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Different types of sleep disorders

There are currently over 80 different types of sleep disorders listed in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.


This is fantastic evidence of how far we've come in the field of sleep medicine in the last handful of decades; however, the fact that an enormous number of people who actually have these various types of sleep disorders are not diagnosed and live without treatment goes to show how very far we still have left to go.

Sleep medicine hasn't yet permeated the medical school curriculum to any significant degree, so there's a large discrepancy between the knowledge that exists about sleep medicine and what most general physicians know about it. As a result, many types of sleep disorders go undiagnosed, mistaken for other ailments whose symptoms may be caused by the sleep disorder


Common Sleep disorders.

The most important sleep disorders are:


Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you've had enough opportunity to sleep. It's difficult to define what normal sleep is because everyone is different. Your age, lifestyle, environment and diet all play a part in influencing the amount of sleep you need. The most common symptoms of insomnia are: Difficulty in falling asleep. Waking up during the night. Waking up early in the morning. Feeling irritable and tired and finding it difficult to function during the day.



Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea or sleep apnoea in British English is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last for several seconds to several minutes, and may occur, by definition, at least 5 times in an hour. Similarly, each abnormally shallow breathing event is called a hypopnea. When breathing is paused, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream. Chemoreceptors in the blood stream note the high carbon dioxide levels. The brain is signaled to wake the person sleeping and breathe in air. Breathing normally will restore oxygen levels and the person will fall asleep again. Sleep apnea is often diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or "sleep study". There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e., a combination of central and obstructive). Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body. Symptoms may be present for years (or even decades) without identification, during which time the person may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with sleep disturbance. Sleep apnea affects not only adults but some children as well.




Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) also known as Willis-Ekbom disease is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one's body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It most commonly affects the legs, but can affect the arms, torso, head, and even phantom limbs. Moving the affected body part modulates the sensations, providing temporary relief. Restless legs syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS).Some people have the symptoms of restless legs syndrome occasionally, while others have them every day. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, restless legs syndrome can be very distressing and disrupt a person's daily activities.



Narcolepsy is a rare, long-term brain disorder that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times. The brain is unable to regulate sleeping and waking patterns normally, which can result in excessive daytime sleepiness – feeling very drowsy throughout the day, and having difficulty concentrating and staying awake. Sleep attacks – falling asleep suddenly and without warning. Cataplexy– temporary loss of muscle control, often in response to emotions such as laughter and anger. Sleep paralysis – a temporary inability to move or speak when waking up or falling asleep. Narcolepsy should not cause serious or long-term physical health problems, but it can have a significant impact on daily life.



Circadian rhythm sleeps disorder.

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD) are a family of sleep disorders affecting, among other things, the timing of sleep. People with circadian rhythm sleep disorders are unable to sleep and wake at the times required for normal work, school, and social needs. They are generally able to get enough sleep if allowed to sleep and wake at the times dictated by their body clocks. Unless they also have another sleep disorder, the quality of their sleep is usually normal.



Hypnic jerk

A hypnic jerk, hypnagogic jerk, sleep start, sleep twitch or night start, is an involuntary twitch which occurs just as a person is beginning to fall asleep, often causing them to awaken suddenly for a moment. Physically, hypnic jerks resemble the "jump" experienced by a person when startled, often accompanied by a falling sensation. Hypnic jerks are associated with a rapid heartbeat, quickened breathing, sweat, and sometimes "a peculiar sensory feeling of 'shock' or 'falling into the void. A higher occurrence is reported in people with irregular sleep schedules. In other words, when the effects of sleep are just beginning to take over your body and brain, your waking self seems to creep back in unexpectedly sometimes, startling you awake.


How thyroid affects sleep.

Both an underactive and an overactive thyroid can affect your sleep habits. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, can cause fatigue, lack of energy, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, can cause anxiety, rapid heart rate, and insomnia

The thyroid hormones work in a feedback loop with your brain — particularly your pituitary, hypothalamus and adrenals — in regulating the release of thyroid hormone. Your pituitary makes TRH (thyroid releasing hormone), and your hypothalamus makes TSH. If everything is working properly, you will make what you need and you’ll have the proper amounts of T3 and T4. Those two thyroid hormones — T3 and T4 — are what control the metabolism of every cell in your body. But their delicate balance can be disrupted by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, and stress. If your hormones are off balance your whole system suffers.

Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is located in the front lower part of your neck. Hormones released by the gland travel through your bloodstream and affect nearly every part of your body, from your heart and brain, to your muscles and skin.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Fatigue, Weakness, weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight, dry hair, rough pale skin, hair loss, cold intolerance (you can't tolerate cold temperatures like those around you),muscle cramps , frequent muscle aches and excessive daytime sleepiness.


Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)

Hyperthyroidism is a disorder in which your thyroid gland makes and releases more thyroid hormone than your body needs. Your doctor may say you have an "overactive thyroid," or refer to the condition as "overactive thyroid disease."

Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck. Hormones released by the thyroid affect nearly every part of your body from your brain to your skin and muscles. They play a crucial role in controlling how your body uses energy, a process called metabolism. This includes how your heart beats and even how you burn calories.

Women are five to 10 times more likely to develop hyperthyroidism than men.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperactivity, mood swings – such as anxiety, irritability and nervousness, difficulty sleeping (insomnia),feeling tired all the time (fatigue), muscle weakness, needing to pass faeces or urine more frequently.


Is the Moon Affecting Your Sleep?

The relationship between human behavior and the phases of the moon has long been the stuff of legend and folklore. Werewolves aside, cultures throughout history have paid great attention—and celebration—to lunar phases. Beliefs about a connection between some of our most basic biological processes—including sleep—have also been common. But scientific evidence show connections between human sleep and lunar cycles? That’s not something we’ve seen until now.

Swiss scientists conducted a study (link is external) that suggests (link is external) sleep is significantly affected by lunar phases. Their results show changes to sleep throughout the moon’s 29.5-day cycle, and significant increases to sleep disruption during the time immediately surrounding the full moon.