Sleep Disorders

Below are some brief descriptions of common sleep disorders.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive apnea, in which the person stops breathing during sleep due to airway blockage. Sufferers usually resume breathing within a few seconds, but periods of as long as sixty seconds are not uncommon in serious cases. It is more common amongst people who snore, who are obese, who consume alcohol, or who have anatomical abnormalities of the jaw or soft palate. However, atypical cases do occur, and the condition should not be ruled out unilaterally merely because the patient does not fit the profile.

Central Sleep Apnea: This caused by a temporary failure of the brain to send signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Insomnia: Insomnia is characterized by an inability to sleep and/or to remain asleep for a reasonable period. Insomniacs typically complain of being unable to close their eyes or "rest their mind" for more than a few minutes at a time. Insomnia is a symptom, though a common misconception is that it is itself a sleep disorder. Insomnia is most often caused by sleep disorders, but other causes include fear, stress, anxiety, medications, herbs, and caffeine. An overactive mind or physical pain may also be a cause. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it.

Restless Leg Syndrome: This is a condition in which sufferers experience unpleasant sensations in the legs, especially the calves, thighs, and feet, especially at night. Often, patients complain of crawling, tingling, aching, stabbing, heaviness, or pins and needles sensations in one or both legs and even arms, usually when lying down or sitting. Involuntary leg movements often occur at night or sometimes during the day. It can affect up to 15 percent of the American population.

Narcolepsy: This is a neurological condition characterized by severe fatigue, irresistible episodes of sleep, and general sleep disorder. It is a kind of dyssomnia.