Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are varying types of conditions that affect an individual’s quality, timing, and amount of sleep. Most people experience a disruption of their regular sleep pattern from time to time. When sleep issues occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily functioning, that could indicate a sleep disorder. 

Sleep disorders don’t just affect a person’s ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get good sleep but they can have a negative impact on energy, mood, concentration, and overall health. Furthermore sleep disorders can lead to difficulties with school or work performance, relationships, and all daily functioning.

Sleep disorders are mostly thought of as a biological process. Your body achieves various important functions in the body and brain while you sleep to maintain proper functionality. A disruption in sleep means the lack of prevents your body and brain from helping you stay healthy physically and psychologically day-to-day. 

There are 100+ known sleep disorders categorized by their causes, symptoms, physiological and psychological effects, and more. The end result of all sleep disorders is that the body’s natural cycle of slumber and daytime wakefulness is disrupted and exaggerated. The prolonged experience of the following factors could be cause for concern:

✅ difficulty falling asleep
✅ jaw clenching
✅ bedwetting
✅ inability to stay asleep
✅ nightmares
✅ daytime fatigue

✅ snoring
✅ sleep talking
✅ movement in sleep
✅ teeth grinding
✅ sleepwalking

Causes of Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders include a range of problems and may result due to various causes. However the root cause of sleep disorders is yet unknown. There are several factors that have been linked to the cause of sleep disorders, and some that have been ruled out as follows: 

💡 stress 
💡 chronic pain 
💡 nervous system disorders  
💡 hormone imbalances
💡 digestive problems        
💡 excessive alcohol consumption
💡 smoking nicotine
💡 side effects of medication
💡 drug withdrawal
💡 sleep deprivation

❌ age
❌ body weight
❌ gender

Misconceptions About Sleep Disorders

Even as sleep is a major element of health and wellness, we experience various issues throughout our life cycles. With that comes several misconceptions and myths about what causes sleep disorders. Misconceptions include:

🚫 related to other health conditions
🚫 brain rests during sleep
🚫 caused by snoring
🚫 you don’t need much sleep
🚫 get out of bed when you can’t sleep
🚫 only affects mood

🚫 age has not effect on sleep
🚫 tiredness means you didn’t sleep well
🚫 naps make up for lack of sleep
🚫 alcohol will help you sleep
🚫 only treatment is medication
🚫 snoring is harmless

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

There is a difference between having a sleep disorder and a period of not sleeping well. A small period of not sleeping well is not a diagnosis for a sleep disorder. Lifestyle choices can have a large impact on how you sleep and be the actual cause of sleep disturbances. 

While each disorder will have its own specific set of symptoms, common symptoms to look out for are:

🚩 difficulty falling asleep
🚩 lack of concentration
🚩 difficulty staying asleep
🚩 strong urge to take naps during the day
🚩 daytime fatigue
🚩 up at night unable to fall back asleep

🚩 irritability
 abnormal breathing while sleeping
🚩 wake up too early in morning.
🚩 choking while sleeping
🚩 snorting while sleeping  
🚩 gasping while sleeping

Diagnosing Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can be diagnosed through a variety of ways. Your healthcare provider will collect your medical history, sleep history, physical exam, and possibly a mental health evaluation. Testing will be ordered to further evaluate and assess the bodily functions during sleep in order to narrow down on a diagnosis. Testing is used to monitor and record data about your body as it applies to sleep including:

👉 brain wave changes             👉 breathing rate             👉 heart rate
👉 eye movements                     👉 blood pressure            👉 heart electrical activity 

These tests are often requested:

🔸 polysomnography (PSG) – sleep study 
🔸 electroencephalogram (EEG) – measuring brain activity
🔸 multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) – evaluating daytime sleepiness

Conditions Commonly Mistaken for Sleep Disorders

Misdiagnosis is often a common occurrence when it comes to sleep disorders. Not only can sleep disorders be misdiagnosed as other sleep disorders, many have been misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as: 

✳️ epilepsy
✳️ attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 
✳️ depressive disorders
✳️ anxiety disorders
✳️ stroke
✳️ nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy

Treating Sleep Disorders

Treatment for sleep disorders depends on which sleep disorder you are treating. Generally this is also determined but the underlying cause as well. Possible treatment options for sleep disorders may include:

🧬 cannabis and CBD
🧬 surgery
🧬 dental guard
🧬 medication
🧬 dental guards
🧬 breathing device

🧬 breathing machines
🧬 lifestyle changes
🧬 surgery
🧬 sleep schedule
🧬 melatonin 

Healthcare Professionals Who Treat Sleep Disorders

For the best results in a successful treatment of sleep disorders, seek providers that have specialities in the assessment, treatment, diagnosis, and continuing support of patients diagnosed with sleep disorders. 

Many medical and mental health providers are familiar with the diagnosis of sleep disorders.  However if your chosen provider is not, they should always provide a knowledgeable referral source. Specialized providers will have the capabilities to diagnose using various testing methods to decrease the likelihood of misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments. 

If you choose to utilize medication, psychotherapy should always be incorporated in treatment planning. 

The following are professionals involved in the treatment of sleep disorders:

🧠 physician
🧠 psychotherapist
🧠 pediatricians
🧠 otorhinolaryngologist 
🧠 neurologist 

🧠 respiratory therapist 
🧠 psychiatrist
🧠 oral & maxillofacial surgeons
🧠 dentist 

Recognizing Immediate Need for Sleep Disorders

Consider seeing a professional about sleep disorders when you are experiencing consistent and continued symptoms, such as:

🚨 Daytime fatigue after a full night’s rest
🚨 Pauses in breathing during sleep
🚨 Headaches
🚨 Hallucinations
🚨 Significant changes in mood
🚨 Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

Sleep Disorders Professional Organizations

Provided are some resources to help the start of seeking support for sleep disorders. Though these are national links, consider narrowing options down by searching in your current location.