The term "Sleep Problems" is not only somewhat vague but also subject to interpretation.
According to Wikipedia "Sleep Problems" is carried over into the term "Sleep Disorder" and is defined as "A sleep disorder (somnipathy) is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental and emotional functioning. A test commonly ordered for some sleep disorders is the polysomnogram."
The Polysomnogram is typically referred to as a "Sleep Study" whereby the patient goes to a "sleep center" for the study which typically consists of a technicial placing electrodes on the persons body and connecting them up to a machine. The patient is then isntructed to "try to go to sleep" while they are being monitored both enectronically and via hidden cameras and microphones. The client may be instructed to lay on their back or either side during the course of the study. If found necessary a CPAP or Bi-PAP machine may be introduced to the patient with instructions for it's use.
A CPAP machine is simply a device that provides Continuous Positive Airway Pressure to the patients lungs via a mask of some sort. During the study if a CPAP machine is required it will have the pressure settings adjusted to find the correct airway pressure required by the patient
A Bi-PAP device simply provides Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure to the patients lungs, again via a mask of some sort. Bilevel refers to the fact that this macine delivers different pressures depending on if the patient is inhaling or exhaling. It has greater adjustability than the CPAP device and can deliver higher pressures.
If you have trouble sleeping, snore, wake up short of breath, ect., there is more going on inside your body than just the outward symptoms!
Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders cause:
- High blood pressure
- reduced blood oxygen
- central nervous system disorders
- Can lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke ect.,
Lets look at some of the more common sleep disorders
SnoringThis is the loud noise commonly heard during either inhalation or exhalation while someone is sleeping.
Do you snore when you sleep?
I don't mean the typical snore, but do you SNORE so loudly that your spouse sleeps on the couch?
This type of snoring is due to the soft tissues in your soft palate or throat relaxing and vibrating loudly. This may be a simple or a complex problem that your doctor will want to ask you some questions about.
Asthma can affect sleepDo you wake up short of breath at night?
This could be simple allergies or something more serious.
Your doctor will want to know if you have asthma or known allergies.
He will have other questions for you so you should right down a list of your symptoms including how often you wake up short of breath.
This could be simple like asthma or allergies, or more complex like sleep apnea or other respiratory problems.
NarcolepsyNarcolepsy or dyssomnia, is described as a condition which causes a person to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly. This can be as a result of Sleep Apnea or a neurological condition similar to epilepsy.
If you are falling asleep at work or other times during the day, you need to talk to your doctor.
Odds are if you are having a hard time staying awake during the day it is due to you not receiving a good nights sleep. You may or may not even be aware that you are having a problem sleeping.
Do you fall asleep at odd times, like when you are driving? Too many car accidents happen as a result of the driver falling asleep at the wheel!
Most of us hate to admit it but, it is not all that uncommon for people with sleep disorders to momentarily dose off while at the wheel in heavy traffic!
Falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous for everyone involved, you, your family in the car, and others on the road, sidewalk, street corner, ect!!!
Sleep Apnea (OSA obstructive sleep apnea)This is where the sleeper momentarily wakes several times a night with or without being aware of it to take a breath. Like with snoring the soft palate or throat muscles become lax but instead of simply causing noise (snoring) they cut off the airway. When this happens the oxygen levels in the blood drop to the point that the brain wakes the sleeper to take a breath. This can even happen several times a minute! This not only prevents REM sleep but increases your risk dramatically for ALL of the medical problems listed in the beginning of this article! If you or your doctor feel that you may have sleep apnea you will be prescribed to take a sleep study and a CPAP or Bi-PAP device will probally be prescribed.
Night TerrorsNot just your common nightmare for those who experience night terrors, they frequently see something that is not there and appear to be awake to the observer when in fact they are asleep. During a Night Terror you may appear to be looking at something and responding to something that is not really there, but you still see it.
They can be horrific to the sleeper or a simple nusiance, often the sleeper has no recolection of the episode, but sometimes they do and swear it was real.
NightmaresFrequent unexplained nightmares should be discussed with your doctor
Nightmaresmay appear to be either recurrent, continuations or something different every night.
Everyone experiences nightmares from time time but if they are exceptionally frightening or happen with some regularity you should talk to your doctor
BruxismThis is where you grind your teeth during sleep. Most sufferers are not aware that they have this problem. It can lead to loss of tooth enamel and perhaps exposing the dentin and pulp of the tooth, in some cases the outer edges of the tooth may become almost knifelike in it's sharpness and may cause damage to the tongue and lips of the sleeper. Since this is done on a subconcious level this is not considered nervousness or habit. A person who grinds their teeth during the night may also experience jaw pain, headaches upon waking, morning migraines, TMJ pain, tinnitus, vertigo, neck pain, shoulder pain and much more!
RLS or Restless Leg SyndromeThis is typically characterised as the uncontrollable urge to move one's legs to stop the uncomfortable or odd sensations. This may also affect the arms and torso and in the case of amputee's the missing limbs as well. Moving the affected body part breaks up the sensations providing temporary relief. Sensations can be described as a burning, itching or tickling sensations.
Sometimes referred to as somnambulism or noctambulism is when the sufferer engages in activities that they may normally do while awake. The sleeper may be found cleaning, walking or doing all sorts of other activities, even in some cases Driving a CAR! These people are not exactly unconcious during sleepwalking episodes but they are not fully concious either. Frequently this disorder is seen more commonly in people with high levels of stress, anxiety or psychological factors, family history may play a role as well.
These are some of the most common "Sleep Problems" but is by no means an all enclusive list either.
If you feel that you may be suffering from a Sleep Disorder please discuss your symptoms with your doctor.