Definition of Sleep Disorders
A sleep disorder, or somnipathy, is a medical disorder that can interfere with normal sleep patterns or disrupt a person who is sleeping.
Most people are familiar with the idea that some things might interfere with sleep patterns. Yet, they may not be familiar with the wide range and variety of issues, classifications and symptoms that can be associated with a disorder.
While sleeping problems may seem unimportant to some people, they have the power to reduce your quality of life. In fact, people who don’t get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis may find their physical health starts to deteriorate. Their mental health can also suffer, as depression and anxiety are common symptoms of sleep deprivation.
There are many types of sleep disorders – let’s have a look at the most common ones:
Insomnia: When Falling Asleep Becomes Hard Work
The long term effects of insomnia can be dangerous. Not only is it unsafe to drive and perform many everyday tasks when you’re sleep deprived, but the body’s immune system can become harmed. In extreme cases, such as with fatal familial insomnia, lack of sleep can literally be fatal. Fortunately, this extreme type of insomnia is very rare.
Effects of Insomnia
Even though insomnia can be a disturbing symptom all by itself, it can also lead to other consequences.
- Stress, irritability, mood swings, depression
- Lack of energy
- Poor job performance or difficulty concentrating in school
- At risk when driving or operating equipment
- Compromised immune system
When it comes to stress and mood disorders, you can get caught in a vicious cycle, as these can all be a cause of insomnia. Yet chronic insomnia can also make them worse, as lack of sleep has an impact on your moods and stress levels.
The link between obesity or being overweight with lack of sleep is a relatively new finding. It appears that not getting enough sleep has an effect on the metabolism, and on the part of the brain that influences your appetite. People who sleep less are inclined to eat more, not only because they’re up longer hours but because their brains are giving them the message that they’re hungry.
Parasomnia – The Least Understood Sleep Disorder
Parasomnias can have a variety of effects, some of them strange but harmless, others bizarre and frightening. In some cases, parasomnia can cause a person to commit crimes in their sleep, even killings. While violence committed during sleep is relatively rare, it does happen and the victim can be oneself or another.
Effects of Parasomnia
Pseudo-suicide refers to cases where a person’s behavior during sleep results in death. It’s often considered a suicide, but since there was no conscious intent to commit the act, it’s actually pseudo-suicide. At other times, a person may commit parasomnia homicide, killing another person while asleep.
Most parasomnias are less dramatic than this, but they can still be serious and disturbing. Sleep paralysis, for example, can make it impossible to move as you’re starting to fall asleep or when you wake up. These incidents are sometimes connected to disturbing dreams. Violent dreams and other types of nightmares are also common among people who suffer from parasomnias.
Like other sleep disorders, one of the most potentially harmful effects of parasomnia is sleep deprivation. Both children and adults who frequently experience parasomnia often get much less sleep than they need. Even when they do sleep, it’s often not very restful.
Lack of sleep can bring about many physical and psychological problems. For this reason alone, you should seek medical advice for any type of parasomnia that occurs regularly.
Definition of Nightmare Disorder
Nightmare disorder is also often called ‘dream anxiety’ disorder. It should be noted that nightmares are not the same thing as night terrors, as they happen in completely different phases of the sleep cycle.
In order to be classified as a nightmare, the dream must be bad enough to wake the sleeper. If the sleeper doesn’t wake up, this is classified as a bad dream.
The basis for nightmare disorder is that the sufferer is woken from sleep after experiencing extremely vivid, frightening dreams. They can recall the details clearly, as the dream seems so real.
In most cases, the nightmares involve being in a life-threatening situation that is so scary the person often wakes feeling intense fear, anxiety, and even terror.
People reading this type of nightmare disorder overview may wonder if they have the problem. This is because nightmares are common for most people from time to time. 85% of adults will have a nightmare occasionally. Yet, in order for it to be a disorder, a person will experience these frightening dreams several times a week. In severe cases, it can even be multiple times in one night.
Sleep Terror Disorder: Facts about Night Terrors
Sleep terror disorder is sometimes also referred to as ‘night terrors’, and is a form of parasomniac disorder. It’s important to note that night terrors are not the same thing as nightmares, as they occur in completely different phases of the sleep cycle.
Definition of Sleep Terror
Sleep terror disorder usually affects children between the ages of three to twelve, and is characterized by waking up from sleep with intense feelings of fear or panic.
Many children will scream or call out. Others will sit upright in bed with their eyes open, a fearful look on their faces. In some cases, children may run around in an attempt to evade whatever is frightening them in their dream. Other common characterizations of sleep terror disorder include excessive sweating, rapid breathing rate and increased heart rate.
Symptoms can be as short as a few seconds, or as long as a few minutes.
Parents may simply believe their children are experiencing bad dreams and rush in to comfort the child. Yet, while the child may appear to be awake, with opened eyes and calling out, they often aren’t quite in a fully wakened state. Children may be confused, not recognize parents or other siblings in the room with them, and be completely inconsolable.
While sleep terror disorder is more common among children, there are instances where teenagers and adults may continue to experience symptoms.
Sleep Terror vs Nightmare
The vast majority of people may not fully recognize the differences between a nightmare and night terrors. In order to distinguish the differences between them, it’s important to first understand the characterizations and symptoms of both.
Definition of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing is shallow or interrupted while you’re sleeping. This is a fairly common problem, but it can be serious and can lead to various health problems if not treated.
There are two main types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).
OSA, which is the most common kind, involves a blockage of the airway so not enough air is taken in during sleep.
In CSA, the problem is caused by the brain not signaling the muscles to breathe normally.
There is also mixed sleep apnea, which is a combination of CSA and OSA.
Sleep deprivation is not something that most people seek out or enjoy. In fact, most people are very active in their efforts to avoid it. This is partly because, well, sleeping is enjoyable and partly because the effects of sleep deprivation are wide ranging and can wreak havoc on our daily lives.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Children, Teenagers and Adults over the Long Term
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation vary wildly, depending upon whether the person suffering from it is a child, a teenager or an adult. They also vary depending upon the duration of the sleeplessness.
During the early stages of sleep deprivation, a person might suffer from the following effects of sleep deprivation:
- Upset stomach and nausea
- Memory loss or alteration
- Minor changes in appetite
- Mood problems
- Change in libido
- Cause accidents (many of the automobile accidents reported today are caused by feelings of fatigue, which is brought on by not getting enough sleep)
As the sleep deprivation continues the following effects might start to manifest:
- He or she might begin to hallucinate or suffer from delusions or delirium
- Poor academic performance
- Poor job performance
- Loss of appetite, weight loss or, alternatively, weight gain or even the onset of obesity
- Nose Bleeds
- Dizziness or Vertigo
If it continues further, the following might occur:
- Blurred vision or other vision problems
- Hair Loss
- Inflammation and joint Pain, particularly even in the knees
- Chest Pains
- Changes in blood pressure
If left untreated, a person could even start to have seizures, develop or feed an already existing cancer, go insane or die from sleep deprivation. It sounds extreme to say that sleep deprivation causes death but in some cases this has proven to be true.
What You Should Know About Sleep Paralysis Disorder
Sleep paralysis is not the same as having Night Terrors. In sleep paralysis, the person actually wakes up and is aware of their surroundings. They know they’re in their bed and they understand that they can’t move.
Night Terrors usually happen in children, although it does also appear in adults. In these episodes, the person does not wake up. Rather, they may appear to be awake, as they can sit upright, open their eyes, and look around with a look of terror or panic on their faces. Some will scream or cry out. Others will begin to breathe more rapidly and even begin sweating. Yet, they usually have no recollection of the episodes.
Definition of Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a period of paralysis that occurs either just as a person is falling asleep, or just as a person is waking up. The person is unable to move the body, limbs, or the head for a few seconds up to a few minutes during sleep paralysis.
However, the eyes usually remain able to move. This means the paralysis isn’t complete, but it can feel as though it is to the person experiencing it.
Sleep paralysis isn’t harmful physically. Yet, there is an increase in feelings of anxiety, fear, and stress experienced by those who have repeated episodes.
What You Should Know About Snoring Facts, Signs and Symptoms
People who snore are often the brunt of many jokes. However, those who live with a heavy snorer know all about interrupted sleep patterns.
What most people don’t realize is that there can also be some quite serious health effects associated with chronic or excessive snoring. Surprisingly, research has shown that in some people, snoring can kill you.
Definition of Snoring
Snoring is the sound made when airways are partially obstructed during sleep. The vibration of the uvula and soft palate is what causes the sound, which can be soft and barely noticeable, to loud and extremely annoying for others sleeping in close proximity.
Research into snoring shows it can sometimes be the first indication of another underlying sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.