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Learn More About Sleep Disorders

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night, although some people need less than 4, and others more than 10.

Your sleep needs can often be determined by measuring daytime alertness. Some people fall asleep at times when they should normally be able to stay awake. Such abnormal sleep is a sign of several different disorders and can be successfully treated.

The most common symptoms of sleep disorders are:
  • daytime sleepiness
  • heavy snoring
  • breathing irregularities
  • morning headaches
  • nighttime chest pains
  • excessive use of sleeping pills.

Other symptoms may include difficulty in falling asleep or frequent awakenings during the night.

Common Sleep Disorders include:

What Can Be Done About a Sleep Disorder?

Most sleeping disorders  can be effectively treated once they have been accurately diagnosed. Some conditions require medication. Others may require a change in daily habits and working schedule. When sleep apnea is present, weight loss, equipment or an upper airway operation may be necessary to diminish  serious health risks. It is important to emphasize that correct treatment can be undertaken only after the real medical condition has been accurately diagnosed. Treatment of sleep apnea has been shown to improve heart function.

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Snoring is not always just a normal, annoying occurrence. If light, it may indeed be trivial. However, heavy snoring may be a symptom of a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea.

People with sleep apnea stop breathing again and again during sleep. These apneas last 10- to 90-seconds and may occur several hundred times a night. The symptoms of sleep apnea are excessive daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure and heavy snoring.

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Insomnia is a symptom that may be caused by many conditions. Some of them are psychological (chronic depression or temporary stress), environmental (noise) or physiological (chronic breathing disorder or temporary pain). Another common cause of insomnia is misuse and overuse of sleeping pills.

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Excessive Sleepiness - Narcolepsy

People who are too sleepy during the day and feel muscular weakness when they are angry, surprised or amused may have narcolepsy. Sometimes narcoleptics experience terrifying dreams or hallucinations just as they fall asleep. Narcolepsy often emerges in young adulthood and is a life-long medical disorder.

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Oxygenation Problems

When people have chronic breathing problems or lung disease, their symptoms often worsen during sleep. Complete evaluation of such respiratory diseases sometimes requires measurement of blood oxygen during sleep.

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Nocturnal Myoclonus

People who have periodic leg movements (nocturnal myoclonus) during sleep may not get proper rest and feel they have either insomnia or excessive sleepiness.

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Cannot Sleep at Proper Time

When the regular pattern of sleeping and waking is disrupted, some individuals find that it is difficult to resume a sleep-wake schedule that fits their needs.

This may be caused by shift work or other changes in schedule. Some complaints of insomnia or daytime sleepiness may be due to undiscovered changes in the sleep-wake rhythm.

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Bedwetting, Sleepwalking and Sleeptalking

These disorders are common in childhood. Bedwetting is particularly common and, in most cases, the cause is unknown. Sleepwalking also is common in childhood and can be dangerous. Sleepwalkers should be protected by reducing the risk of falling and removing other dangers from their bedroom. Sleeptalking also is common. Sleeptalking is usually incomprehensible and rarely of psychological significance. Most important is to determine whether the troublesome behavior is benign or a sign of sleep-related epileptic seizure.

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