Other Sleep Conditions
There a several different types of sleep disorders. The most common are insomnia, snoring, and sleep apnea. However, as discussed in other areas of our website, there are several other common sleep disorders, which don’t get enough attention.
One of these other sleep disorders is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS), a sleep-related breathing disorder that occurs more often in women. It also occurs more often in people who are normal weight and/or slender. Interestingly, 50% of people affected by UARS don’t even snore! For more info on UARS, please visit our UARS page.
Another common sleep disorder is sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can have devastating effects on your physical, emotional and mental health and well-being. Most adults typically require an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Children also require a sufficient amount of sleep for their growth and developmental needs. Children’s sleep needs change as they grow. For kids 10 years and under, clinical research has indicated they need at least 10 hours of sleep per night (that’s the 10/10 rule). For teenagers, 8-9 hours of sleep is typically the right amount. How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? If you have difficulty waking up in the morning and/or you feel drowsy during the day on a regular basis, you are probably not getting enough sleep.
Some very common causes of sleep disorders are anxiety disorder and depressive mood disorder. Even mild anxiety or depression can have enormous effects on sleep health. In fact, anxiety and depression are both in the top 5 reasons for chronic insomnia. What is challenging as a physician is to get people to recognize the connection between anxiety or depression and their sleep disturbance. Unfortunately, many people with mood disorders don’t get the right treatment to help them sleep better and feel better. And yet with the right treatment, the results can be dramatic and long-lasting.
When discussing Restless Legs Syndrome, some people think this is describing leg movements when they are asleep. However, that is not completely accurate. The leg movements that occur during sleep are called Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMs). Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is actually a term used to describe uncomfortable sensations that occur primarily in the legs when you are awake. These “creepy, crawly” or “achy” feelings typically occur at rest in the evening and at bedtime, and for people affected by RLS, it can keep them from getting to sleep. RLS is caused by various factors, including anemia, iron deficiency, thyroid disorders, kidney disorders, and even during pregnancy. About 50% of RLS cases are due to unidentifiable causes. In many of these cases, symptomatic treatment with dopamine agonists can provide relief. Oftentimes, these medications are taken on a regular and on-going basis when RLS is severe.
Narcolepsy is a relatively rare neurologic disorder that occurs as a result of a neuropeptide deficiency in the brain. Specifically, hypocretin deficiency has been implicated in playing a central role in the development of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is characterized by REM sleep fragmentation, unrefreshing sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Cataplexy, a muscle weakness in various parts of the body, is often present in classic cases of narcolepsy.
Interestingly, classic cases of narcolepsy are rare, but what is more common are cases of idiopathic hypersomnia. This is a fancy medical term for excessive daytime sleepiness due to an unknown cause. Idiopathic hypersomnia is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning the diagnosis is made after ruling out more common sleep disorders through a comprehensive medical work-up. Also, cataplexy is usually absent in cases of idiopathic hypersomnia.
There are a multitude of other sleep disorders, like shift work sleep disorder and irregular sleep wake disorder, but they are too many to list here. If you feel you or someone you know may have such a sleep disorder, please seek the help of your doctor or a Sleep Health physician. Sleep disorders are readily treatable, and treatment generally results in both subjective and objective improvement in physical, emotional and mental well-being in a relatively short period of time.