What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders, also known as somnipathy, affect many people and come in a variety of forms. The one thing that all sleep disorders have in common is a disruption of restful sleep. In some cases, they are merely annoyances while others can become life threatening. The most common ones include insomnia, bruxism, hyponea, narcolepsy, night terrors, periodic limb movement disorder, rapid eye movement behavior disorder, sleep apnea, and others. Multiple forms can occur simultaneously.

People often try to treat sleep disorders on their own. Sleeping pills and drugs that induce sleep should not be used without a doctor’s guidance. These types of medications only mask the actual symptoms. In some cases, they may even make them worse in the long term.

Causes for Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders have a number of different causes. A lack of vitamins and minerals can cause most sleep disorders, including insomnia, rapid eye movement, sleep apnea, and others. However, prolonged stress can cause the same disorders. In some cases, even short periods of stress during traumatic events are enough to create night terrors. Sleep disorders often appear in conjunction with other health issues.

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, for instance, has been linked hormonal imbalances and stress. Food allergies can even cause a number of these disorders. This goes beyond drinking caffeine late at night and being unable to sleep. Gluten related allergies, for instance, can cause restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement in some individuals.

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

The first symptom of a sleep disorder is typically fatigue. All sleep disorders involve some level of sleep disruption, generally decreasing the overall restfulness of the night. Additional symptoms vary by the disorder, but common symptoms include muscle tension, slowed circulation, mental fog, vision loss, hair loss, weight gain, and an inability to keep warm. Rapid eye movement behavior disorder can result in broken limbs as can night terrors if you have an attack during the night and strike a wall or trip and fall down a staircase. Bruxism, on the other hand, typically leads to broken and worn teeth.

Most sleep disorders grow progressively worse. They can also be the initial signs of other health disorders or psychological issues. Night terrors, bruxism, and rapid eye movement, for instance, are often associated with post traumatic stress syndrome. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is frequently associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. As the sleep disorder worsens, the other symptoms and disorders typically worsen as well. It’s important to seek treatment as soon as the disorder starts to cause problems.

Seeking Help for Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorder Therapy
What is Sleep Disorder Therapy?

When a sleep disorder continues long enough to start causing problems functioning in day to day life or creates additional health issues, it’s necessary to seek professional attention. Many medical and psychological professionals will order a polysomnography to help diagnose the kind of sleep disorder and hopefully discover the reasons for the disorder. Multiple causes may be responsible for the disorder, and sometimes treatment may take an extended period of time. Because of the variety in sleep disorders, you can help your medical team by taking notes on your condition. Include information on the foods you have eaten, stressors affecting you, information on your sleep, and the like. This information can go a long way toward helping your medical team to properly diagnose and treat the sleep disorder affecting you. Often times, treatments will be a combination of medical and psychotherapy to fully address all of the issues present. The four primary groupings of treatments include behavioral and psychotherapeutic treatments, rehabilitation and management sessions, medical attention and medication, and somatic treatments.