Sleep disorders refer to a group of conditions that affect the quality, duration, and timing of sleep. These disorders can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restorative sleep. Sleep disorders can have various causes and symptoms, and they can significantly impact a person’s overall health and well-being.
Sleep disorders encompass a wide range of conditions that interfere with normal sleep patterns and can negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health. These disorders can involve difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and impaired daytime functioning.
Common types of sleep disorders include:
Insomnia: Insomnia is characterized by difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. It can be caused by factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, medical conditions, medications, or lifestyle habits.
Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It can lead to snoring, interrupted sleep, and daytime sleepiness. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type and occurs when the airway becomes partially or fully blocked during sleep.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Symptoms worsen during periods of rest or inactivity, leading to disrupted sleep.
Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s control of sleep-wake cycles. It causes excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden episodes of falling asleep, and sometimes involves muscle weakness or paralysis during emotional situations (cataplexy).
Parasomnias: Parasomnias are abnormal behaviors or experiences during sleep. They can include sleepwalking, sleep talking, night terrors, nightmares, and REM sleep behavior disorder (acting out dreams).
It is important to diagnose and address sleep disorders as they can have significant impacts on physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. Treatment options for sleep disorders may include lifestyle changes, behavioral therapies, medications, and, in some cases, medical interventions.
Dr. Michael J. Thorpy – Sleep medicine specialist and expert in sleep disorders, including narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
Dr. Meir Kryger – Pulmonologist and sleep specialist with expertise in sleep disorders and sleep apnea.
Dr. Phyllis C. Zee – Neurologist and sleep medicine specialist, focusing on sleep disorders and circadian rhythms.
Dr. Mark W. Mahowald – Sleep medicine specialist and expert in parasomnias, including REM sleep behavior disorder.
Dr. Shelby Harris – Clinical psychologist specializing in behavioral therapies for insomnia and other sleep disorders.
National Sleep Foundation (NSF): www.sleepfoundation.org
Sleep Education – From AASM: www.sleepeducation.org