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Sleep Disorders

What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are changes in sleeping patterns or habits. Signs and symptoms of sleep disorders include excessive daytime sleepiness, irregular breathing or increased movement during sleep, difficulty sleeping, and abnormal sleep behaviors. Disturbed sleep includes the inability to fall asleep, the inability to go back to sleep, and frequent waking up during the night.

Sleep is essential. Did you know how much sleep we need changes with age? A preschooler sleeps between 10 to 13 hours each day. But an adult only needs seven to nine hours of sleep. To explore the biology of sleep and learn how to create a restful lifestyle, visit Sleep.org.

Abnormal sleep behavior interferes with natural physical, mental, social and emotional functioning. In fact, studies show that patients who ignore sleep cycle disruptions are at a much higher risk for serious life threatening illness, such as heart disease. Sleep disorders can make you feel tired, fatigued, and irritable, making it difficult for you to concentrate during the day.

Most people have experienced sleep disturbances at some point in their lives. Anyone at any age can develop a sleep disorder. Depending on the cause and the treatment, sleep disturbances can be short-term or long-term.

There are many causes of sleep disturbances—like allergies, depression, pain and even neurological illnesses—can affect your sleep and wake patterns. Below are common sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia: A persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling un-refreshed. Insomnia can be caused from acute and chronic issues.
  • Sleep Apnea: A potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: Circadian rhythms are what regulate our natural sleep and wake patterns.
    • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
    • Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder
    • Non-24 Sleep Wake Disorder
    • Shift Work Disorder
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Disorders – A neurological disorder in which there is a sudden recurrent uncontrollable compulsion to sleep. Excessive daytime sleepiness is also known as narcolepsy.
    • Sleep Related Movement Disorders non-restorative sleep are due to movements that occur during sleep or near the onset of sleep.
    • Periodic Limb Movements
    • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
    • Teeth Grinding
    • Excessive snoring
  • Sleep & Disease – Many conditions can affect also affect your sleep.
    • ADHD
    • Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Asthma
    • COPD and Difficulty Breathing
    • Dementia
    • Epilepsy
    • GERD
    • Multiple Sclerosis

(sources: AASM, National Sleep Foundation, WebMD)

How Are Sleep Disorders Diagnosed?

If your sleep disturbances don’t clear up after several days, it is important find out if there is a serious underlying cause.

Learn more about how your sleep affects your daily life by reviewing the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Questionnaire and Sleep Diary to assist in assessing sleepiness.

At Respiratory Consultants of Georgia, we perform different diagnostic tests to diagnose your exact sleep disturbance. The main test involves a sleep study, or polysomnogram, at our AASM-accredited Sleep Center, where your sleep is monitored in conjunction with your respiratory status by our professional staff and board-certified Sleep Medicine physicians.

After diagnosing the disturbance, Respiratory Consultants of Georgia finds solutions to improve your sleep cycle. Contact us to learn more.