Types Of Sleep Disorders
There are many types of sleep disorders, and are increasingly common part of the human condition, and they’re a lot more common than you might think. Statistics from the American Sleep Association estimates that there are as many as 70 million Americans out there who suffer from some or other form of temporary or chronic sleeping disorder.
It’s a blanket term that describes several different disorders related to sleep. These can be varied, and including everything from bruxism (nightly grinding) through to insomnia (not getting enough sleep) through to hypersomnia, where the patient sleeps too much instead.
Here’s all the information that you should know about sleep disorders, how they’re determined and what can be done to treat them.
How Are Types Of Sleep Disorders Determined?
Sleep disorders have to be adequately diagnosed before they can be properly treated.
The first thing that tells most people they might be suffering from a sleep disorder is the fact that they notice something is wrong with their usual sleeping patterns. Sometimes they’re getting more sleep than they normally would (parasomnia), other times it’s because of not getting enough (insomnia) – but there are other sleep disorders which can fall into these groups, too.
Sleep disorders are officially determined in a clinical setting through assessing the symptoms, testing enzymes and hormones through a simple blood test and through a stay in a sleep clinic that usually only lasts 24 to 48 hours and allows experts to take a look at your symptoms from closer up.
This is to establish the nature and severity of the type of sleep disorder that you help, and it usually helps to establish the underlying cause at the same time. More tests might be ordered if the cause of the condition isn’t clear from the first round, which is common for some.
From the point where an official diagnosis is made, medical experts are able to recommend what treatments would work best for controlling the condition and restoring the sleep cycle back to normal.
6 Categories Types Of Sleep Disorders
Even though insomnia might be of the most common sleep disorders and the one that most people have learned by name, it’s not the only type of sleep disorder that you can be diagnosed with – and there are several different groups of sleep disorders that you might encounter.
Depending on the cause or your sleep disorder and just what symptoms you are experiencing, you could have insomnia, hypersomnia, a sleep-related breathing disorder such as apnea, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders or parasomia as the cause; there are also potential disorders related to sleep and moment in these categories.
Here’s the brief description for what you should know about each.
Insomnia is one of the most common type of sleep disorders out there, and it’s the one that most people are familiar with – there are even some people who will use the term “insomnia” to describe their condition even though it’s not the correct name for most types of sleep disorders.
Usually, insomnia is characterized by the chronic inability to sleep – or sometimes the inability to be able to make it through a full night’s sleep. This condition can occur for a while and then subside for a while, or it can be a constant and lead to years worth of being unable to get through the night.
There are hundreds of potential reasons for what’s causing your insomnia to happen; this cam sometimes include dietary factors when certain foods are more likely to trigger the disorder, genetic factors can play a role in insomnia, chemical imbalances in the bran can contribute to causing insomnia and other times the condition occurs due to stress or hormone levels within the body.
Insomnia has the potential to be one of the hardest sleep disorders to live with, and it can be one of the easiest ones to treat once it has been properly diagnosed by a doctor.
Hypersomnias describe a group of sleep disorders that can almost be called the direct opposites of insomnia. Instead of interruptions in the sleeping pattern that causes a lack of sleep, hypersomnia will cause the opposite effect – and it can lead to conditions like narcolepsy, which sees the brain leap directly into the sleep phase from being wide awake in a matter of a millisecond, which can make it far more dangerous than insomnia and mean that it interrupts your life on a daily basis.
Sometimes hypersomnia will also be characterized by conditions that cause people to sleep far more than their bodies are supposed to. Usually in both cases, people with disorders that fall under hypersomnia end up being no more and no less tired than people who have been diagnosed with insomiac-related disorders.
If you are diagnosed with hypersomnia disorders, the first step for doctors is to find the cause of why the condition happens in the first place. In most cases the best course of action is through visiting a sleep clinic where the disorder will be allowed to happen in a natural setting, where doctors can assess the best possible ways in which to treat the specific condition.
Sleep Related Breathing Disorders
Sleep-related breathing disorders describe a range of conditions that affect the breathing in some or other way, and the condition generally only occurs when asleep.
Snoring is one of the most sleep-related disorders that happens to a lot of people, but that the majority of people have no idea is actually a disorder related to sinuses and breathing – and in some cases might even act as an early indicator or other health issues like sinus problems, apnea or heart conditions. However, it’s not the only sleep-related breathing disorder that people are diagnosed with.
Talking or moaning in the sleep can also often be a common sleep-related breathing disorder that could be pointing to the same signs.
Sleep apnea is another common sleep-related breathing disorder that means that people stop breathing – usually only for a brief second – during sleep. This can happen as obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea or child sleep apnea, a version of the condition that usually only occurs in children and babies.
Any sleep-related breathing disorders are considered serious and should be treated as soon as possible due to the possible complications they can cause for breathing during sleep, and the fact that the conditions are sometimes known to lead to further potentially fatal health issues.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Wake Disorders
Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake disorders are sleep disorders that are considered to cause a direct disruption in the sleeping patterns, and this can be caused by both internal factors within the body or something outside of it.
What people call “jet lag” is the most commonly known type of Circadian-rhythm sleep-wake disorders, and it happens due to the fact that the body’s expectation of time no longer matches up with the time when they check their clock – and this can lead to many of the other sleep conditions mentioned in this article to occur as a direct result.
Sometimes Circadian-rhythm sleep-wake disorders can also take place due to the fact that the body’s rhythm is interrupted from the inside out rather than by an external factor, like in the common case of jet lag – in this case, it’s called irregular sleep-wake rhythm, and often treated in the same way that other Circadian-rhythm sleep-wake disorders are by restoring the sleep cycle back to normal through therapeutic means.
Circadian-rhythm sleep-wake disorders can usually leave people feeling tired, regardless of whether or not they are getting enough sleep – and it can take the body a while to restore itself back to the correct rhythm, especially if you are someone who travels through different time-zones a lot.
Parasomnias describe a range of different sleep disorders that causes people who suffer from them to act out different behaviors in their sleep that you would normally have associated with being awake; of these, sleepwalking and talking might be two of the most common ones that you might already be familiar with.
Night terrors, sleep paralysis and the occurrence of chronic nightmares are also considered to be some of the disorders that can be counted under the category of parasomnias. Sometimes, these conditions might only occur as a child, or they might happen after some type of emotional or physical trauma that affects the brain and subsequently the sleep cycle.
In some cases, parasomnia is an entirely temporary condition that can be caused as a side-effect of certain medications. Depending on the individual cause, treatment can vary greatly – and it can be as simple as a switch to another sleeping medication, or the use of one to begin with.
There can be many different things that are counted as the cause behind parasomnias, and they require very careful examination of the cause before they can be treated. Like other sleep-related conditions (including insomnia and parasomnias), an appointment at a licensed sleep clinic is recommended to establish the nature of the condition first.
Sleep Movement Disorders
Sleep-movement disorders describes a group of different health conditions characterized by involuntary movements related to sleeping patterns; sometimes these might occur just as you are falling asleep and they might stop you from getting back into a proper sleeping routine, and other times these might occur during your sleep and you might not even aware they happen until someone else points it out to you or you notice that you’re experiencing weird pains during the day that feels like you were more physically active than you remember.
Any type of sleep movement disorder can cause a great deal of discomfort, pain and can even contribute to a huge interruption of the overall sleep cycle that leads to dangerous interruptions in the waking cycle (such as feeling like you’re too tired to function properly at work, or falling asleep at the wheel).
Just some of the disorders related to sleeping patterns and movement can include restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movements, sleep cramps, sleep-rhythmic movement and bruxism, more commonly known as grinding the jaw while asleep.
Disorders of sleep and movement are usually easy to cure or manage with the right treatment options, although there’s a huge list of “folk cures” for curing them – and very, very few of these treatments are effective when it comes to managing sleep-movement disorders.
Sleep Disorders Within The Categories
Sleep disorders aren’t all the same, and at this point in the article it should be obvious that there are different signs, symptoms and treatments for each of a group of different sleep disorders; by this point, you know the basics of what defines the different disorders and you might even recognize one or two already, but if you suspect a sleep disorder in yourself, you’ll want to know more than just the basics.
Here’s more information about the individual sleep disorders that have been described in this article, how you can recognize the symptoms and what can most commonly be done to treat the symptoms of the disorder.
Insomnias are perhaps some of the most common types of sleep disorders that you’ll encounter, and it’s likely true to say that the majority of people have experienced a temporarily inability to sleep at some or other point in their lives, sometimes due to physical or mental trauma that might affect their sleeping cycle for days, weeks, months or years at a time, although there can be a wide range of different causes for insomnia happening in the first place.
If you have been diagnosed with insomnia, it’s likely that you aren’t getting the right amount of sleep to keep your body and mind in healthy condition; it’s common for people who have been diagnosed with insomnia to have trouble falling asleep, or to have no trouble falling asleep at all, but instead problems staying asleep after they’ve woken up through the night.
Sometimes insomnia can occur as a temporary condition that happens when someone has never experienced the symptoms before in their lives, and other times the condition can be chronic and something that feels like it has stuck around for an entire lifetime – and this is different for each individual case of insomnia, and will likely be a different case for yours.
Types Of Insomnia Sleepers
Not all insomnias are considered to be the same, and while they can all have the same general symptoms – e.g. the fact that you aren’t getting enough sleep for whatever reason – they can have a wide range of different causes and will need to be treated in different ways.
- Short Sleepers: Short sleepers are characterized by the fact that their sleeping patterns are literally “too short.” When it comes to the right amount of sleep per night, it’s estimated that you should be getting approximately six to eight hours of sleep per night to ensure that your body remains at optimal capacity (and the cells and brain get a chance to recharge).The condition of insomnia in “short sleepers” can usually be treated by restoring the sleep cycle through medication or making small adaptations to the routine just before bed; often times dietary factors can also be considered a huge part of the cause.
- Child Insomnia: Child insomnia often occurs in children, and while the condition can commonly subside when adulthood is reached, the condition can continue well into adulthood as well as set over into other different types of sleep disorders at the same time. Because of this reason, childhood insomnia should be treated soon – usually with adaptations in the sleeping routine, and with a very light dose of prescribed medication in extreme cases.
Insomnias describe a group of different sleep disorders that are most commonly known to occur in cases where people aren’t getting enough sleep to meet their needs, and although it’s the most common type of sleeping disorder that you might encounter, it’s not the only type out there by any means.
Hypersomnia instead describes a range of health conditions whereby the sleep pattern is interrupted, usually in the opposite ways to which insomnia would have. Instead of getting to little sleep, people with hypersomnia-related conditions are instead getting too much of it – and they usually will feel just as tired as anyone who might be suffering from insomia.
There are many different potential causes of hypersomnia: Sometimes it can be a side-effect of medication or a result of physical or emotional trauma. Other times it might indicate the presence of another heath condition that needs to be monitored and assessed due to the fact that hypersomniac-conditions can occasionally point to other ones such as epilepsy.
With time, hypersomnia can start to affect the rest of the body – and conditions like narcolepsy are considered to be extremely dangerous, especially when they’re either undiagnosed or currently untreated. Conditions that affect the rest of the sleep cycle in this way should be especially closely monitored because of the potential danger they can pose when, for example, someone falls asleep at the wheel or while operating equipment as a result of their health condition.
Like with insomnia, hypersomnia has to be properly diagnosed before a treatment option for the condition can be planned – and for proper diagnosis of conditions like narcolepsy, hypersomnia or the condition that’s better known as being a “long sleeper”, an appointment with a sleep clinic might be needed so that the condition can be closely monitored for the best possible results.
Symptoms of hypersomnia can sometimes include sleeping far more than eight hours a day and still feeling tired, and in the case of narcolepsy symptoms can include falling into a sudden “sleep” in a matter of seconds at any point throughout the day.
If you suspect that you might have hypersomnia any health condition that could be related to any of the conditions related to hypersomnia, an appointment with an expert should be your first course of action. The condition has the potential to be dangerous, although is just as easily treatable with the right medication for your individual case of hypersomnia.
Sleep Related Breathing Disorders
Sleep-related breathing disorders refers to a group of disorders that affects the breathing during the sleeping cycle. These disorders can sometimes occur in combination with other disorders, but it’s very common for them to also occur on their own without any of the other conditions being present. Sometimes these conditions can be pointing to the fact that there’s a sinus problem or obstruction that’s causing them, but this might not always be the case, and like with the majority of different conditions related to sleep, you can expect individual cases to be hugely different even when we might be talking about the same disorder.
Snoring is one of the most common sleep-related breathing disorders that people usually fail to recognize for what it is, and if you have been experiencing chronic or temporary snoring as a symptom you should make an appointment with your doctor. This is especially due to the fact that snoring usually doesn’t occur by itself, and it has potential to be diagnosed alongside a condition like apnea, which can be dangerous.
Usually, snoring can be cured with just a few lifestyle adaptations: Sometimes changes to the diet will need to be made, such as cutting out dairy and the possibility of sinus issues during sleep as a result; other times, a C-PAP machine needs to be used in order to alleviate the condition.
Sleep apnea is a condition that involves the interruption of breathing during the sleep cycle, This can be a potentially dangerous condition that can cause the obvious consequences that you would associated with stopping to breathe in your sleep. Sometimes sleep apnea is treated with medication that helps to control it, and other times the condition might need to be treated with surgery if it’s happening because of any pressing sinus issues.
It’s a condition that comes in several different forms, including obstructive sleep apnea (which is usually caused by a physical obstruction) and infant or child sleep apnea that usually occurs in childhood form, and might or might not occur into adulthood. Regardless, childhood apnea should be treated immediately.
These sleeping-related breathing disorders are sometimes diagnosed because of other sleep disorders that seem like they’re unrelated, or they might be found because of other health issues entirely that lead to a diagnosis of apnea.
Like the other types of sleep disorders, these are usually easy to treat with a combination of the right lifestyle changes and medication.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders
Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders describe a group of conditions that causes interruptions in your sleeping cycle that aren’t related to the type of interruptions that conditions like para- or insomnia-related conditions will cause. These conditions are very common in people who spend a lot of time travelling, and might cross over from one time-zone into the next without getting any sleep – or with an amount of sleep they feel is insufficient.
Circadian Rhythm – Jet Lag
One of the most common Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders is what people commonly call jet-lag, and it’s usually seen when people move from one time-zone into the next – and it happens because the body tries to adapt to this sudden change, and it often does this badly. Jet lag is usually a temporary condition that can be fixed with light medication or adaptations to restore the body back to it’s natural sleep cycle – although for regular travelers and people with medical conditions, it can easily turn into a chronic condition that requires more effort to treat.
Jet lag isn’t the only condition that forms part of Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders: Sometimes the condition occurs naturally as irregular sleep-wake rhythm, or sometimes there might be external conditions that can make these conditions happen, such as working shifts and being forced into an irregular sleep rhythm by default, or by jet lag which can be a great contributor to confusing your internal clock.
Circadian Rhythm – Sleep-Wake Disorders
Sleep conditions that are related to Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders are usually diagnosed when frequent travellers notice that they are feeling tired more than usual and find it very hard to function when they get off the plane; other times, they have such trouble adjusting that they can’t get back to sleep – or they’re sleeping too much.
When it’s caused by something like jet lag or working shifts, it’s classified as Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders due to the effect that it has on the sleep rhythm cycle of sleeping and waking up that we’re designed for.
Treating it is often as simple as restoring the natural sleeping rhythm, sometimes with techniques like “power naps” to restore the body and other times it might be done with a course of medication that can help you to integrate back into a better sleeping pattern. Often Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders are also treated with a combination of changing the patterns to get the right amount of sleep during a different part of the day.
Parasomnias describes a range of different sleep disorders that are related to performing actions that you would normally associate with someone being awake, with the exception that someone is asleep while they’re doing it.
This can include disorders you would commonly think of such as sleep walking and sleep talking, but it might also encompass other conditions that are part of the same umbrella, including sleep paralysis, sleep walking and nightmares. Night terrors are also another common condition which can be part of parasomnias; most people might think of it as something that mostly happens in childhood, but it’s something that can also happen to many adults.
There are many different things that have the potential to cause parasomnia-related conditions, and your medical team’s first step will likely be to establish what the cause is so that the best course of action for treatment can be planned. While everyone’s condition varies (and so will the degree of intensity), there are several things that are known to be the cause of these types of sleep disorders.
Parasomnias – Trauma
Sometimes these conditions can be caused by emotional or physical trauma; it’s commonly seen with cases of combat-fatigue and other forms of trauma. These aren’t the only things that can cause the condition, and it can also happen because of many other different causes including taking certain types of medication, certain dietary factors and genetics.
Of course, there are some cases where there is no preceding trauma before the condition occurs and it occurs naturally – sometimes for a period of time, sometimes chronically until the condition is properly treated by eliminating the cause. Sometimes the conditions can be limited to childhood (for example, night terrors together with sleepwalking are often combined), but this shouldn’t be assumed to always be the case, and it can occur well into adulthood – or only start up at a later stage.
The best way to officially diagnose parasomnias is to make an appointment at a sleep clinic where the disorder and the conditions under which it occurs can be properly studied – this is a vital step for your doctors in order to make sure you’re getting the right treatment for your condition, and follow-up appointments are likely to be needed to ensure that the treatment is effective when it comes to alleviating the condition.
If the condition persists, adaptations will have to be made to the treatment with consistent monitoring to find something more effective.
Sleep Movement Disorders
Sleep movement disorders are characterized by movements of the body that occur either while the person is asleep, or while the person is trying to fall asleep; these conditions can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort in the long-run, and it can even cause other sleep related conditions such as insomnia in the long run when you aren’t getting proper sleep due to an underlying sleep movement disorder.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome is one of the most common manifestations for sleep movement disorders, and anyone who has ever struggled with this condition will know how frustrating it can be – and just what it can do to your sleep routine. There are a thousand and one possible home treatments for what supposedly fixes sleep movement disorders like this, but very few of them are known to actually work – and in most cases, trying to treat restless legs syndrome yourself won’t be effective unless you manage to find the right cause.
Diagnosing sleep movement disorders don’t always require the use of a sleep clinic, and might just require close monitoring of symptoms to keep an eye on the condition and what treatment for it is effective.
Restless legs isn’t the only common sleep movement disorder that you can be diagnosed with: Sometimes periodic limb movements throughout the night that interrupt sleep can be common, and so can cramps in the legs during sleep – which can point to using the wrong mattress or bed to sleep on, or to certain mineral deficiencies and muscle-related conditions; these usually mean that the condition can be fixed as soon as the cause of it is taken care of.
Bruxism is another common condition that can be diagnosed as a movement sleep disorder: It’s more commonly known as grinding the jaw during sleep. There can be several different causes for this, including dietary factors and a side-effect of many types of medication, but the treatment for bruxism tends to be approached in much the same way throughout: The cause should be eliminated where it can be found, but if the condition turns out to be chronic, a mouthpiece might be recommended to reduce the amount of pressure that’s placed on the jaw.
Sometimes cases of sleep movement disorders can be treated with the use of medication, usually mild and on a temporary basis if the cause for the condition is related to something else like a side-effect of another medication.
Having an undiagnosed and untreated sleeping disorder can be frustrating, and for a lot of people it can take years of struggling with a medical issue with an unknown cause before they manage to get help for their conditions; it should be a huge relief to know that sleep disorders are easy to treat in most cases once they have been diagnosed, usually just with the use of a few lifestyle changes and sometimes medication to compliment this treatment.
While many sleep disorders can feel hopeless, especially if you have been struggling with it for months or years at a time, it just takes the right treatment.
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