Sleep Disorders

Treatments for better sleep

Millions of people are plagued by sleeping problems, including an inability to fall asleep, difficulty staying asleep and feeling tired even though they got a full night's sleep. These are the primary warning signs of major sleep disorders.

Getting better sleep helps you be more productive, reduces stress and, as increasing numbers of studies are showing, is very important to your overall health. It's estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the population suffers from chronic sleep problems, which means these problems could have a major economic and social impact.

Major sleeping disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy. There is also a related set of conditions known as parasomnias, which are characterized by behavioral disturbances while falling asleep and during sleep.

The Major Sleep Disorders

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. Its key symptom is an inability to fall asleep despite being tired, or an inability to stay asleep even though you haven't yet had a sufficient night's rest.

If your breathing is interrupted during sleep, you have sleep apnea. This is perhaps the most medically serious sleep disorder, as it puts you at elevated risk for cardiac arrest (especially if you have other aggravating factors, such as high blood pressure).

Extreme fatigue during the day, even after getting a full night's sleep, may be a sign of narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy are prone to involuntarily nodding off during the day, so activities like driving or operating heavy machinery can be extremely dangerous for narcoleptics.

Parasomnia Sleep Problems

A parasomnia is a relatively minor disturbance that occurs when you're falling asleep or passing between the various stages of sleep. Sleepwalking, night terrors and bruxism (grinding your teeth) are the major parasomnias. Restless legs syndrome, a condition marked by tingling or prickling sensations in the legs (usually triggering a feeling of needing to move them), is the subject of much debate in the medical community. Some clinicians, however, consider it a parasomnia.

If you are constantly fatigued, have trouble sleeping or have an ongoing parasomnia, talk to your physician. There are treatments available which can help you enjoy better sleep, productivity and overall health.

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