensations in the legs such as tingling, creeping or burning and the uncontrollable urge to move the legs for relief. Symptoms generally occur when the individual is at rest and can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.