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7 Common Sleep Disorders You Should Know About

Most people know of only one sleep disorder - insomnia, or lack of adequate sleep. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, exacerbated by our stressful and hectic lifestyles. Various studies show that about 10-30% of the adult population worldwide suffers from insomnia. But, insomnia is not the only sleep disorder plaguing the human race. You may, thanks to movies and TV shows, be familiar with sleep walking. You may also know of sleep apnea, as it recently became the cause of the Indian musician Bappi Lahri’s untimely demise. But you may not know of the other fairly common sleep disorders.

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are disruptions in the normal sleeping patterns. They can be classified in two ways:

  1. Primary vs Secondary Sleep Disorders – This classification takes into account whether the sleep disorder exists by itself or is caused by another illness/medication/situation.
    • Primary sleep disorders are those that exist by themselves, i.e. a person has problems with only their sleep.
    • Sometimes other mental/medical conditions like depression or certain medications can impact the quality and quantity of sleep. This is known as secondary sleep disorders.
  2. Dyssomnia and Parasomnia –
    • Dyssomnias are characterised by disruption in the amount, quality and timing of sleep.
    • Parasomnia has behavioural symptoms caused by partial arousal in sleep which can happen before sleep, during sleep or after sleep.

 Common Sleep Disorders

  1. Shift work sleep disorder (SWD/SWSD) – Worldwide 10% of the population faces SWD (2020). This disorder comes under circadian rhythm sleep disorder, a type of dyssomnia. This disorder is characterised by sleep problems caused by people working in non-traditional work times (before 9 am and after 5 pm). The symptoms of this disorder are difficulty sleeping, excessive sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, headaches and lethargy.
  2. REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder – There are about 40-100 million patients worldwide who face this issue and it often  goes undiagnosed. It is a type of Parasomnia. As the name suggests this disorder occurs during REM sleep and is characterised by behavioural manifestations of dreams (often unpleasant) by using hands, legs (kicking, punching, and jumping from the bed) or verbal sounds (laughing, crying and talking/shouting). The main concern with this disorder is injury to self or to the person you are sleeping next to.
  3. Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH) - This disorder results in excessive daytime sleepiness without any known medical cause. Its symptoms include excessive sleep at night, long naps, feeling of unrefreshing sleep, and difficulty in waking up (sleep drunkenness or pronounced sleep inertia). Other symptoms include fatigue, cognitive symptoms, and autonomic symptoms.
  4. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) - 5 to 10 percent of adults and 2 to 4 percent of children in the United States suffer from RLS. It is a neurological disorder in which a person has an uncontrollable need to move their legs. People often describe the feeling of crawling, pulling, or itching in both legs which happens while sitting/lying down which gets worse at night. The disorder affects the quality and quantity of sleep which can cause mood disorders, health problems and insomnia.
  5. Sleep Paralysis - This is a REM sleep disorder which can happen just after falling asleep, during sleep or waking up in the morning. The person is unable to move due to REM Sleep atonia and experiences visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations (hypnagogic hallucination). These experiences can occur in the form of
  • intruder - where one feels like someone is in the room
  • incubus - where one feels like they are about to die (e.g. pressure on chest).
  1. vestibular-motor - sensations such as spinning or floating or an outer body experience.

What should you do if you feel you have a sleep disorder?

All these disorders though common should be diagnosed and treated properly by medical and mental health professionals. These disorders can cause many health related problems which can be life threatening and can also cause other psychological disorders. Timely detection and proper treatment is the key to overcoming  these disorders. The prevention of many of these disorders can be done such as maintaining sleep hygiene, having a proper diet, exercise regimen, avoiding napping during the day and so on. Say goodbye to sleep disorders by choosing memory foam pillow and mattresses online from SleepX.

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