About 25 percent of Americans report occasional sleeping problems, with chronic sleep issues affecting about 10 percent of the population, states the National Institutes of Health (NIH.) A sleep disorder is considered any issue with falling or staying asleep, unusual behavior during sleep, or falling asleep unintentionally or at the wrong time.
The New York Times Health Guide reports there are more than 100 sleeping and waking disorders. However, there are four main categories for these sleep disorders, according the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
Insomnia. Most adults have experienced some level of insomnia in their lifetime. It’s the most common sleep disorder. Also known as sleeplessness and wakefulness, insomnia can affect your daily routine. It can cause you to feel cranky, sleep and forgetful, and it can lead to a significant lack of focus during waking hours. It can be caused by several factors including but not limited to stress, depression, aging, certain medications or even a bedroom setting that’s not relaxing.
Narcolepsy. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS) defines narcolepsy as a “chronic disorder of the central nervous system characterized by the brain’s inability to control sleep-wake cycles.” If you suffer from this sleep disorder, you may experience excessive daytime sleepiness, as well as sudden loss of muscle tone and hallucinations as you’re falling asleep. Some people may experience sleep paralysis, a condition in which you can’t move at all while you’re falling asleep or waking.
Restless Legs Syndrome. Also known as RLS, restless legs syndrome usually occurs at night when you’re trying to fall asleep. RLS also can be responsible for keeping you awake at night, seriously affecting your sleep and your quality of life. About 5 million Americans suffer from moderate to severe RLS, according to the NINDS. Restless legs syndrome can make you feel as if your legs are uncomfortable with a creepy, crawling sensation. Movement can help to relieve the sensations, making it difficult to stay still and relax for sleep.
Sleep apnea. When your breathing stops or pauses while you’re sleeping, it may be sleep apnea. Blocked breathing passages can create issues causing sleep apnea. This has the potential to become a life-threatening sleep disorder. People suffering from sleep apnea may wake up feeling not rested, with a sore throat from snoring, as well as a headache and even chest pain. Another symptom is choking or gasping for breath while sleeping.
Each of the four major sleep disorders can be treated. If you suspect you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, see your doctor. Keep track of the various instances and write the information down so you can tell your doctor exactly what’s been occurring to disrupt your sleep.