If you have lost count of how many times you’ve suffered from sleepless nights, interrupted sleep, or poor-quality sleep, then you’re certainly not alone.
Some of the common symptoms of sleep disorders include: lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, memory loss and forgetfulness, diminished productivity and performance at school or work, depression, lack of energy, mood disturbances (e.g. irritability, anger, impulsive actions, etc.), irregular breathing, fatigued driving, and a general decreased quality of life.
Common Sleep Disorders
Based on Dr. Avi Weisfogel, the creator and owner of the International Academy of Sleep (IAOS), there are over 70 recognized forms of sleep ailments , and one of the most common are sleep apnea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome, respectively.
About 10% of adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic insomnia, which can be a debilitating condition that is characterized by: difficulty falling asleep at night, often waking up in the middle of the night and with problems falling asleep, and frequently waking up considerably earlier than planned or desired. Generally, chronic insomnia refers to situations where insomnia continues for at least three weeks, and acute insomnia refers to shorter durations. Dr. Avi Weisfogel notes that a lot of men and women switch between bouts of acute and chronic insomnia. He also adds that the illness may temporarily relieve for weeks or months at a stretch before returning.
Sleep apnea (formally referred to as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA) affects about 20 million people in the U.S. However, Dr. Avi Weisfogel notes that as many as 90 percent of these individuals are living with undiagnosed and therefore untreated sleep apnea, either because they do not know they have this debilitating and potentially fatal condition, or they do not realize it is a serious problem that needs to be evaluated by a health care professional.
Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in the throat relax during sleep and block the upper respiratory system. A partial blockage typically causes snoring, even though a complete blockage causes an individual to stop breathing for several seconds during the night. This forced the brain to wake up and triggers violent gasping and hacking, to be able to clear the airway and allow oxygen to enter the lungs.
As noted above, a lot of men and women who undergo this process on a regular basis — and it can happen several times a night — are unaware it is happening. As such, upon awakening they typically feel tired and irritable, but do not understand why (or they attribute it to the wrong root cause, like something they ate or an argument, they had the night before). In addition, the burden placed on the respiratory system puts a strain on the heart, which may result in heart attack, heart arrhythmia, heart failure, and other serious and possibly fatal cardiological problems.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological disorder that compels individuals to constantly move their legs, feet, and possibly other body parts during sleep. The compulsion is triggered by sensations like itching, aching, burning, throbbing and pulsing. Understandably, the constant need to shift position wreaks havoc on sleep quality. Just like sleep apnea, many folks who suffer from restless leg syndrome are unaware that they have a clinical condition for which treatment and drugs are available. Dietary and lifestyle changes may also alleviate or eliminate symptoms.
If you know or believe that you’re suffering from one of them or any other sleep disorders, then talk with your primary care physician. A growing number of dentists are also offering their patients sleep apnea evaluations. Adds Dr. Avi Weisfogel: it is a mistake for people to assume that sleep disorders correct themselves over time, or that poor quality sleep is something which they need to learn how to live together and accept. Neither of them are true. The issue is serious, and help is available.