Sleep is our body’s natural coping mechanism against wear and tear, it is our body’s way to rest and recharge, and sleep disorders are generally understood to be disruptions to this natural mechanism. It is a state of non-consciousness, and inactivity–all our senses are generally suspended during sleep, therefore making us less responsive to any external stimuli. It is relatively easier to recover from and definitely more reversible than coma or hibernation as observed in animals; meaning, under normal circumstances, we can easily awaken from sleep. A person should have at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep everyday so it can function well. During sleep, our body rejuvenates its immune, skeletal, nervous, and muscular and digestive systems. Having good skin and complexion has also been linked to having enough sleep. The importance of sleep cannot be stressed enough for the proper and efficient function of the human body. Sleep deprivation and disorders will definitely take their toll on a person’s productivity and basic daily functions.
A sleep disorder should therefore not be taken too lightly. While some sleep disturbances are temporary, other types of sleep disorders might be potentially more serious than they may appear. There are several medical conditions which can lead to sleep disorder. Aside from sleep deprivation, which is in itself is already a problem; sleep disorders can also be signs of more serious physical and emotional conditions. There are many types of sleep disorders; there can be sleep disorders in adults and sleep disorders in children. Types of sleep disorders are generally classified into three categories, namely, lack of sleep, disturbed sleep, and excessive sleep.
The more popular type of sleep disorder under the category lack of sleep is called Insomnia. Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder where there is difficulty in falling or remaining asleep. Patients usually complain of the inability to fall asleep. And when they do get to sleep, patients find it hard to maintain sleep, oftentimes waking up in the middle of the night. A lot of insomnia cases are linked to patients’ personal and environmental stressful conditions, and the condition is observed more in adults than in children.
The next type of sleep disorder, disturbed sleep, has more varied sub-types. One of the more prevalent an potentially life threatening is sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by pause or interrupted breathing while sleeping. The patient may go on years without being aware he or she has the condition. Sleep apnea has been associated with fatigue and sleepiness while awake, even as the patient had seemingly complete hours of sleep the previous night.
The third type of sleep disorder, excessive sleep, is medically known as narcolepsy. It is a neurological condition where patient sleeps in abnormally long hours of sleep. Narcolepsy is also characterized by an uncontrollable urge to go to sleep during inappropriate times within the day, regardless if the patient has enough sleep the previous night. People with narcolepsy can also experience hallucinations at the onset of sleep called hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis for a brief time after waking up, and muscle weakness or paralysis.
Other types of sleep disorders not discussed here but are also commonly widely experienced include snoring, restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movements of sleep, and bed wetting or enuresis, among others.