According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, up to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. These people experience daytime drowsiness, nighttime wakefulness and increased risk for health conditions, such as heart disease. But with proper treatment, you can once again enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep.
Three common sleep disorders include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – This condition occurs when your breathing is interrupted – sometimes hundreds of times – while you sleep. As a result, your body may not get enough oxygen. Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder and can significantly increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.A contributing factor to sleep apnea is the shape of a person’s airway. Some people have smaller airways that are more prone to obstruction. The size of your tonsils can also make a difference. Older age and male gender may also increase your risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea.
- Sleepwalking – This behavior occurs during deep sleep and is more common in children than adults. Because the person is in a deep sleep throughout the act, they are often difficult to awaken and likely won’t remember the episode.
- Periodic limb movement disorder – This condition occurs when your limbs – usually the lower extremities – move during sleep. The motion causes sleep disruption, although most people are unaware of their movements.
These conditions are often discovered through symptoms experienced during the daytime hours. Daytime sleepiness is a top symptom but shouldn’t be mistaken for ordinary fatigue. For example, ordinary tired might mean you skip your workout at the end of a long workday. But when you’re overtired, you may fall asleep while watching television or driving home from work. In some cases, you may fall asleep before your head even hits the pillow.
Additional signs you may have a sleep disorder include:
- Waking up tired after a full night of sleep
- Wakefulness during the night
- High blood pressure
If you suspect you may have a sleep disorder, the first step is talking to a primary care physician. He or she knows your health history and can determine if a more specialized examination is necessary. This may mean seeing a sleep medicine specialists or undergoing a sleep study to determine the best way to manage or treat your condition.
Edward-Elmhurst Health provides sleep studies in facilities accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. These facilities include comfortable beds and large televisions in every room to help patients feel comfortable and at ease for their sleep study.
Take our free online SleepAware Risk Assessment to find out if you may have a sleep disorder.