Category Archives: Sleep Disorders

Hypopnea syndrome

OVERVIEW:
Hypopnea syndrome refers to episodes of extremely shallow or slow breathing during sleep. These episode interfere with the body’s ability to get enough oxygen. They may induce repeated waking up during sleep, though the sleeper is not always aware that this happens.

Hypopnea Syndrome This disrupted sleep cycle causes symptoms similar to those of sleep apnea, in which the sufferer has trouble feeling rested during the day and may be depressed or forgetful.

This sleep disorder is not identical to sleep apnea, however, since some air is flowing through the respiratory system at all times.

Up to a quarter of men between 30 and 60 years old and about 9 percent of women in this age group suffer from this problem, but it can be hard to estimate the true number because most people never get diagnosed.

While this problem isn’t as serious as sleep apnea, it can still worsen over time and increases a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke.

SYMPTOMS:
This condition tends to disrupt sleep patterns during the night, causing patients to get poor quality sleep and to miss vital deep and REM sleep stages.

That leads to a number of unpleasant symptoms:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Ease of fatigue
  • Lethargy and low energy levels
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Headaches upon waking
  • Irritability
  • Strong mood swings
  • Loud snoring and snorting
  • Forgetfulness
  • Nervousness
  • Low productivity

People who suffer from hypopnea often spend a lot of time asleep, but they wake feeling unrested. They may also find themselves sleeping at unusual hours or suffering from insomnia due to unusual sleep patterns.

Their loud snoring, punctuated by periods of silence, can be an irritation for partners and family members and may cause serious strain on relationships.

CAUSES:
A person may suffer from hypopnea syndrome for a number of reasons, including:

  • Congenital defects of the throat and nose
  • Tonsillitis
  • Adenoid infections
  • Obesity or high weight
  • Weakened respiratory muscles
  • Age
  • Airway obstruction
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol or sedative use

Like sleep apnea, hypopnea happens more often in people who are overweight or obese. It can also happen in some people who have relatively low levels of body fat, but who naturally have thick necks or who have a high body weight due to muscle gain.

Many of the same factors that influence sleep apnea and snoring are also causes of hypopnea syndrome.

TREATMENT:
The treatments for hypopnea syndrome are similar to those used for sleep apnea. All of them involve reducing airway obstruction or changing the shape of the airway to increase airflow and reduce the risk of low-oxygen states. They include:

  • CPAP treatment with a mask and externally-enforced air pressure
  • BPAP treatment, a muscle and nerve-stimulating drug for people with neuromuscular problems
  • Oral appliances made by a dentist
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in sleep position
  • Avoiding drugs, alcohol and sleep medication
  • Surgery on the soft palate, tonsils, uvula, tongue or adenoids

While it may be easier to deal with having hypopnea than sleep apnea, this disorder should never go untreated. Getting treatment for this problem can greatly reduce daytime tiredness and improve mental health.

It also decreases the risk of eventual heart and other cardiovascular problems, which can be aggravated by the low oxygen states associated with hypopnea syndrome.

RESOURCES:
For more information on dental devices: http://www.ihatecpap.com/oral_appliance.html
For more CPAP information: http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/equip.html


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Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

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OVERVIEW: 

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder in which a person’s sleep cycle is shifted hours later than a conventional bedtime. This causes the sufferer to also wake up later than desired, therefore reinforcing the pattern.

Sleepiness, secretion of melatonin and the appropriate core body temperatures required for falling asleep and waking up is all delayed by a proportionate amount of hours.

Although people with DSPS can’t get to sleep any earlier than about 2am to 6am, they basically fall asleep on the same nightly schedule and their sleep is of normal quality and duration.

If left to their own sleep routine (say, 4am-12pm), they generally will not exhibit symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness. But, of course, if the person has school, work or family responsibilities in the morning this will cause problems.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome patients are often referred to as “night owls” and are most alert and productive in the wee hours of the night.

SYMPTOMS:

  • Unable to fall asleep at a desired earlier time
  • Unable to wake up at a desired earlier time
  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorder has lasted for 3 months

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)CAUSE:

Although Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (also called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) and Delayed Sleep Phase Type (DSPT) can occur in any demographic, young adults, especially college students are the most common group affected by this disorder, due to having to stay up late studying for school. And then there’s the partying… As a result, their internal sleep cycle adjusts to this schedule.

This can cause complications if the student has to get up for early classes. Their concentration will be poor, they’ll likely have mood issues and they will eventually acquire a sleep debt. Shift workers can also develop delayed sleep phase syndrome due to their late or rotating schedules.

Adolescents are especially susceptible to DSPS and even cases in younger children have been recorded. Adolescents who refuse to participate in a plan to reinstate healthy sleep patterns, may be experiencing clinical depression. It is uncommon for Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome onset to take place after the age of 30.

The objectives of treatment are to readjust the body clock back to a normal bedtime. If the subject does not want to change his or her pattern, the goal will be very difficult to accomplish. To reclaim a more traditional schedule:

Practice healthy sleep hygiene: 

  • Don’t nap during the day
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime
  • Exercise
  • Educate yourself about foods that keep you awake and foods that make you sleepy
  • Only use your bed for sleep or sex (no TV, phone, texting, games, reading, etc.)
  • The bedroom should be a relaxing environment kept at a comfortable temperature, and suitably dark when appropriate

Morning sunlight:

  • Open curtains, blinds or shades first thing in the morning for immediate exposure to natural light. This helps enforce a healthy sleep/wake cycle.

Bright light therapy:

  • The same principle holds true as with natural sunlight – exposure to rays from light boxes for approximately 25 minutes in the morning will help reset the body’s internal clock.

Chronotherapy:

  • This therapy involves using a regulated schedule to eventually retrain the brain’s proper sleep pattern.

Melatonin:

  • Melatonin is a sleep hormone produced by the body, but it is also available in an over-the-counter synthesized form. No prescription is necessary for purchase. Nevertheless, consult your doctor before considering taking melatonin.

Sleeping pills:

  • OTC and prescription sleep medications can sometimes be helpful if used as prescribed. Pills can make matters even worse if proper directions are not followed, not to mention the potential for abuse.

If you think you may have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, seek proper medical counsel.

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Snoring Solutions

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snoring solutionsOVERVIEW:

People all across the world are looking for snoring solutions, whether they want to help themselves or a partner.

That’s because snoring is more than just a noisy annoyance. It often leads to poor quality sleep in both partners, resulting in irritability, tiredness during the day, and an increased chance of getting sick.

People who suffer from severe snoring may also find that it causes problems in their relationships. This can include an increased risk of arguments, as well as loss of intimacy caused by sleeping apart.

Snoring can even indicate serious underlying health problems, such as growths in the nose and throat or sleep apnea. It should never be mistaken for a minor problem. This leaves many people desperate and willing to try any snoring cures they encounter.

Before you can choose the best snoring remedies for your situation, however, you need to understand why snoring occurs.

SYMPTOMS:

Snoring is a fairly obvious disorder. It occurs when the air moving through a person’s nose and throat causes the soft tissue to vibrate. When people are awake, they use the same vibrations to speak. When they’re asleep, those vibrations are uncontrolled.

Snoring may involve snorting sounds, loud “sawing” noises, nasal whistles and a range of other sounds. It may be consistent or irregular. Some people snore more because they naturally have softer tissue or more of it.

CAUSES:

The following causes can cause snoring to develop or increase in frequency or severity.

  • Age
  • Loss of muscle tone in the throat
  • Smoking or drinking
  • Weight gain
  • Poor physical condition
  • Congenital nose and throat abnormalities
  • Narrowed breathing passages
  • Allergies, colds and other respiratory disorders
  • Nasal polyps and other growths
  • Taking some medications
  • Poor sleep posture

Anyone can develop a snoring problem, but the condition is more likely to appear in men, who naturally have narrower breathing passages.

Those with larger neck circumferences are also more likely to start snoring, even if the larger size of their necks is due to muscle development rather than fat. This is because larger necks are more likely to compress the air passages, making it harder to breathe.

Some people may have a more serious underlying problem if they snore regularly and loudly. Called sleep apnea, this sleep disorder actually obstructs breathing completely, causing frequent wake-ups.

Sleep apnea causes extreme fatigue and can contribute to a range of health issues. This snoring cause can even be life-threatening in severe cases.

TREATMENT:

Finding the right snoring cures often depends on figuring out the underlying cause of the snoring. Fortunately, there are some treatment options that are inexpensive and work for most patients.

These all-purpose snoring solutions include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased physical activity
  • Establishing healthy, regular sleep patterns
  • Reduction in smoking and drinking
  • Reduction in sedative and sleeping pill use
  • Sleeping on your side with your head elevated
  • Using a humidifier in dry climates
  • Avoiding dairy products before bed

Even in severe cases and patients who also have sleep apnea, these behaviors can do a lot to reduce snoring. They aren’t necessarily snoring cures, though.

If the snoring problem has been caused by an illness, growth, or other condition, you may have to participate in physical therapy, have surgery, or wear a medical device when you sleep. These snoring solutions may seem expensive or complicated, but they can lead to healthier sleep and a better quality of life.

Here are a few more advanced snoring remedies:

  • Mouth, throat, and jaw exercises to strengthen and tone soft tissue
  • Dental appliances or lower jaw positioners to open your airways during sleep
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines
  • Surgical removal of soft tissue, including polyps and other growths
  • Surgical implantation of plastic devices to stiffen soft tissue

Patients should seek medical snoring solutions and the advice of a doctor whenever their partners report that they snore heavily and loudly, especially if they gasp, twitch or choke while they’re asleep.

Other “red flags” for snoring include extreme daytime tiredness and a tendency to fall asleep at inappropriate times. Some people may even find themselves asleep at meals or during conversations.

If you have these symptoms, your doctor may use home or clinic-based sleep tests to identify whether your snoring is caused by a more serious problem. Then, you can discuss the snoring solutions available to you.

RESOURCES:
For more information on dental devices:
http://www.ihatecpap.com/oral_appliance.html
http://www.quit-yer-snoring.com
For more CPAP information: http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/equip.html

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Hypersomnia

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HypersomniaOVERVIEW:
Hypersomnia is the medical term used to refer to excessive sleepiness. People with this condition have difficulty staying awake during the day and suffer from the risk of falling asleep in a meeting, at meals, or while driving.

Many hypersomnia sufferers also have other problems related to poor sleep, including cloudy thinking and reduced energy. As much as 40 percent of people may suffer from this problem at some point in their lives.

SYMPTOMS:
Hypersomnia is relatively easy to recognize in its most serious forms, but people with milder cases may not realize that they have a problem.

Common symptoms of hypersomnia include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • A tendency to drift off during conversations or at other inappropriate times
  • Feeling tired after waking up in the morning

People suffering from this sleep disorder often find that they spend a significant amount of time sleeping, but never feel truly rested. After a long period of sleep, they may feel disoriented and have trouble waking up, a condition called “sleep drunkenness.”

Hypersomniacs may also have trouble remembering things, suffer from hallucinations, have a reduced appetite, or feel restless, anxious and irritated.


CAUSES:
There are several reasons a person might develop hypersomnia. These include:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Head injuries
  • Neurological disorders
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Family history of the disorder
  • Use of tranquilizers or other prescription drugs

Hypersomnia tends to occur more frequently in those who are overweight, though the weight gain may be a symptom of the sleep disorder, rather than a cause.

Some illnesses, including mononucleosis, cause fatigue and hypersomnia. Influenza may also have this effect in children. In some people with lower than normal levels of thyroid hormone, treatment can reduce daytime sleepiness and related symptoms.

TREATMENT:
Treating hypersomnia requires different approaches depending on the underlying cause of the sleepiness. People who suffer from neurological problems like Kleine-Levin syndrome, for instance, require a different treatment plan than those who are hypersomniac due to tranquilizer use.

Doctors must first determine the reason for the hypersomnia in order to provide relief. Treatment may involve changing medications, adjusting sleep habits, reducing drug dependence or treating related disorders such as sleep apnea.

In cases where the doctor can’t determine why the patient is feels sleepy, the hypersomnia is diagnosed as being idiopathic. In these cases, as well as in some other types of hypersomnia, symptomatic treatment is appropriate.

These treatments may involve:

  • Prescribing stimulants to help regulate the sleep schedule
  • Improving the diet
  • Avoiding certain types of drugs including alcohol and caffeine
  • Prescribing antidepressants



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Nightmares

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NightmaresIt’s an unfortunate fact of life that most of us experience nightmares and/or night terrors from time to time. Sadly these sometimes terrifying nocturnal dreams can really leave adults and children feeling rather shaken, even once the night has passed and the full light of day has dawned.

Frightening visual dream sequences can result in a sleeper awakening suddenly. Residual feelings of fear and anxiety are not uncommon. Other reactions can include an elevated heart rate, perspiration, and diluted pupils. Those who routinely experience sleep or night terrors might experience these behaviors more acutely or intensely.

What Are The Causes Of Nightmares?
Among the various reasons why an adult or child might have nightmares are the following:

Stress or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Of the various causes of nightmares, either stress or PTSD are believed to be the most common. A person that has been exposed to a trauma of some kind might well develop PTSD with nightmares often accompanying the disorder. Alternatively the nightmares might only begin to occur some time after the traumatic event that was personally experienced or witnessed. It can therefore be difficult to make the connection between the nightmares and PTSD.

Sleep Disorders
Individuals with sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) might find that not only the quality and quantity of their sleep is affected, but also that they experience nightmares. Treating these particular conditions will aid greatly in solving the nightmare problems.

Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorder
Those suffering with depression, anxiety and panic disorder are known to experience panic attacks that occur even during the sleep cycle. These individuals may also complain of nightmares that occur on a regular basis which leave them feeling afraid and endangered.

Medication
Nightmares may be caused by a particular medication being taken. Consult your doctor to see if the prescription can be changed or dosage altered. Antidepressants, blood pressure medication and narcotics have been linked to nightmares. Be careful of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine consumption, as these substances can contribute to poor sleep hygiene, resulting in bad dreams.

What Help Is Available For Those Suffering With Nightmares?
Treatment for nightmares is usually psychological and/or psychopharmacological in approach.  However, there are alternative treatments involving holistic treatment options.

Psychological Treatment
Numerous studies have been done to determine the efficacy of psychological treatment when it comes to nightmares. The University of New Mexico, for instance, discovered through a number of studies, that results proved to be very promising, especially for those patients that were suffering with PTSD.

After receiving psychological treatment, PTSD sufferers experienced a marked decrease in the frequency of their nightmares as well as improved sleep quality. Because the treatment approach was cognitive-behavioral, there were no medications involved. The patients were given tools and strategies that they could utilize to improve their quality of sleep.

What Are Some Other Ways Of Dealing With Nightmares?

Healthy Habits
Ensuring adequate amounts of exercise, adjusting diet, and reducing intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, as well as sugars might help to put an end to nightmares in both adults and children.

In the case of kids, it is important that parents and caregivers understand that nightmares can be very traumatic for children. It is understandable that they are reluctant to go back to sleep after awakening from a frightening nightmare.

Make sure children are not overstimulated before going to bed as a result of these things:

  • Diet (sugar, caffeine)
  • Playing video games
  • Watching violent movies
  • Talking or texting on mobile phone
  • Roughhousing with friends or siblings
  • Constant bombardment of new information and new experiences

Unfortunately, children are more prone to nightmares than adults. While this is distressing, it is also important that parents do not overreact when their child or children experiences nightmares, because these nocturnal dreams are a normal part of life. It is only when nightmares occur with frequency or as a result of a traumatic experience that measures should be taken.



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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

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OVERVIEW:
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep. This can happen hundreds of times throughout the night. As a result, the brain and the rest of the body don’t receive the proper amount of oxygen. If you snore loudly at night and feel tired the next day after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea.

Although, sleep apnea is most common in adults, in rare cases, children may suffer from this condition as well. This disorder is a progressive condition that gets worse as you get older and should be addressed as soon as possible.

The three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most universal of three types. OSA takes place when relaxation or collapse of the throat muscles causes airway blockage.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) happens as a result of the brain failing to send proper signals to control the breathing muscles. CSA is does NOT involve blocked airways.
  • Mixed sleep apnea combines both OSA and CSA.

Who is at risk?

  • If you are male
  • If you are overweight
  • If you are over forty years old
  • If you have a large neck size (men and women)
  • If you have large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
  • If sleep apnea runs in your family
  • If you have acid reflux disease
  • If you have allergies and/or other sinus problems

Symptoms and warning signs

  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Disorientation upon awakening
  • Daytime drowsiness and fatigue
  • Frequent urination throughout the night
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive perspiration while sleeping
  • Gasping, snorting or choking during the night
  • Chest retraction in young children while sleeping
  • Decreased attention span and concentration
  • Problems with memory
  • Poor work performance
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Accelerated weight gain
  • Heartburn
  • Diminished libido

The symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe in nature.

Effects of Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to the following health problems:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Impotence
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beats)
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart failure

Additionally, this sleep disorder may cause poor performance in work and school and an increase in everyday accidents, including car crashes.

How do you know if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of painless tests called polysomnograms to diagnose sleep apnea.

The first type of polysomnography is administered overnight in a sleep lab. This test monitors your brain waves, muscle activities, eye movements, heart rate, blood oxygen level and monitors audio for snoring and gasping.

The second kind of polysomnography is a home monitoring test. After taking home a computerized polysomnograph, a Sleep Technologist will connect you to electrodes and explain how to record your sleep data. You bring back the machine and data the morning.

TREATMENT:
There are nonsurgical and surgical options for the treatment of sleep apnea.

NONSURGICAL OPTIONS

Behavioral Modification
Mild sleep apnea can usually be corrected by implementing changes in your behavior and habits, such as:

  • Starting a weight loss program
  • Staying away from alcohol
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills
  • Altering sleep positions to restore proper breathing
  • Quit smoking
  • Using nasal sprays and breathing strips to clear nasal congestion
  • Not sleeping on your back

Dental Devices
You can purchase oral devices designed to keep your airway open. They work to improve your breathing and diminish snoring in three different ways.

  1. Move the jaw forward
  2. Lift the soft palate
  3. Prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway

If necessary, you can also have these devices custom made by dentists who specialize in the area of sleep apnea.

Sleep ApneaModerate and severe sleep apnea is generally treated with C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure). This C-PAP machine uses a face mask to deliver a continuous flow of air pressure, opening the airway and keeping it unobstructed.

A Bi-level (Bi-PAP) machine is used for more severe apnea. The Bi-level machine blows air using two separate pressures. A higher pressure is used for when a person is inhaling and a lower pressure is used for exhaling.  A sleep doctor “prescribes” your particular pressure and the machine is set up by a home health care company that also gives training in its use and maintenance.

Surgical Options
Surgery may be necessary if you have any of the following issues causing sleep apnea as a result of an abnormally narrow throat:

  • A deviated septum
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • A large tongue
  • A undersized lower jaw with overbite

Correcting a deviated septum and removing tonsils, adenoids or polyps may help to unblock your nasal passageways. Usually, it’s children that have their tonsils and adenoids removed.

Here are the most common surgical procedures used to remedy sleep apnea:

  • Pillar palatal implant: A procedure that uses implants to stiffen the soft palate and stop snoring.
  • Nasal surgery: Corrects a deviated septum and other nasal obstructions.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): Removes uvula and tissue in the throat, therefore widening the airway opening.
  • Mandibular maxillar advancement surgery: Corrects specific facial malformations or obstructions to the throat that cause sleep apnea.
  • Laser assisted uvuloplasty (LAUP): Removes the uvula and tissue that surrounds the airway behind the palate. 
  • Radio frequency (RF) procedure and somnoplasty: Both of these procedures correct chronic snoring, nasal obstruction and OSA with the use of radio waves to shrink tissue in the air passages.

Be sure to use a doctor who has a lot of experience in these procedures and is very knowledgeable in the area of sleep apnea. Always do your research and ask tons of questions!

Resources:
For more information on dental devices: http://www.ihatecpap.com/oral_appliance.html
For more CPAP information: http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/equip.html


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Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis

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 OVERVIEW:
Sleep Paralysis is a type of sleep disorder that is experienced when a person, upon waking up or going to sleep, finds that they cannot move their body or even speak. Sometimes the sufferer may even feel like they’re being choked. In most cases, the condition may last from a few seconds to several minutes. It can be very frightening! Throughout the centuries, superstitious people have attributed these scary episodes to the presence of evil spirits or spells and even alien abduction.

This is not a dangerous condition however, and is relatively common. According to research, sleep paralysis is the body’s natural protection mechanism that prevents us from physically acting out what we experience in dreams. But, when this condition happens during a waking state it is due to the body not properly transitioning between sleep and consciousness. It is called predormital sleep paralysis when the condition happens at the onset of the sleep cycle and postdormital sleep paralysis when it happens upon awakening.

SYMPTOMS:
There are many different symptoms associated with sleep paralysis. The most common are as follows:

  • Inability to move certain parts of the body when starting to fall asleep, or when waking up
  • Partial or complete paralysis of the musculoskeletal system
  • Hallucinations – which may be a combination of both visual and auditory disturbances
  • Inability to speak when an episode occurs
  • Sensation of being choked or feeling an immense amount of pressure on their body
  • Anxiety as a result of fearing onset of a sleep paralysis episode

Sleep ParalysisCAUSE:
According to statistics, approximately four of every ten individuals may suffer from this sleep disorder. People may first notice this condition when in their teens, but episodes can occur in men and women at any age. In many cases, the cause is felt to be directly related to genetics. However, there are many other factors that may result in the onset of the symptoms of this sleep condition. They are as follows:

  • Changes or mild adjustments to their sleep schedule
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder
  • Underlying medical conditions such as leg cramps or narcolepsy
  • Certain types of chemicals found in prescription drugs and illicit drugs

TREATMENT:
In the majority of cases, those that experience this disorder do not require any special type of treatment. However, medical professionals have suggested the following courses of actions to those that find sleep paralysis to be exceptionally troublesome:

  • Improving their sleep habits
  • Scheduling seven to eight hours of sleep nightly
  • Sticking to a regular bedtime schedule
  • Making lifestyle changes such as eliminating the use of caffeine and alcohol prior to bed.
  • If underlying physiological or psychological conditions exist, a doctor may try to treat those problems in order to eliminate the occurrence of sleep paralysis
  • Medications to properly regulate sleep cycle

If you feel as if you are suffering from sleep paralysis, you should voice your concerns with your doctor. Upon doing so, they will likely evaluate your general health, habits and stress levels to determine if you are truly suffering from this sleep disorder and the severity of your case. Once a confirmed diagnosis is made, the medical professional will explain treatment options that may help provide relief for your condition.


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Sleep Bruxism

Sleep Bruxism (Teeth Grinding/Clenching)

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Sleep BruxismOVERVIEW:
People with bruxism clench their jaw and grind their teeth during the day and while they sleep at night. These individuals are usually unaware of their condition. Often a sleeping partner or parent may be the first ones to become aware of the behavior.

Bruxism is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, receding gums and other dental issues.

Being one of the most common sleep disorders, sleep bruxism affects practically everybody at some point in their lives, but is usually at such a moderate level that it doesn’t cause health problems.

The following factors may determine whether bruxism becomes a source of pain or other problems for an individual:

  • Duration and amount of pressure applied when clenching jaw and grinding teeth
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Posture
  • Stress level
  • Relaxation ability
  • Diet
  • Sleep hygiene

Only about 5% of the population develops symptoms that may include:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ)
  • Neck pain
  • Earaches
  • Tinnitus
  • Insomnia
  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders

CAUSE:

  • High levels of caffeine consumption
  • Excessive Alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Tension
  • Use of stimulant drugs (amphetamines, ecstasy)
  • Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases

The force and pressure of clenching teeth causes problems with the muscles, tissues, and bone surrounding the jaw. This behavior can result in temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ).

TREATMENT:

  • Applying ice or heat to jaw
  • Don’t eat hard foods or chew on non-food items (pencils, etc.)
  • Drink lots of water
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Stretching exercises
  • Massaging muscles of neck, shoulders and face
  • Relaxation techniques to reduce stress
  • Dental guards and splints
  • Correction of misaligned teeth
  • Biofeedback
  • Contingent electric stimulation

An extremely diluted form of Botox is used to partially paralyze, weaken and ‘relax’ the muscles of the face.

Dietary Supplements such as magnesium and calcium may help relieve sleep bruxism.

If you suspect that you may have sleep bruxism or related issues that are causing pain or other serious problems, contact a doctor or dentist for a full evaluation.




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Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome

OVERVIEW:
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological based disorder that is characterized by one or more unpleasant sensations that primarily affect the legs and is highly disturbing to the sufferer. The uncomfortable feelings that are experienced may include feeling as if the leg or legs are throbbing, crawling or feeling as if the leg or legs are being pulled. In most instances, the sufferer also feels an uncontrollable urge to put the legs in motion. In many cases, this urge is considered to be highly overwhelming to the sufferer. When an individual suffers from this sleep disorder, the majority of their symptoms will occur when they are attempting to relax, or rest. As soon as the legs are moved, the discomfort is relieved.

SYMPTOMS:
Individuals that suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome often experience numerous symptoms related to their condition. In nearly all cases, it is believed that the process of relaxation actually activates the uncomfortable and troublesome symptoms. This is why, in most instances, the problems associated with this condition occur at night or increase in severity throughout the night. Here are the most common symptoms associated with this sleep disorder:

  • It is common for RLS sufferers to experience a wide array of sensations that they describe as uncomfortable. These sensations are often described as being similar to “pins and needles”, or as if something is “crawling” on the legs. In some cases, the legs may feel itchy. These sensations are generally experienced when the patient is relaxing or resting.
  • When the sensations occur, most patients feel as if they need to put the legs in motion in order to alleviate the feelings.
  • Many patients experience the troublesome feelings in areas other than the legs. The symptoms may occur in the arms, as well as the feet.
  • Individuals with Restless Leg Syndrome can suffer from the inability to fall asleep easily and the inability to stay asleep. As a result, people with RLS may develop anxiety when it comes time to go to bed or relax because they fear they will experience the uncomfortable sensations that often interfere with their ability to sleep.
  • Not getting the proper amount of rest each night can cause daytime fatigue, cognitive impairments, low concentration levels, memory issues, emotional disturbances and mental issues such as depression and anxiety.
  • According to statistics, at least 80% of all RLS sufferers will experience leg twitches and jerking movements at regular intervals while sleeping. These symptoms are directly related to a condition referred to as Periodic Limb Movement of Sleep or “PLMS” for short. As a result of suffering from this additional condition, patients find that their sleep is continuously and severely disrupted.

Restless Leg SyndromeCAUSE:
In general, the exact cause of this sleep complication is not known. However, studies on patients diagnosed with the sleep disorder have discovered many potential factors that may play a role in who does and does not experience the disorder and to what extent it is experienced. Nearly all research indicates that there is a strong genetic based link among individuals that suffer from RLS. In addition to genetic susceptibility, the following factors may lead to the development of Restless Leg Syndrome:

  • Many professionals have discovered that those who suffer from this sleep disorder have low iron levels within the brain.
  • Many doctors believe that this sleep disorder could be a result of a dysfunction in the part of the brain known as the “Basal Ganglia”. This area utilizes the neurotransmitter that is known as dopamine, which is necessary for the body to create muscle activity and movements that are considered to be smooth and purposeful. When there are disruptions to this part of the brain, involuntary muscle movements and complications may occur.
  • Individuals that suffer from other medical conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy and diabetes may experience RLS.
  • Many women that are in the last months of their pregnancy may be diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome. Experts believe that this could be a direct result of hormonal fluctuations and other chemical changes occurring in the body.
  • There are certain types of medications that seem to cause symptoms of RLS. These include medications used to treat colds, allergies, nausea, depression and many that increase the amount of serotonin within the body.
  • Certain types of substances, such as alcohol, have been linked to the onset of Restless Leg Syndrome.

TREATMENT:
There are many treatments that may prove to be productive for individuals that suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. For some, something as simple as moving the limb that is directly impacted may provide relief. However, treatment may not be as simple for others. If the sleep disorder is found to be directly related to the fact that the sufferer has another medical condition, a doctor will usually attempt to treat the underlying condition in order to alleviate the RLS symptoms. In addition to this, a patient may be encouraged to make lifestyle adjustments and changes such as limiting the amount of caffeine that is consumed, taking nutritional supplements to address deficiencies and following an exercise program.

Medication therapy is another form of treatment for individuals with Restless Leg Syndrome. While it has been established that certain types of prescription drugs are helpful in reducing symptoms, it is essential to understand that there is no known cure for the condition as yet. Medication therapy is simply a means to make a person more comfortable.

Medications that increase the amount of dopamine in the body as well as medications that induce sleep are commonly used. Benzodiazepines are the preferred types of sleeping prescriptions. Opioids, which are often used to alleviate pain and induce relaxation, are also popular options among medical professionals when it comes to treating RLS.

Many professionals will also prescribe anticonvulsant medications because they increase the amount of serotonin in the body and assist in decreasing discomfort associated with sensory disturbances. If you feel as if you suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, you should make an appointment with a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and discuss the most appropriate treatment options for your condition.



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Somnambulism (Sleepwalking)

Somnambulism (Sleepwalking)

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OVERVIEW:
While most people might not recognize the name somnambulism, they most likely have heard of sleepwalking. This condition occurs within the first couple of hours of sleeping and can last up to a half an hour. In most cases, people do not have any memory of sleepwalking or any activities and interactions that have taken place during this time. This disorder appears most commonly during childhood and decreases with age. Nevertheless, adults can experience somnambulism as well. Sleepwalkers can perform complex (and dangerous) actions ranging from cooking and driving to exhibiting violent behavior.

 SYMPTOMS:
While there are quite a few symptoms of somnambulism, not all of them are experienced by all individuals.

Symptoms include:

  • Suddenly sitting up in bed or doing repetitive movements including, chewing, tugging at clothing and rubbing eyes
  • Having a dazed look on the sleepwalker’s face. In most cases, the eyes are open, but are unable to focus
  • Displaying clumsy actions while walking
  • The inability to wake up
  • Talking in sleep
  • Urinating in strange places
  • Not interacting correctly with people

CAUSES:
The most common causes of sleepwalking are:

  • A family history of somnambulism
  • Overall lack of sleep and possibly fatigue before going to bed
  • Sleep conditions like sleep apnea interrupting sleep
  • An underlying Illness or psychological conditions
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Loud sleeping environment
  • Certain medications, such as, beta blockers and hypnotics

Somnambulism (Sleepwalking)While these can be the long term causes of this condition, even having a lack of sleep and some stress in your life can trigger the occasional occurrence. Most physicians won’t diagnose this condition unless there have been repeat episodes. To prepare for a visit to your doctor, keep a sleep journal that records the times and durations that these sleepwalking events occur. For this journal, it will be important that you keep very detailed records. The more information that your physician has, the easier it will be to make a diagnosis and treat you.

TREATMENTS:
Depending on the severity of the somnambulism, no treatment may be required. However, if this does become an increasing problem, scheduled waking may be prescribed. This is where you record the time that the affected individual is seen sleepwalking to pinpoint a pattern. Then, you can rouse the individual 15 minutes before the usual time of the event. This can help reduce the occurrence of the problem. You don’t have to fully wake up the person, instead just gently stir them out of sleep.

You also have some other choices you can make to help counteract this condition. They include:

  • Playing soothing music at bedtime
  • Sticking with normal sleep schedules and taking regular naps when possible
  • Stop drinking fluids an hour before bedtime
  • Avoiding caffeine within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Keeping the room dark and at a comfortable temperature
  • Low doses of medication, such as, benzodiazepines, clonazepam and antidepressants

Counseling can also be an effective treatment that should be considered in extreme cases. This can be especially important if the person experiencing somnambulism is leaving the house or has injured themselves at any point.

If the affected individual is experiencing seizures of any kind during the experience, a medical professional should be consulted right away. An EEG or some other sleep study should be done to determine the root cause. As with any condition, only a qualified doctor will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis.

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