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Sleep Disorders

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Sleep Disorder -- A Growing Concern in the United States

In the United States alone, it is estimated that approximately 60 -- 80 million
people have some form of sleep disorder. This number continues to rise. Several
of the reasons for the increasing numbers are the aging of the American
population, the change in our lifestyle and the obesity epidemic. Of course
there are other factors that can lead to a sleep disorder, such as, stress,
shift work, illness or genetics.

There are more than 100 different types of sleep disorders. They range in
severity from minor to life threatening. People of any age, from infants to the
aged, can be affected by a sleep disorder at any time of their lives.

As sleep disorders increase in the United States, so do the dangers that are
associated with them. Tiredness can lead to slower mental alertness and a
slower reaction time. This can be a very dangerous combination. Between 20 --
25% of all serious vehicular accidents involve a tired driver. Many of these
drivers suffer from some form of sleep disorder and may not even be aware of
it. A large number of accidents that occur at home or at work are also due to
people with some type of sleeping problem. Sleep disorder, combined with the
cost of the accidents and illnesses it causes, results in the American people
and the government spending billions of dollars.

Lack of sleep is directly related to many physical ailments and conditions.
People that do not get sufficient sleep generally suffer more form headaches,
sore joints and stomach problems. Often a sleep disorder is an underlying cause
of heart problems, lung conditions and diabetes. Sleep disorders can also affect
the mental well being of people stricken with them. Mood changes, anxiety,
eating disorders and depression can result.

Many people still do not think of a sleeping problem as a medical problem.
Because of this, many never tell their physician that they are having a problem
with sleep. Even if they see their doctor on a regular basis for an illness or
condition, they never mention their difficulty sleeping.

As the American public and medical community become more educated and aware of
the symptoms, effects and severity of various sleep disorders, more and more
cases are being diagnosed. Sufferers are being treated with medication, oxygen,
cpap machines and even surgery. There are better screening methods and
diagnostic tests which find sleep disorder problems earlier. Overnight sleep
centers no longer resemble a hospital room. They are now designed to look more
like a hotel room, to make the patient feel more comfortable. In some cases,
due to computerization and miniaturization, equipment can be so small that some
testing can even be done at home.

Sleep is not an option or a luxury. It is a basic element of living and of good
health. If you think you, your partner or your child may be suffering from a
sleep disorder see your physician. A sleep disorder is a medical problem that
can be helped.

How to Tell If You Have a Sleep Disorder

There are many people that have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. They may feel
very sleepy during the day. They may have trouble falling to sleep or staying
asleep. Friends or relatives may tell them they look very tired. They may
experience mood changes, irritability or become overly emotional. Often they
have difficulty paying attention, concentrating, or remembering things that are
important. These are all symptoms of sleep deprivation, and possibly of a sleep

A person that has an undiagnosed sleep disorder will usually answer the
question, "What is the problem with your sleep," with one of five answers.
Those answers will be; "I have trouble falling asleep," " I have trouble
staying awake," "I can't get up in the morning," "I seem to do strange things
in my sleep" or "I can't sleep because of my partner." The particular answer
chosen helps to narrow down the possibility of a specific type of sleep

When someone says "I can't fall asleep" it can mean several things. There could
be a problem when first going to bed, after waking up in the middle of the
night, or in the early morning hours. Many people have the problem of not being
able to fall asleep when they go to bed. This is called sleep latency. Sleep
latency can be a very serious symptom of certain sleep disorders, including
sleep onset insomnia, delayed sleep phase disorder, shift work, restless leg
syndrome or paradoxical insomnia. Many times the problem is not being able to
stay asleep, which is sleep fragmentation. Often a person with this complaint
can fall to sleep easily when they go to bed, but wake up often throughout the
night. Sleep disorders may include sleep maintenance insomnia, shift work. If a
person wakes up very early in the morning and cannot get back to sleep, it could
be a sign of advanced sleep phase disorder or sleep maintenance insomnia.

If the answer to the question is "I can't stay awake" and the person is falling
asleep at inappropriate times there may be a sleep disorder such as narcolepsy ,
obstructive or central sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, restless
leg syndrome, shift work or advanced sleep phase disorder.

Those that say "I can't get up in the morning" and take an hour or more to
fully wake from their sleep may suffer from excessive sleep inertia. They are
having difficulty making the transition from sleep to being awake. Sleep
disorders that could be responsible for excessive sleep inertia are sleep apnea
and delayed sleep phase disorder.

A person that answers the question with "I do strange things in my sleep" may
find that their sleep is full of surprises. Sleepwalking, Sleep terrors,
confusional arousals, REM sleep behavior disorder, nightmares, sleep-related
eating disorder and bruxism are all types of sleep disorders known as

If a person answers "I can't sleep because of my partner" snoring, sleep apnea,
bruxism, restless leg syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder may be the
sleep disorder to blame.

How would you answer the question of "What is the problem with your sleep?"

Sleeping Disorders: The History

When we hear about sleeping disorders we're commonly hearing about those who
sleepwalk and can't sleep which is known as insomnia, but often we wonder why
sleeping disorders are becoming a prominent issue in today's society. Right now
according to the website Wikipedia there are a total of 14 different disorders
ranging from eye twitching to restless legs. Some of these problems are
treatable and even preventable when monitored by a doctor or specialized health
professional. Sleeping disorders can be extremely dangerous when they go
undiagnosed. Many people who are suffering from this disorder are facing a lot
of life threatening problems because having a sleeping disorder can disrupt you
from living your normal everyday life.

This can overtake someone if they're spending more time worrying about their
condition than getting the correct amount of sleep. The problem with many
people who are dealing with a sleeping disorder is that they're not aware of it
being a problem until they see it's affecting their job and everyday life. Those
who suffer from this can also develop clinical depression because they feel like
they're not able to do any of the things they're used to doing if they've been
diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

Individuals are given a test called the Polysomnogram which is used to
determine and diagnose sleep disorders so specialists and doctors can plan a
treatment designed for that individual person since not all treatments are the
same. According to Wikipedia they list the common treatment options for
sleeping disorders are: behavioral/psychotherapeutic, medications (Rozerem,
Ambien, Ambien CR and Lunesta are common prescribed sleeping pills given for
those diagnosed with a sleeping disorder), and other somatic treatments that
are given. Sometimes people who have disorders such as narcolepsy usually have
their brain activity measured to see where they are reaching peak points of
sleeping so they can be treated since narcoleptics can't really work on jobs
that require them to operate machinery or other things because they have to be
alert and awake to know what they're doing.

Many people who are currently diagnosed with a sleeping disorder are usually
treated medicinally for whatever time period the doctor prescribes and monitors
the person's condition for. Having a sleeping disorder can make people feel like
they're not normal and that they're sick when it's not a sickness and that you
can treat the problem through medicine and proper therapy to retrain your body
to sleep on a normal scale.

The average person sleeps anywhere between 6-8 hours, but the most anyone
sleeps is 10 hours. It's noted that people who sleep more than the regular
number of hours tend to throw their bodies off due to the fact that naturally
we sleep and awake when the day changes. It's ideal to get the right amount of
rest because of the fact that your immune system can stress out when you don't
get any kind of rest which can also trigger other medical and health issues
from the lack of rest.

This can be a problem with mostly younger people because you find that
lifestyles in this day and age trigger the use of drugs, drinking, smoking, and
a poor diet consisting of a lot of unhealthy food choices and a lack of exercise
and maintaining physical health.

Insomnia -- The Most Prevalent Form of Sleep Disorder

Insomnia, a most common sleep disorder, affects about one third of the American
population and is classified two different ways. It can be classified by how
long it lasts. Transient insomnia lasts for only a few days, short term lasts
for a few weeks and chronic lasts for more then three weeks. The other way
insomnia is classified is by its source. The main two classifications of this
sleep disorder by source are primary and secondary.

Transient insomnia is experienced by most people at some time throughout their
lives. It can be caused by stress such as worrying about the first day school
or an illness in the family. Sometimes this sleep disorder occurs due to a
disruption of their circadian cycle, which is a persons natural sleep cycle,
caused by jet lag or a shift change at work. Transient insomnia goes away one
the stress issue has passed. Short term insomnia is often caused by similar
stressors as transient insomnia. If the sufferer of this sleep disorder cannot
break the cycle of poor sleep, it often develops into chronic insomnia.

Primary insomnia develops without any obvious cause. Sometimes it starts as
early as infancy. Often it is the result of high metabolic rates or an
overactive nervous system.

Secondary insomnia is the direct result of another cause. This sleep disorder
can come from illness, medication, drugs or alcohol. Addressing the underlying
cause of secondary insomnia often gives the sufferer relief. For example, if
arthritis pain keeps you from sleeping, then treating the arthritis is the best
way to cope with the sleep disorder.

Insomnia is not a single disorder. It is a general symptom and could have many
potential causes. In order to qualify as a sleep disorder, insomnia has to meet
three specific requirements. First, the person has to experience poor sleep in
general, or have a problem falling or staying asleep. Second, if given the
proper sleep environment and an adequate opportunity to sleep, the problem
still occurs. Third, the result of the poor sleep causes some type of
impairment while awake. Examples of an impairment are; fatigue, body aches and
pains, inability to concentrate, mood changes, lack of energy, poor
concentration, or developing an unnatural amount of worry about sleep.

Often insomnia is treated with medication, such as sleeping pills. These can be
prescription medication or bought over the counter.

However, there are several other methods of treatment for this sleep disorder.
Behavioral treatments include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep
breathing, visualization, biofeedback, sleep hygiene, cognitive behavioral
therapy and reconditioning sleep restriction. These methods are often very

Some sufferers of this sleep disorder choose holistic, or alternative,
treatment. This method involves the use of herbal supplements which are not
usually FDA approved. Others seek acupuncture as a way to relieve their
insomnia. Passive body heating, which is the use of hot baths, is another
method used.

Understanding this sleep disorder is the first step to breaking the cycle of

Medications Used for the Sleep Disorder of Chronic Insomnia

People that suffer from the sleep disorder of chronic insomnia must decide
whether or not they are going to take a sleep medication. This decision is
usually made with their physician. Many people decide to take a sleeping pill
because it offers relief from the symptoms of their sleep disorder and the
extreme sleepiness they are always feeling. Taking a pill can improve how they
fell and also the quality of their life. However, many people worry about the
side effects and health risks that come with taking sleeping pills. Sleeping
pills are among the most widely used drugs in the United States, and their use
continues to increase.

The types of sleep medications that are available to people with insomnia fall
into two categories, prescription and over-the-counter medications. Each sleep
medication affects the body differently. The effectiveness of the sleeping pill
is a major factor when dealing with sufferers of this sleep disorder. How
quickly the pill will take effect and how long the effect will last are very
important. The effect should match the individual's sleep problem. The fast
acting drugs would benefit a person who has difficulty falling asleep while a
longer lasting pill would better benefit someone who has difficulty staying
asleep. Other important factors concerning medications for people with this
sleep disorder include the impact the medication has on sleep quality, the
tolerance that a person has for the drug, the possibility of developing a
dependence on the drug, and the side effects associated with the drug. Each of
these points has to be considered when deciding to take sleep medication for
chronic insomnia.

Many over-the-counter sleep medications contain some type of antihistamine as a
primary active ingredient. Antihistamines are widely used to treat allergies and
they are also effective in helping people fall asleep. However, there has been
little research done on their long-term effectiveness or safety.

Prescription medications for the sleep disorder of chronic insomnia are
classified into four general groups: benzodiazepine receptor agonists,
antidepressants, melatonin receptor agonists, and barbiturates. Each one of
these drug groups has specific benefits in regards to treating insomnia.
However, it is very important that the right type of for chronic insomnia
medication is prescribed for each individual person with this sleep disorder.

Before choosing a sleeping medication, it is very important to determine the
source of the insomnia. For example, perhaps the source of the insomnia is the
result of another treatable illness, or a side effect of a medication that is
taken. The insomnia is then called secondary insomnia. The focus on medication
should then be on the primary illness. Often the insomnia will disappear once
the underlying cause is treated.

The decision of whether or not to take sleep mediation for chronic insomnia has
to be a personal decision. There is no right or wrong decision. However, it is
important, if the choice is to take a medication for this sleep disorder, to
become as educated as possible about the medication prescribed.

Insomnia in popular culture

Insomnia has been a featured disorder from many factors such as books and
movies. Two cult classics one is a book titled Insomnia written by horror
novelist Stephen King and the other is the Robert DeNiro film from 1976 Taxi
Driver. There have been 28 songs written and recorded about insomnia and among
the artists who recorded a song were Vanessa Carlton, Green Day, Radiohead, and
Tenacious D. The most popular film based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel that was a
hit about 6 years ago was Fight Club with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt and the
lead character was manic insomniac. This seems to be the most common form of
sleeping disorder to the point that movies and songs were made about this

People aren't aware that this is a problematic issue for those who suffer from
this. It's not healthy to go without sleep because it can affect your immune
system making you prone to catching things like the flu and colds. Not getting
any rest can cause severe disorientation because your body wasn't given an
opportunity to rest and recuperate.

This is what drove the designer coffee movement up like the sprawl of coffee
shops from Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, Seattle's Best, and Caribou Coffee since
you had a lot of late nighters consisting of mainly people working in hospitals
and college students who had to pull late nighters and cram sessions and needed
to stay awake so when coffee wasn't working they bought this over the counter
pill called Vivarin which is equal to about 2 cups of coffee when you take the
prescribed dosage.

It's usually not a good idea to take Vivarin because it can interfere with your
body's ability to sleep and rest normally. You'll find more college students
getting sick a lot because they're forcing their bodies to do things that isn't
normal like staying up super late and not getting at least 6 hours of sleep.
Rest also provides your body's digestive system to rest which makes up about
70% of your immune system so it's ideal to sleep when necessary and taking
short naps also work as a re-energizer to give you a burst of energy that works
much better than coffee or caffeine pills.

That can become resistant since a lot of coffee drinkers tend to get very tired
after a certain point and that's due in part to the fact that you build up a
resistance after having a few cups of coffee or cans of Coke so meaning it
won't keep you awake it will accelerate the rate of how fast you'll start to
feel sleepy.

So seeing pop culture idolize such a disorder is unknown unless the person who
wrote the book or penned the song has a problem with it and decided to write or
sing about it. The reason for it is unknown, but it's rather interesting since a
song can tell a story and the same of a book, but it's obviously influenced a
slew of songs, a few movies and a series of books where the characters are
suffering from some kind of sleeping disorder from mild to severe.

Fatal Familial Insomnia

This is probably by far one of the rarest forms of sleeping disorders around.
This is an inherited disorder that has only been found in 28 families in the
world that have the dominant gene for it. The offspring of a parent(s) of
developing the disorder is about 50% and there is no cure for this. The age of
onset is around the ages between 30 and 60 and the disorder's time frame runs
between 7 to 18 months. This disease has 4 stages that it goes through and 1st
stage of the disease starts off with the sufferer dealing with increased
insomnia leading to severe panic attacks, and various kinds of phobias, this
stage lasts about 4 months, 2nd stage sufferer deals with hallucinations and
panic attacks become more obvious and lasts about 5 months, 3rd stage Complete
and total inability to sleep. And follows with drastic weight loss and lasts
about 3 months, 4th stage Dementia sets in and progressively becoming
irresponsive and mute over a course of 6 months and this is the final
progression of the disease.

This sounds a lot like Alzheimer's because if you notice the time frame it's a
lot less shorter than the actual time span of someone who deals with
Alzheimer's because the sufferer is dealing with it for several years instead
of a year where the disease progressively degenerates the mental capacity to
such a degree that the sufferer has a hard time with memory.

As far as treatment is concerned sleeping pills don't have any effect for
people suffering from Fatal Familial Insomnia and not even non-medicinal
therapy doesn't work either. Medical science has no idea why it's a fatal
disease and how they can create effective treatment options to combat this
problem. And more effective genetic testing for diseases that are inherited to
find out what can be done medicinally and therapeutically to deal with this
sleeping disorder.

It's a matter of how much attention the medical world takes note of this and
pushes the funding to finding a cure and effective genetic testing of families
and tracking diseases through the generations to be able to have some kind of
record of the disease passing down through generations or skipping generations
which is what some diseases have done in some families for those who have a
disposition for certain things.

This doesn't get nearly as much attention as all the other sleeping disorders
because of it being rare, and only turning up in so many people and births
making it not rare enough for it to get the recognition as regular insomnia and
to qualify for the treatments. That are currently out there to help those 60
million people who are dealing with some kind of sleeping disorder(s).

With the way medical science is going it will be a matter of time before
medical science catches up and helps the many people who are looking for a cure
of being deprived of a restful night's sleep. The moment a cure is found is one
more person who will be helped to have a good night's rest.

Sleep Disorder and Teenagers

There is a sleep disorder that affects between seven to ten percent of
teenagers called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, also known as DNS. Most
teenagers outgrow this disorder by the time they reach young adulthood. Less
then one percent of adults are believed to have DSP. Often people mistake this
sleep disorder for insomnia.

Left on their own, people with delayed sleep phase disorder would stay up until
very late, sometimes until 4 or 5 a.m. They like to get up very late in the
morning or early afternoon. Often they are referred to as night owls.

Many teenagers like to stay up late and sleep late in the morning. Sometimes
this is because they want to socialize at that time of the day. However, it can
also be due to the natural delay in the circadian sleep / wake rhythm at their
age of development.

Teenagers with this sleep disorder often have a very hard time getting up in
the morning for school. Even if they go to sleep at a regular time, such as 11
p.m., they toss and turn for hours like someone with insomnia. They difference
is, unlike an insomniac, people with delayed sleep phase disorder have no
difficulty staying asleep. They do have a very difficult time getting up early
in the morning. Teenagers with this sleep disorder are very tired during the
day and may even fall asleep in the classroom. The exact cause of this sleep
disorder is not known. It is known for certain that it is a circadian rhythm

Treatment for this sleep disorder is available for people that need to get onto
a more traditional sleep / wake schedule. The types of treatment include, bright
light, chronotherapy, melatonin and over- the-counter prescribed sleeping pills.

Bright light treatment for delayed sleep phase disorder uses bright light to
trick the brain's circadian clock . Exposure to bright light shifts the
circadian rhythm if it is administered within a few hours of the body's lowest
temperature at night.

Using chronotherapy as a treatment for someone with delayed sleep phase
disorder requires a block of time one week long. Each day bedtime is delayed by
three hours successively. For example, for someone that falls asleep at 2 a.m.
but wants to fall asleep at 11. p.m., their bedtime would move to 5 a.m. on the
first day. The next day it would move to 8 a.m. and continue this cycle for a
week. A teenager suffering with delayed sleep phase disorder would need a week
off from school in order to complete this therapy. Once the desired bed time is
reached it is very important to keep a consistent wake up time.

There are several treatments involving various drugs that are used to treat
delayed sleep phase disorder. Melatonin has been successful in changing the
sleep cycle of people with this sleep disorder. Prescription medication such as
Ramelteon, and other sleeping pills, have been successful in treating teenagers
and adults with delayed sleep phase disorder.

If your teenager has trouble falling asleep and always wants to stay up late,
be aware of the possibility that a sleep disorder may be present.

Sleep Disorder Affecting Shift Workers

This is a fairly common form of sleeping disorder among medical professionals,
police officers, and fireman. This is attributed mostly to people who change
their work schedules and sleeping times around frequently. You'll find this
often in college students when they're changing semesters and quarters when
they get new schedules and can sometimes throw sleep patterns off.

Meaning if you were used to getting up early one semester and then you get to
sleep late on another it can throw your sleeping patterns off, which can make
you feel disoriented and confused which is the main cause for why people get up
and retire late, and are late for their jobs and classes because they're not
giving themselves enough time to adjust between schedule changes.

This is why when a job or school schedules changes it's ideal to give yourself
adequate time to make the adjustment so that it doesn't throw you off
physically, so you're able to wake up and retire at a reasonable time so you
can make it to work and school on time.

This is why it's not always wise to constantly change your schedule whenever
possible because if you do it too much you're going to confuse yourself on
whether you're coming or going. There are some people who's jobs switch their
schedules around so much that it can throw someone completely out of synch
because the hours start to get rather conflicted when they're coming and going
and not making time for other things like having a life or maintaining their
priorities outside of their job and school.

This also can happen if you're running between more than one job and school
because if you're going to a job during the day and then running to another job
at night it can throw you off as well. People are advised to give themselves so
much time between things in order to make the full transition into the new
schedule or time frame so they're not feeling overwhelmed and stressed out
since stress can play a huge thing in work related insomnia. The stress comes
from having to make so many drastic changes too fast and at one time.

This is why people get burned out quickly and dealing with the physical things
like indigestion and other things because they're pushing themselves too hard
and sometimes forcing themselves to do things that isn't even normal and is
considered unhealthy.

College students who are like this tending to gain or lose weight because of
the stress they're under to switch from one thing to another and not giving
themselves a chance to really adjust fully to a schedule or lifestyle change.
Even people who work as nurses and doctors occasionally go through this.
Because hours are rather strange, and that can throw off the pattern your body
has become custom to when to rise and retire and if you interfere with that, it
can make you feel weird which can also affect appetite and mental focus and
concentration which most people deal with the disorientation of switching
things around too fast.

Sleep Apnea: A Weighty Issue

Sleep apnea is the condition for where there are pauses in breathing during
sleep. These are defined by medical terminology when an individual literally
stops breathing. There are two types of apneas Central and Obstructive. This is
a common problem among the morbidly obese which requires them to wear an oxygen
mask so they can breathe since that's due in part of their weight bearing down
on their chest crushing their rib cage and lungs.

According to medical reports the population at risk are obese middle-aged males
since physiology doesn't make women potential sufferers of sleep apnea. The
problem is that people who do fall asleep due to sleep apnea will go through
brief periods where people think they're not going to wake up. Keep in mind
that this is very serious because if it's not properly diagnosed it can be life
threatening. People with excessive weight usually morbidly obese constantly have
to deal with frequent episodes of paused breathing. Snoring is a common problem
with the morbidly obese and constant gasping for air while sleeping is another
problem. Obstructive sleep apnea can be dangerous to the heart because it's
prolonging and deprivation of oxygen to keep the circulation flowing

Other symptoms that are deemed non-specific are headaches, irritability,
moodiness, difficulty concentrating, Noctoria (getting up in the middle of the
night to urinate), increased urination, decreased sexual drive, increased heart
rate, anxiety, depression, esophageal reflux (acid reflux disease), and profuse
heavy sweating at night.

Sleep apnea has also been linked to congestive and congenital heart failure
usually found in people who are diagnosed as morbidly obese because of the
excessive weight on them. This is from severe and prolonged cases meaning the
individual(s) were not being treated and had let the condition get to the point
that it's no longer treatable.

Individuals born with Down's Syndrome are likely to develop obstructive sleep
apnea since 50% of the population that has this genetic condition are likely to
be diagnosed because of having an enlarged head, adenoids, tonsils, tongue, and
narrowing of the nasopharnyx. Pharyngeal flap surgery has also been noted to
cause sleep apnea in patients because of the obstruction in the breathing
pattern after surgery which if not monitored can be life threatening. There are
different treatments for people with sleep apnea and doctors and ENT (Ear Nose
and Throat) specialists take the following into consideration for designing a
treatment plan for those who are diagnosed with this condition.

The factors that are considered are an individual's medical history, severity
of the disorder, and the specific cause for the obstruction. Some treatments
also incorporate a lifestyle change, avoiding alcohol and medications that can
relax the nervous system.

Other lifestyle changes is losing weight and quitting smoking, and incorporate
things like elevating themselves while sleeping so that they can breathe using
slanted pillows. The weight issue is the biggest lifestyle concern because that
causes some people to be confined to beds where they can't move and be active
contributing further into a person's weight gain.

Usually if someone who's morbidly obese and loses about 50 pounds within a
couple months their condition improves, but it's usually up to a steady support
system to get someone on a set routine and healthy eating plan that helps to get
their weight down so they can qualify for other treatments to help them maintain
weight loss which is either through gastric bypass which has to be strongly
enforced since this surgery is irreversible and you have to eat differently and
undergo a major lifestyle change. The other option is lap band, which is
reversible, but again to maintain the weight loss to improve sleep and
breathing patterns comes with monitoring what one eats and exercise to help
improve breathing patterns.

Sleep Apnea -- A Sleep Disorder That Can Be Fatal

Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can be life threatening and at
times fatal. People with sleep apnea often fall asleep normally; however, once
asleep their ability to breathe is blocked. Usually this inability to breathe
is caused by the muscles in the throat relaxing too much and collapsing into
the airway. The body then sends a signal to the brain that breathing has
temporarily been blocked. This causes the person to wake up and start breathing

The cycle of interrupted breathing can occur many times throughout the night.
These episodes can occur up to 50 times an hour and last for ten seconds or
longer. Often the person that suffers from this sleep disorder is unaware that
anything is happening to them. They can not understand why they always feel
tired during the daytime.

The most common form of this sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea, known
as OSA. Some sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea also suffer from cental sleep
apnea. This sleep disorder is then called mixed sleep apnea.

It is believed that obstructive sleep apnea affects between 18 -- 20% of the
adults in the United States. If this sleep disorder is left untreated in can
become life threatening and in rare cases fatal. It is the underlaying cause of
illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, pulmonary hypertension and systemic

There are several method of treatments for sleep apnea, both surgical and
noninvasive. The first line of therapy for someone suffering from moderate to
severe sleep apnea is called positive airway pressure. Known as PAP, positive
airway pressure is a noninvasive form of treatment. A machine delivers a
constant flow of air through a mask that is worn while sleeping. The force of
the air flow must be determined by a sleep technician during an overnight sleep
study. There are three types of positive air pressure therapy, CPAP, BiPAP and

Dental devices are also used to treat this sleep disorder in mild to moderate
cases. Dental devices fall into two general categories: mandibular, or lower
jaw, advancing devices or tongue retaining devices. Mandibular devices are used
most often. They attach to the upper jaw and pull the lower jaw and base of the
tongue forward. This shift in position keeps the airway open.

Medications are generally not a successful form of treatment for most people
with sleep apnea. However, many of them do take antidepressants and mondafinal.

Supplemental oxygen is often used in conjunction with a PAP machine. Oxygen
alone can not prevent the collapse of the airway or sleep fragmentation.
However, oxygen can prevent the drop in the level of blood oxygen that occurs
when the airway collapses.

There are also surgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea that may be an
option for some sufferers of this sleep disorder. These include
uvulopalatophrayngoplasty, somnoplasty, corrective jaw surgery, palatal
implants and tracheostomy.

People with this sleep disorder generally find that their quality of life can
improve with the proper treatment.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Many people that work during the night suffer from Shift Work Sleep Disorder,
also known as SWSD. This disorder affects about one quarter of the
approximately 20 million people who do shift work. People affected by shift
work sleep disorder are employed in many types of jobs. These include large
numbers of workers in industries such as transportation, manufacturing, mining,
power, health care, and emergency services including police and firefighters and
EMTs. Many of these industries operate around the clock and many various shift
schedules exist.

Working a shift job forces your body to function outside if it natural
circadian rhythm. Their circadian rhythms never become fully adjusted to their
hours. No matter how long a person works at night, when they are greeted by the
morning sunlight a signal is sent to their brain saying it is time to wake up. A
person suffering from this sleep disorder lives in a state of constant circadian

There are several coping strategies for people with shift work sleep disorder.
The most important thing to remember when coping with the challenges of shift
work is recognizing the importance of sleep and making it a priority.

Sleeping during the daytime can be very difficult for some people. Besides
going against the body's natural circadian rhythm, there are also the sunlight
and the everyday life of the rest of the world, most of which is awake. Many
people with this sleep disorder move their bedroom to an isolated place in the
house and try to make the room as quiet and dark as possible.

It is best to try to avoid as much of the morning sunlight as possible if you
plan to go to sleep right after your night shift. Wear sunglasses on the way
home and try not to stop for gas or groceries. The more sunlight you are
exposed to, the more likely you are going to have a difficult time falling

Another coping technique is to develop a sleep strategy. It is very important
to set a specific time to sleep. Many people that suffer from shift work sleep
disorder find it is best to follow the same sleep routine even on the days they
are off from work. It is essential that family and friends know not to bother
you during your sleep time unless it is an emergency. Generally, shift workers
are chronically sleep deprived. Scheduling naps at specific times can be a
great help in dealing with the sleep disorder that accompanies shift work.

People with this sleep disorder should limit the amount of caffeine during the
later part of their shift. Some people establish a caffeine cutoff time, after
that they drink juice or water.

The use of sleeping pills for shift workers can develop into a dependency on
them. Taking sleeping pills on a daily basis can lead to other health problems.

Not everyone is able to tolerate working during the night. The constant battle
with this sleep disorder may cause some people to find a different job.

Nocturnal Eating Syndrome -- A Food Related Sleep Disorder

Nocturnal eating syndrome is a sleep disorder that is more common in women than
men. It is one of two eating disorders that are related to sleep. The other is
called sleep-related food disorder. Nocturnal eating syndrome and sleep-related
food disorder are parasomnias

Nocturnal eating syndrome is a sleep disorder that is characterized by
compulsive raids on the refrigerator at night. Usually people with this sleep
disorder are very light sleepers. When they awake during the night they have an
overly compulsive feeling that they will not be able to fall back to sleep
unless they eat something. Once out of bed and at the refrigerator, the
compulsion to eat makes them gobble down food. People with nocturnal eating
syndrome are fully awake and remember eating the food the next day. This
syndrome is a combination of a sleep disorder and an eating disorder. Insomnia
is also a factor in nocturnal eating syndrome. Treatment for this disorder is
usually received from a mental health professional that specializes in people
with eating disorders. Improving sleep hygiene can also help with this disorder.

Sleep-related eating disorder also affects more women then men and is a
variation of sleepwalking. During an episode of this sleep disorder, a person
will eat during partial arousal form a deep sleep. Often they will eat very
unhealthy or strange foods that they normally would not eat when awake. During
an episode of sleep-related eating disorder, a person might eat frozen pizza,
raw cookie dough, peanut butter on fish and even dog food. Often they are very
careless and sloppy and may get burns or cuts while preparing the food. It is
very difficult to wake a person during an episode and they have no memory of it
in the morning. There does not seem to be a correlation to hunger during a
sleep-related eating disorder episode, even if the person has eaten just before
bed, an episode can still occur.

Although the cause of food related sleep disorder is not known, several
triggers have been identified. Medications such as lithium, a mood stabilizer,
and the benzodiazepine receptor zolpidem are two of those triggers. People with
mood and personality disorders or psychological problems such as bulimia are at
higher risk of developing one of these food related sleep disorders. People
suffering from other sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, periodic
limb movement disorder or narcolepsy are also at higher risk

People with sleep-related eating disorder usually have a history of
sleepwalking. Because of this, people suffering from this parasomnina are
considered having more of a sleep disorder then an eating disorder. Treatment
with prescription medication is often very effective. Antidepressants, dopimine
agents, anticonvulsants and opiates are often prescribed. Once sleepwalking is
stopped so are the trips to the refrigerator.

Sleep eaters often are overweight because of the high caloric intake at night.
The weight gain can lead to other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep
apnea. Seeking treatment, either from a medical or mental health professional
is essential for good health in the treatment of sleep eating disorders.

Nightmares and Night Terrors -- A Frightening Sleep Disorder

At some time in their childhood almost all children experience the sleep
disorder of having a nightmare. They are common in children and can begin as
early as two years old. They are most common in children between three and
twelve years old and are considered part of the normal developmental process.
However, only about 3 percent, experience night terrors, also called sleep
terrors. Both of these sleep disorders can be very frightening to a child.

Nightmares are dreams that are so frightening that they wake the person up.
Everyone has had nightmares occasionally throughout their life and they usually
are not something to worry about. Nightmares occur several hours after going to
sleep during the REM stage of sleep when there is general body paralysis and
active dreaming.

A child can remember the nightmare once they awake and they still remember it
in the morning. Sometimes this nightmare sleep disorder can become a problem if
the child has nightmares very often and becomes afraid to go to sleep or becomes
sleep deprived. When a nightmare occurs it is important that the parent remains
calm and reassuring.

There are several things that a parent can do to prevent nightmares. Discuss
calm and comforting things with your child just before putting then to bed.
Reading to them, or telling them a story can also be very comforting. Don't let
a child watch violent or scary shows on television, especially just before going
to bed. Maintaining a relaxing bedtime routine is also important. Sometimes,
nightmares indicate a more severe emotional problem within your child.

Night terrors usually occur during the first few hours of sleep, during deep
non-REM sleep. They often occur at the same time each night. Night terrors are
characterized by screaming, crying or moaning. It is not unusual for a child
experiencing a night terror to sit straight up in bed and scream. Their heart
rate is increased and they experience rapid breathing. An episode of this sleep
disorder can last from 10 minutes to over an hour. Although the child's eyes are
open, they are actually still asleep and when they wake up in the morning there
is no memory of what happened during the night.

Although night terrors can be frightening, they are not dangerous. They usually
are not a sign of any type of mental distress. A parent should not try to wake
the child, or comfort them, during a night terror. The best thing for a parent
to do when their child is experiencing a night terror is to make sure they are
safe. Generally, most children outgrow this sleep disorder after a few months
or years.

Several of the factors that can contribute to night terrors include being
overly tired, staying up extremely late, eating a heavy meal just before going
to bed, and taking certain medications.

Although nightmares and night terrors can seem like a very scary type of sleep
disorder to both the parents and the children involved, they are generally

Narcolepsy: The sleeping disease

There are over 3 million cases of narcolepsy and is estimated by medical
reports that 200,000 Americans, but just under 50,000 are actually officially
diagnosed by a doctor. It has been said that it's widespread like the
neurological disease Parkinson's disorder. This condition is usually recognized
in both men and women at any age, yet the symptoms are usually first noticed in
teenagers and younger age adults usually in their 20s and early 30s.

It's been noted that there is a 15-year between the onset and actual diagnosis
of the problem, which has contributed to the debilitating features of this
particular disorder. Those who deal with narcolepsy have a plethora of
cognitive, educational, occupational, and psychological issues that can arise
from this problem. The presence of narcolepsy is 1 in 2000 people and is also
found in people with diagnosed learning disabilities and currently the
treatment options are very limited.

The studies that were conducted for this concluded that this problem is
constantly under diagnosed in the general population in society. Some
narcoleptics don't show any signs visibly and the severity of the condition
varies from person to person.

This is where medical science has its blunders because of the fact that this
condition is so under diagnosed that it's hard to really get a grasp of the
severity of this problem, because it varies in levels from noticeable to barely

Polysonogram and Multiple Sleep Latency exams are the two tests that are done
to give a formal and correct diagnostic approach to the condition and usually
this is where the diagnosis presents the level of severity so that it's
properly noted by a specialist to ensure a proper treatment plan for that
person. Tests are conducted in two-hour increments to allow the person to sleep
and usually the polysonogram test does a continuous test of brain activity when
it's in REM sleep mode when sleep happens at night.

Usually most narcoleptics fall asleep in nighttime sleep mode fairly quickly.
There are several methods of treatments for people with narcolepsy and usually
it consists of anti-depressants and planned short-timed naps have also been
helpful to lower the dependence on medicinal treatments and allowing the body
to do what it should be doing naturally. Retraining the body to sleep at a
reasonable time has helped those with narcolepsy to recognize sleeping at night
and taking short naps during the day so that their body stays alert because a
lot of narcoleptics have been putting themselves and others at risk when they
fall asleep during their normal work day or even driving or operating machinery.

With the new wave of holistic medicine being readily available to help people
with conditions from skin to psychological issues. Narcoleptics can also work
with a treatment plan that includes a change in diet and incorporating exercise
and taking nutritional supplements and formulas to give someone added nutrition
if they're not getting enough from the food they eat.

Narcolepsy is manageable if you follow the doctor's instructions and taking
medications when you're supposed to and following therapy plans that are
designed for that person to follow to the last detail.

Narcolepsy -- A Rare Sleep Disorder

Narcolepsy, a relatively rare sleep disorder, causes people to fall asleep when
they do not want to. This is caused by a neurological disorder. The brain sends
signals to the body that are sleep inducing; however, they are sent at
inappropriate and unpredictable times. Often it happens when a person is
involved in a quiet activity, such as watching a movie or during a meeting.
Sometimes a person with this sleep disorder falls asleep while driving, which
is obviously extremely dangerous. Others fall asleep while they are eating or
talking. The overwhelming need to sleep can come at any hour of the day during
any activity.

People suffering with narcolepsy often do not realize how sleepy they are, nor
how often they fall asleep. It is often a family member, friend or coworker
that convinces them that they need to seek medical help for their sleep

Narcolepsy has five main symptoms. These are excessive daytime sleepiness,
insomnia and fragmented sleep, sleep paralysis, cataplexy and hypnagogic
hallucinations. Some people with this sleep disorder experience only one
symptom but others can experience all five.

Excessive daytime sleepiness is generally the first symptom to appear. Everyone
with narcolepsy has this symptom. The feeling of needing to sleep is so strong
that sufferers are unable to fend it off, regardless of how hard they try.
These sleep attacks, as they are usually called, can happen several times and
last for five to ten minutes.

Insomnia and fragmented sleep are a very common symptom of this sleep disorder.
People with narcolepsey often have a very difficult time falling asleep at
night, even though they fall asleep easily throughout the day. When they do
fall asleep at night they wake up often and do not follow a typical REM / non
REM sleep pattern.

Sleep paralysis occurs in about half of the people that suffer from this sleep
disorder. For several minutes before falling to sleep or waking up, the person
with this symptom cannot talk or move.

The loss of muscle function while awake is cataplexy. These episodes are
usually very short in length. Over half of the people with narcolepsy
experience this symptom of this sleep disorder. They are caused by a part of
REM not functioning correctly. Often, episodes are brought on by anger,
laughter or any other strong emotion. Sometimes knees buckle, necks and jaws
become weak or the person may fall to the ground. Even though the person looks
like they are asleep and cannot talk, they are fully awake and aware of what is

A hypnagogic hallucination is experiencing very vivid and often frightening
sounds, images or physical sensations. These occur from dreams just before the
person is falling asleep or waking up. It is very difficult for a person with
this sleep disorder to distinguish between the dream and reality. These
hallucinations often have very dangerous themes and are extremely frightening.
Often they are accompanied by sleep paralysis.

There are also several lesser symptoms of narcolepsy. These include blurred
vision, migraine headaches, memory or concentration problems and automatic
behavior. An apostate of automatic behavior can last for several minutes.
During that time a person with this sleep disorder will perform a routine task.
The task is often done incorrectly, such as placing a turkey in the dishwasher
or writing past the end of a page.

Narcolepsy can be diagnosed and treated with various drugs. If left untreated
this sleep disorder can ruin a person's life.

Muscle pain and sleeplessness

Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that affects the muscles and joints and is
seen in only 3-6% of the general population in the world. It's generally seen
more in females than males with a ratio percentage of 9.1 according to the
College of Rhumatology and is commonly diagnosed in females between the ages of
20-50 though it's been noted that the onset happens in childhood. This is not a
life-threatening disease though the degree of pain in the condition can vary
day to day with periods of flare ups and remission. The disease is being argued
and viewed as non-progressive, but that's a point that remains in limbo.

This is a problematic issue that can be a reason to keep someone up at night
because the pain can be unbearable with the tingling and achiness in the
muscles. This drives many who deal with this to endless and chronic deprivation
of sleep. Those who suffer fibromyalgia also note issues with memory and other
neurological issues, but the most frequent is the issues with sleeping that
individuals go through when they deal with painful, annoying flare-ups.

Other issues that surround this problem, which can make sleeping very
difficult, are irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, which affects mostly
women and few men. Skin disorders like dermatological disorders, headaches,
myofacial twitching, and symptomatic hypoglycemia. Stress, excessive physical
exertion, lack of sleep, changes in temperature and baromic pressure. This
condition can worsen when individuals don't sleep or getting the proper rest
and not overdoing on things in their daily lives.

The American Medical Association had officially recognized fibromyalgia as a
medical condition back in 1987 when the disorder was around since the 1800s.
It's been said that flare ups are not identical to the ones that are found in
people with rheumatoid arthritis, but ibuprofen like Advil, Acenomenofen
(Tylenol), and Neproxine (Aleve) which are anti-inflammatory and can bring some
comfort to those with fibromyalgia flare ups. Massage has also been ideal in
helping those who deal with fibromyalgia to find comfort when they have flare
ups. Massage helps to transfer fluids from the muscles and joints and increases
circulation to the affected areas to bring some temporary relief for
inflammation and flare ups.

Which can actually help improve sleep for someone in pain, but it's best to get
a massage when you're not on any medication due to the high risk of side effects
that can be triggered from massaging tissue and muscles.

Fibromyalgia is a manageable problem if you follow your doctor's instructions
and take your medication as directed and getting the right amount of sleep and
getting plenty of exercise and eating a nutritious diet consisting of fresh
fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water and limiting things in the
diet that can also aggravate flare ups. When you take care of yourself properly
you can actually improve the quality of sleep as well as decreasing the
debilitating pain.

That can keep someone up all night long instead of allowing them to sleep and
getting in a decent amount of time for rest and feeling stress free and more
relaxed, so that they can face the day with no painful flare ups and discomfort
that can be annoying.

Jet Lag Syndrome

This is the second most popular sleep disorder and usually affects
international flights and if it's domestic if they're going between time zones.
This is what you call knocking your body clock out of synch because when you're
traveling across different time zones especially at the international level
because that can throw you off an entire day if you're coming from the west
going east from New York to London or Los Angeles to Tokyo or Sydney which can
throw you off since you cross the international date line which is one day
ahead and behind.

It seems as if women are more affected than men and according to medical
reports its because the natural hormone estrogen and it's triggered when the
body when accustomed to normal daytime and nighttime rhythms therefore you're
upsetting the body's natural state of corresponding with a specific time of day
and it can even interrupt eating patterns as well. It can take up to several
days to even a full week to regain some normalcy on the time and place once
you've had time to sleep yourself into adjustment mode.

The symptoms of jet lag vary by the individual person and symptoms can include
or be a combination of dehydration which can trigger minor disorientation, and
loss of appetite, headaches and sinus irritations, fatigue, grogginess, nausea
and/or vomiting from an upset stomach, irritability, and mild depression. Jet
lag is not linked to the length of a flight, but the transmerdian distance
traveled. For example if you flew from New York and Los Angeles which is
approximately 5 hours you will feel some jet lag crossing the Central and
Mountain time zones. Jet lag can be extremely difficult in places like Alaska
and Russia because of the fact that Alaska only sees a short amount of daylight
and Russia has 11 different time zones and can really throw someone off if they
were flying from Copenhagen to Tokyo.

Usually people that are prone to this are often given sedatives by their
doctors to help them sleep through the flight and to wake up without the
effects of jet lag when they land in their destination.

Ways to recover quicker from jet lag is proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep
because you'll be surprised to know that people who don't sleep or get enough
rest and relaxation will deal with it later when they land and the
disorientation sets in. Sunlight according to doctors say can help reset your
body's clock back in synch.

It's difficult to pinpoint the severity of jet lag because it affects people
differently and usually people who travel on international flights are less
likely to deal with jet lag because they're used to the constant change. And
have manage to adapt to those changes since some travel monthly for business
and usually it's business travelers who deal with jet lag more than those who
go for vacations.

Business travelers fly at odd times which can throw someone off because they're
flying out super early or catching the red eye somewhere to arrive the next day.

Illnesses That Can Cause a Sleep Disorder

Many times a sleep disorder can be caused from an illness or from the
medications used to treat an illness. Some of the common health conditions that
can cause a sleeping problem are cardiovascular disease, endocrine disorders,
neurological disorders, respiratory disease, mental illness, gastroesophageal
reflux disease, kidney disease, and arthritis.

Cardiovascular disease includes congestive heart failure and coronary artery
disease. These are the two most common heart problems that affect sleep and can
cause a sleep disorder. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart can no
longer pump enough blood fo the body's needs. Blood backs up in the veins of
the heart which lead to the kidneys and edema eventually damages the lungs and
other organs. People suffering from congestive heart failure have a very high
risk of developing the sleep disorder of obstructive sleep apnea. Coronary
heart disease is the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries that supply
blood to the heart, called atherosclerosis. This condition also can lead to
obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep disorders can occur from endocrine disorders such as diabetes and thyroid
disease. Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body processes and uses
carbohydrates, fats and proteins. People that have uncontrolled diabetes often
develop the sleep disorder of restless leg syndrome. Thyroid hormones regulate
the body's energy levels. Hyperthyroidism can make it difficult to fall asleep,
and cause night sweats the person to wake.

Neurological disorders include Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease,
epilepsy, and strokes. Parkinson's disease is a central nervous system
disorder. This disease causes problems with body motion, including tremors,
unstable posture, slowed body movements, muscle stiffness, and difficulty
walking. Sleep disorders that occur with this disease include REM sleep
behavior disorder and sleep onset insomnia. Alzheimer's disease impairs the
brain's intellectual functions and is the most common cause of dementia. This
disease causes sleep fragmentation. Epilepsy causes recurrent, sudden, brief
changes in the normal electrical activity of the brain. People with this
condition are twice as likely to suffer from the sleep disorder insomnia.
People that suffer a stroke usually also have obstructive sleep apnea.

People that have respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, usually also have a sleep disorder. Asthma is a chronic lung
condition that makes breathing difficult when air passages become inflamed and
narrow. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, refers to a group
of disorders that damage the lungs and make breathing difficult. Many people
with these conditions suffer from insomnia and sleep fragmentation.

Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder, and seasonal affective disorder can also lead to a sleep disorder.
People with these mental health disorders often suffer from sleep fragmentation
and insomnia.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD, causes the stomach's juices to
flow backwards into the esophagus. This causes the sleep disorder of sleep

Kidney disease causes the kidneys to lose their ability to filter the proper
amount of waste products from the blood and regulate the body's balance of salt
and water. This can cause the sleep disorders of restless leg syndrome and
insomnia to develop.

People with arthritis often find it difficult to fall asleep because of the
pain. This often results in insomnia.

If an illness causes a sleep disorder to develop, the sleep disorder is
secondary to the illness. Successful treatment of the primary underlying cause
will usually diminish the effects of the sleep disorder.

Hypersomnia (oversleeping)

Most people don't realize they oversleep when they have a condition called
hypersomnia and that's due in part to recurring episodes of excessive daytime
sleeping and prolonged nighttime sleep. This is different from the average
person taking that midday nap when they do it at sometimes the most
inappropriate times like at work, during meals, or even in conversation with

Hypersomniacs are also diagnosed with narcolepsy, which can be quite dangerous
because some individuals are behind the wheel of cars or even cooking in their
home and aren't aware that they fell asleep. Some hypersomniacs and
narcoleptics can fall asleep and then wake up and resume where they left off in
conversations with people. Usually daytime naps usually provide no relief or
symptoms to the problem(s) and will result in the individual(s) having
increased difficulty in waking from a long extended period of sleeping,
disorientation, anxiety, decreased energy, increased fatigue, restlessness,
slow thinking, slow speech, loss of appetite, hallucinations, and problems with
memory functions.

Some individuals also experience losing the ability to function in normal
family, social, occupational, and other settings familiar to that person.

Hypersomnia can be triggered by sleep apnea or narcolepsy, where it can lead to
dysfunction of the autonomic nerve system, which can be brought on, by acute
alcohol and/or drug abuse. In some cases rare or not it can also be triggered
from physical problems such as tumors, head trauma or injuries to the nervous
system. Specific medications or withdrawal of medications and/or drugs may
contribute to someone having hypersomnia. Medical conditions such as multiple
sclerosis, depression, encephalitis, epilepsy, and obesity can contribute to
hypersomnia as well.

It's also been noted that those who have hypersomnia are also genetically
dispositioned to this problem whereas in others there's no known or documented
cause. Hypersomnia typically affects adolescents and young adults in their 20s
and 30s. Although the most common causes of this disorder differs in the age
brackets. Information can be located on the National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Strokes website if you're seeking a more thorough clinical
explanation to this problem. This isn't a substitute for medical advice from a
licensed physician so it's ideal to educate yourself, but leave the diagnosing
and treatment to a doctor so that you condition can be monitored closely.

People who are not seeing a doctor when they identify problems that are not
normal for them to experience are misdiagnosing too many issues with sleep.
Persons who are severely obese can also have a difficult time losing the weight
because of the fact that lack of sleep can increase the body's metabolic rate,
which can trigger excessive hunger in those who are trying to lose weight.

This is why so many people who are obese are eating more than they should
because a lot of them sleep so much that they wake up wanting to eat when they
should be sleeping like normal people do and not up at all hours of the night
wanting to eat. This is why it's harder for people who are obese to lose weight
when they sleep too much and not training their body to rest instead of wanting
to eat food.

Children With the Sleep Disorder of Sleepwalking

The sleep disorder of sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, affects
approximately 14% of school-age children between five and twelve years old at
least once. Approximately one quarter of the children with this sleep disorder
have more frequent episodes. Sleepwalking is more common in boys then it is in
girls. Most children that sleepwalk outgrow the symptoms of this sleep disorder
by adolescence as their nervous systems develop.

In children this sleep disorder is thought to be the result of the immaturity
of the brain's sleep / wake cycle. Normally the entire brain wakes up at the
same time. However, in the case of a sleepwalker, the entire brain does not
wake up together. The portion that is responsible for mobility wakes up while
the portion responsible for cognition and awareness stays asleep. The child is
actually in a deep state of sleep.

With this sleep disorder the brain remains partially asleep but the body is
able to move. It is common for the sleepwalker to get out of bed and walk
around. Sometimes they get dressed or go outside. Even though the sleepwalker's
eyes are open and they see what they are doing, their expression remains blank.
They do not respond to conversation or their name being called. A sleepwalker's
movements usually appear clumsy. It is not uncommon for them to trip over
furniture or knock over things as they move around. A sleepwalking episode
usually happens one to two hours after the child goes to sleep. Most of these
episodes last for fifteen minutes or less, but some can last for an hour or

This sleep disorder in children is usually outgrown and treatment is not
generally necessary. In most cases, a parent gently guiding the child back to
bed is all that is needed. There is not any need to wake the child.

However, there is about 1% of the population that sleepwalk as adults. Adults
that have this sleep disorder did not necessarily have it as a child. In adults
a sleepwalking episode can be triggered by stress, anxiety, sleep fragmentation,
sleep deprivation, or certain medical conditions such as epilepsy.

Treatment for adults with this sleep disorder is often dependent upon the
amount of danger they are in during an episode. For example, a sleepwalker who
opens doors and goes outside onto a busy city street is in danger. A
sleepwalker that gets up and goes into the living room and sits down on a chair
most likely is not in danger. Treatments can include behavioral therapies, self
hypnosis, or prescription medication.

A sleepwalker, whether adult or child, needs to have a safe area so that they
do not get hurt during an episode. Precautions can be taken to eliminate some
dangers. Parents should make sure the child's bedroom does not have any sharp
or breakable objects. Doors should be locked at night to keep the sleepwalker
from going outside. Sometimes it is necessary to put bells on doors to alert
the sleeping parent that their child is sleepwalking. Large glass windows and
doors should be covered with heavy drapery to lessen the chance of having the
sleepwalker walk through it while it is closed.

A child with the sleep disorder of somnambulism needs to be protected and kept
safe during an episode. It is the environment they are in that is the danger
more then the sleep disorder itself.

A Sleep Disorder That Affects the Legs -- Restless Sleep Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome, known as RLS, is a sleep disorder that afflicts more
than 15 percent of adults. It affects more women than men and the incidence of
restless leg syndrome increases with age. Certain medical conditions, such as
diabetes, arthritis and varicose veins, also increase the risk of developing
restless leg syndrome.

This sleep disorder is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the
lower legs, knees and occasionally the arms. Sometimes painful sensations
accompany the urge to move. People that suffer from this sleep disorder
describe the feelings and sensations in different ways. Many describe a
tingling, itching or pulling sensation. Still others say it feels prickly or
burns. Some feel as if they have worms crawling under their skin.

The sensations which are typical of this sleep disorder can occur anytime
during the day or night. Restless leg syndrome occurring at night has a
devastating effect on sleep. The symptoms can cause the sufferer to get in and
out of bed repeatedly which can delay or disrupt sleep. Since sleep in
repeatedly interrupted, extreme daytime sleepiness is common.

The combination of always feeling tired and the symptoms themselves can cause a
person with restless leg syndrome to alter their lifestyle. Long trips, movies,
concerts and eating in restaurants are some of the activities they usually
avoid. Attending a long meeting at work can become very painful and
uncomfortable. People that have this sleep disorder often suffer from

Researchers believe that restless leg syndrome may be caused by malfunctions of
the pathways in the brain that controls movement reflexes and sensations. Often
this sleep disorder has a genetic base.

Restless leg syndrome cannot be diagnosed by one single test. Often standard
neurological examinations show no signs of an abnormality. In many cases, a
doctor makes the diagnosis of restless leg syndrome based on the description of
the symptoms. They also take into account family history, and the results of a
routine medical examination and blood tests.

Many times the treatment for restless leg syndrome is aimed at controlling the
debilitating sensations that accompany this sleep disorder. Often iron
supplements are prescribed because severe anemia has been linked to this
disorder. Relaxation techniques, diet changes and the elimination of caffeine
and alcohol help some sufferers of restless leg syndrome.

In most cases, this sleep disorder is treated with drugs. These drugs could
include dopamine agents, benzodiazepines, opioids or anticonvulsants.
Medications do not cure restless leg syndrome, but they manage the symptoms.
People that suffer from this sleep disorder usually have to stay on their
medications for the rest of their lives.

Another sleep disorder similar to restless leg syndrome is periodic limb
movement disorder known as PLMD. There are two main differences between
restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder. Restless leg
syndrome occurs when the sufferer is awake or asleep; periodic limb movement
disorder only occurs when the sufferer is asleep. Restless leg syndrome
movements are voluntary responses to very unpleasant sensations; the movements
of periodic limb movement disorder are involuntary and are not consciously
controlled. Both of these sleep disorders can be effectively controlled with
medical treatment.

What to Expect at a Sleep Disorder Overnight Sleep Center

I f you think you may have a sleep disorder, your primary doctor or a doctor
that specializes in sleep disorders may send you to a sleep center for
diagnosis. There are a large number of sleep centers located across the United
States and their numbers are increasing. Sleep centers in the United States
must be accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

When a person goes to a sleep center, it is usually for an overnight stay.
Costs involved for most sleep study tests range from one to three thousand
dollars and many need to be repeated twice. The first visit to diagnose the
sleep disorder and the second to get accurate settings for any PAP machines
that may be needed. Health insurance generally pays all or most of the cost of
the tests needed to diagnose a sleep disorder.

Once an appointment has been made, many sleep centers send a sleep diary to the
patient. The information from the sleep diary is used by the doctors to
understand general sleeping patterns. It is also recommended that no caffeine
or alcohol be consumed after 12:00 p.m. on the day of the scheduled test.

Generally the patient packs an overnight bag just as if they were going to stay
at a hotel overnight. During the sleep study you wear your own nightclothes and
you can use a favorite pillow from home. You can bring a book or magazine if
you like to read before falling to sleep. Most sleep centers resemble a hotel
room and have a television to watch if that is what the patient usually does
before going to sleep at home. Once you are relaxed the sleep center technician
starts preparation for the equipment needed to record your patterns of sleep.

Diagnosis from a sleep center study is made using polysomnography which records
a continual record of your sleep. In order to take a specific reading slightly
more than two dozen small thin electrodes are pasted to specific parts of your
body. They are placed under your chin, on your scalp, near your eyes and nose,
on your finger, chest and legs, and also over the rib muscles and on the
abdomen. These electrodes then record various types of readings during the
night. Often an audio and video tape are also made to monitor sleep noises and

Once all the equipment is in place the sleep technician leaves you alone to
fall asleep. Even with all the equipment it is not uncomfortable. It is easy to
move or turn onto your side. Each bedroom in
a sleep center also has an automatic intercom so it is easy to call the
technician if needed for such things as a bathroom break. When the sleep study
is completed, the technician may wake you. Most studies that are used to
diagnose a sleep disorder take seven to eight hours.

The reading are collected on a computer file called a polysonagram and are
monitored and analyzed by the sleep technician during the night. The results
are then sent for further readings to determine if there is a sleep disorder.

Although a sleep study may not sound comfortable, it is very important to
determine and treat any sleep disorder.

An Alternative Approach for Overcoming a Sleep Disorder

Having a sleep disorder can be very disruptive to everyday life. Sleep deprived
people are usually excessively tired and sleepy. They tend to become irritable
and very emotional. At times they become a danger, not only to themselves, but
also to those around them.

Some people use alternative, natural ways to lessen the effects of their sleep
disorder. Many people focus on diet and nutrition, while others use herbs and
supplements. Still others believe in the positive effect of exercise,
relaxation and sensory techniques, meditation or behavioral and cognitive
strategies. Often people use a combination of these approaches to help
alleviate the symptoms of their sleep disorder.

A healthy diet is essential for optimal energy and a restful sleep. Avoiding
certain foods is as important as including others in your daily diet. Eating a
wide variety of foods and drinking plenty of water will keep your body well-
balanced and provide a more stable energy level. Avoiding food that is grown,
treated or processed with chemicals, and limiting the amount of sugar and
caffeine will also help your overall physical condition. Many foods promote a
restful sleep and are helpful in relieving some of the symptoms of certain
sleep disorders. Eating the proper snack before bedtime can increase natural
serotonin levels. Serotonin acts as a natural sedative and is made in the body
from the amino acid tryptophan. Foods that a re rich in tryptophan include
chicken, turkey, cheese, cottage cheese, fish, milk, nuts, avocados and bananas.

Many people use herbs and natural supplements as an alternative approach to
treating their sleep disorder. There are many nutritional supplements and
herbal products on the market. It is important to know how a specific product
acts on the body as well as on the specific sleep disorder.. For example many
people with restless leg syndrome have an iron or folic acid deficiency. Taking
an iron supplement may alleviate some of the symptoms of RLS. Many herbs are
well known for promoting a natural sleep. A clamming tea of chamomile or lemon
balm can be very relaxing to many people that suffer from a sleep disorder.

Exercise and relaxation techniques, whether used alone or together, can reduce
stress and muscle tension. Many people that use these techniques to lessen the
symptoms of a sleep disorder do these before going to bed. They not only ease
physical tension but they calm the mind and prepare the body to sleep. These
techniques include mindful exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing
exercises and yoga.

Meditation and visualization are also used by some sufferers of sleep disorders
to calm the body before sleep. Two common forms of mediation are meditation on
the breath and mantra meditation. Both of these types can have a positive
effect on relieving stress and calming the body. Many people focus their energy
on a healing visualization as a method of alternative therapy for their sleep

Sensory techniques that people use to lessen the symptoms of their sleep
disorder are hydrotherapy, and aroma therapy. The two main techniques included
in hydrotherapy, which means water therapy, are relaxing in an Epsom salt bath
and a lymph stimulating footbath. Aroma therapy includes the use of therapeutic
essential oils in baths, massage oils, room sprays, and simple inhalants.

Alternative behavioral and cognitive strategies used to combat the symptoms of
a sleep disorder include improving a person's sleep hygiene, stimulus control
therapy and journal writing.

Alternative practices and techniques can help many types of sleep disorders.
Often they are used in conjunction with traditional medication and practices.

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