Sleep apnea is a general term for breathing problems that occur during sleep. People with sleep apnea stop breathing throughout the night. This is due to the muscles that control the upper airway relax during sleep. If they relax too much, the upper airway becomes narrow and some people begin to snore. If the airway becomes too narrow, this may cause breathing difficulties. Sometimes, the airway becomes completely blocked and the person temporarily stops breathing, experiencing an “obstructive apnea”. This can last for ten seconds or more. It may happen frequently—even several hundred times a night.
If you have this condition, every time an apnea occurs, you struggle to breathe, placing stress on your brain and heart. Night after night, your sleep is disrupted. You experience the kind of tiredness that affects the quality of your life, work and relationships. Your partner may hear the telltale signs of sleep apnea while you sleep—snoring followed by a period of silence, and then, perhaps, a loud snort or a gasp as you resume breathing.
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience fleeting urges to sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer. In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), three other major symptoms frequently characterize narcolepsy: cataplexy, or the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone; vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening; and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep. Narcolepsy is not definitively diagnosed in most patients until 10 to 15 years after the first symptoms appear. The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown. It is likely that narcolepsy involves multiple factors interacting to cause neurological dysfunction and sleep disturbances.
Insomnia is a condition in which you have trouble falling or staying asleep. Some people with insomnia may fall asleep easily but wake up too soon. Other people may have the opposite problem, or they have trouble with both falling asleep and staying asleep. The end result is poor–quality sleep that doesn’t leave you feeling refreshed when you wake up.
Types Of Insomnia
Although there are several different degrees of insomnia, about three types of insomnia have been clearly identified: transient, acute, and chronic.
Transient insomnia lasts from days to weeks. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. Its consequences – sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance – are similar to those of sleep deprivation.
Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of between three weeks to six months.
Chronic insomnia lasts for years at a time. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include sleepiness, muscular fatigue, hallucinations, and/or mental fatigue; but people with chronic insomnia often show increased alertness. Some people that live with this disorder see things as though they were happening in slow motion, whereas moving objects seem to blend together. It can also cause double vision in some people.
There are many factors that can influence insomnia, including the following:
Psychoactive Drugs, stimulants, caffeine, herbal medications, hormone changes, mental disorders, shift work, jet lag, abuse of over-the counter or prescription sleep aids and poor sleep hygiene.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition that is characterized by the irresistible urge to move the legs. RLS can also cause difficulty in falling or staying asleep which can be one of the chief complaints of the syndrome. A substantial number of people who have RLS also have periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). These are jerks that occur every 20 to 30 seconds on and off throughout the night. This can cause partial awakenings that disrupt sleep. Sleep deprivation can seriously impact your work, relationships, and health.