This WebMD slideshow details the symptoms, causes, tests, and treatments for sleep problems.
What Are Sleep Disorders?
These conditions affect how much and how well you sleep. Causes range from poor habits that keep you awake to medical problems that disrupt your sleep cycle. If you don’t feel rested in the mornings, see your doctor. Not getting enough shuteye is a serious problem that can threaten your health and safety.
Do you find it hard to get through the day without naps, even after a good night’s rest? With narcolepsy, you can’t control it and suddenly fall asleep, experiencing a “sleep attack.” Other warning signs include:
- Loss of muscle control with strong emotions
- Dream-like hallucinations as you fall asleep or wake up
- Dreams during naps
When you wake up, you might also feel like you can’t move. These things happen because you enter REM sleep so fast and skip the normal NREM stages.
Do you get out of bed and wander around at night without knowing it? Do people tell you the next morning about your crazy adventures, things you don’t remember? Sleepwalking happens when you’re moving from a deep stage to a lighter one. It’s most common in children between the ages of 4 and 8, but it can happen to anyone.
If you think you have a sleep disorder, tell your doctor. He might ask you to write down your habits for a week or two. Include:
- What time you got in and out of bed
- How long and how well you slept
- The amount of time you laid awake
- What you ate/drank (especially caffeine and alcohol) and when
- Your emotions and stress level
- A list of drugs you take
How to Get a Diagnosis
Once your doctor looks at your habits and your health, he might refer you to a sleep clinic for testing. A sleep study, or polysomnogram, records your brain activity, eye movements, and breathing. These patterns can point to 85 different possibilities, from night terrors to shift work sleep disorder.
For sleep apnea, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine keeps airways open so you can rest soundly. You can treat narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome with lifestyle changes and prescription medication. And there are drugs for insomnia, although good sleep habits can work just as well.
Anxiety makes insomnia worse, but cognitive-behavioral therapy can help ease your worries. Relaxation training and biofeedback calm your breathing, heart rate, muscles, and mood. Talk therapy can also quiet your mind.
You can do several things to prep for bedtime, and a regular workout should be a part of your plan. It’s easier to fall and stay asleep when your body’s tired. Exercise in the late afternoon though. Working up a sweat just hours before bedtime can have the opposite effect and keep you up.
SOURCE:Disorders Pictures: REM / NREM Cycle Graphs, Keeping a Diary, and More