Sleep disorders in adults are a common affliction that cannot simply be defined by just restless nights and unsatisfactory sleep. People can suffer from one of many disruptive and dangerous conditions – including Insomnia, Sleep Paralysis, Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg syndrome, Narcolepsy and circadian rhythm disorders – and this guide is designed to give a brief explanation of each syndrome and their related problems.
Insomnia is the condition that people probably think about the most when it comes to sleep disorders in adults, because so many will have experienced it at some point in their lives. Insomnia comes in either Acute or Chronic form and is either the result of a psychological issue like stress or a complication from one of many potential health issue. Insomnia can be experienced by anybody – but especially women and Caucasians – and signs to watch out for are poor sleep patterns, irritability, depression and daytime fatigue. Fortunately the condition has as many forms of treatment as it does groups at risk, so finding a remedy is easier with this condition then others.
Sleep Apnea is again a common sleep problems in adults, but one that is easily misunderstood. In simple terms can be described as chronic, extreme snoring, but it is much more dangerous than that, in fact it can be life threatening. This is because the intensity of the problem can make the sufferer stop breathing entirely. Many of the causes and signs of Sleep Apnea relate to those of snoring, and in many cases the disorder can be misdiagnosed. While lifestyle changes can alleviate the severity, the best treatment – without having to resort to surgery – is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, a mask that creates a constant air flow. Hypopnea Syndrome has a similarly negative impact on breathing, with respiratory rates slowing down and breathing becoming more shallow.
One of the less severe sleep disorders in adults, but one that is no less annoying is restless leg syndrome. This condition is diagnosed by an urge to move one’s leg due to an unbearable urge or tingling sensation, and is triggered at night. While scientists are currently uncertain of the cause of the condition, there is evidence for a genetic link and it can be aggravated by medication. Sufferers could also be experiencing Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, aka Nocturnal Myoclonus, which also involves involuntary movements. Other disorders expressed through similar involuntary movements are REM sleep disorder, where the afflicted acts out their violent dreams, and Parasomnias like sleep-walking and night-terrors.
Returning from the disruptive to the dangerous, there is also Narcolepsy. With this condition, the individual can experience ‘sleep attacks’ during the day, muscle weakness and drowsiness when feeling strong emotions, vivid dreams and paralysis before and after sleep. Unlike insomnia the causes are purely neurological – a possible cause being insufficient production of hypocretin and orexin – and can only be treated with drug therapy and special sleep patterns. Sleep paralysis – when severe – can be considered a disorder of its own, and in some cases people can also suffer from Cataplexy, where they experience the loss of muscle control and collapse, but without falling asleep.
Finally, there are a number of conditions resulting from a disorder in the body’s circadian rhythm. This is any condition where the natural body clock is impaired and a regular sleeping pattern cannot be established. Jet lag and shift work with inconsistent hours can have such a negative effect, and if these irregularities become a common occurrence, a disorder could manifest itself. Other triggers include depression and SAD. Circadian rhythm disorders include Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, each resulting in shift in sleeping pattern away from the norm. The Delayed form of the conditions is regularly seen within teenagers but they tend to grow out of it. If the condition does, however, proceed into adulthood then there is the option of behavioral therapy or medication involving melatonin.
This is an overview of the types of the many sleep disorder conditions that can be experienced, as you can see there are some similarities in symptoms so attempting to self-diagnosis can be problematic. Should you feel that you may be suffering from any of these sleep disorders in adults, take a look at the further information available and consult a doctor.