Sleep Disorders


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As teenagers, school, sports, jobs, and other activities often take up a majority of our lives and prevent us from getting an adequate amount of sleep. It is true that a lot of people have irregular sleep patterns, especially as teenagers who sometimes pull all-nighters to finish projects. Even I am tired of hearing that I need to get more sleep, I know I have an irregular sleep schedule. However, with these busy schedules and unnatural sleep patterns, sleep disorders sometimes get overlooked. So how do you know if you might have one?

Three very common sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea, but what exactly are these diseases and how do you know if you have one?

Insomnia Narcolepsy Sleep Apnea
Definition Is technically difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep even when a person has the chance to do so.  Acute insomnia is brief and usually only happens because of life circumstances. Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights a week and lasts at least three months. A sleep disorder that makes you feel overwhelmingly tired and in severe cases can cause uncontrollable sleep attacks (some states even have laws against people with narcolepsy driving without treatment because of how dangerous this disease can be). A common disorder where you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep (these pauses can last for a few seconds to even a few minutes)
Causes Stress, travel, poor sleep habits and even eating too much late in the evening can cause insomnia. Mental health issues such as PTSD, depression and other medical conditions can also cause this disease. Although the exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, research suggests that people with the disease have low levels of the neurotransmitter hypocretin (a chemical that regulates arousal, wakefulness and appetite) Obesity (soft tissue in the mouth and throat can cause the airway to become blocked)

      Enlarged tonsils

      A large overbite

      Tumors or growth in the airway

      Down syndrome and Pierre-Robin syndrome

      Narrow throated people

      Smoking

      Excessive alcohol use

      The use of sedatives can be associated with sleep apnea

Symptoms Difficulty falling or staying asleep, not feeling well-rested, waking up too early, irritability, depression or anxiety, ongoing worries about sleep       Daytime sleepiness

      Uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep

      Cataplexy (a sudden loss of muscle tone that is often triggered by intense emotions such as surprise, laughter, or anger)

The breathing pauses can result in a decreased oxygen content in the blood which briefly awakens sleepers throughout the night

      Loud snoring

      Repeated nighttime awakenings

      Excessive daytime sleepiness

Can lead to cardiovascular disease, accidents, and premature death

Treatment       Relaxation training

      Breathing exercises

      meditation techniques

       guided imagery

       I also know someone who used to listen to audiobooks before he went to sleep and that helped him when he had self-diagnosed insomnia

      There are medicines you can take (both over the counter and prescription) to help treat insomnia, but it is important to consult with your doctor before doing anything rash.

      Support groups

      Cognition-enhancing medication

      Antidepressants

      Selective Serotonin Reptake

      Limit consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

      Exercise

      Practice good sleep  hygiene

      CPAP mask

      Dental appliances

      Surgery

      Lose weight

       Avoid alcohol

      Quit smoking

If you want to track your nightly sleep, a good app that is free and that I have found works well is sleep cycle. Best of luck with your sleep!

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Sleep Disorders