People who suffer from sleep disorders have difficulty falling or staying asleep. These disturbances to a normal sleep pattern can significantly impact physical health, concentration, daytime performance, memory and mood. Lack of sleep, especially when its chronic, can also lead to other serious issues including heart problems, diabetes and even depression.
There are over 100 types of known sleep disorders and symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you suspect you have any of the sleep problems listed below, or any other sleep-related problems, please call 281-341-3000 today to speak with a Houston area sleep disorder specialist.
Lack of Sleep
• Insomnia is when a person has issues falling or staying asleep and does not feel rested. Insomnia is common, most people experience it at least occasionally. Insomnia can be treated but does not have a cure. Sleeping pills can be effective for short-term insomnia but can make conditions worse with long-term insomnia. Behavioral modification and medical therapy are often recommended for the treatment of insomnia.
Common Disturbed Sleep Disorders
Sleep-related breathing disorders:
• Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can be life threatening. When left undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea can lead to strokes, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, impotence and even heart attacks. OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when breathing stops periodically during the night for a few seconds due to blocked airways. Today there are many treatment options for OSA. Lab tests are usually required to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and determine the optimum treatment plan.
• Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is much less common that OSA. It occurs with the brain temporarily fails to signal the muscles responsible for controlling breathing. Central Sleep Apnea is usually caused by other conditions such as Parkinson’s, heart failure and stroke. As with OSA, CSA involves temporary stoppages of breathing while asleep. Lab tests are also required to accurately diagnose CSA. Ordinarily a breathing machine is recommended to help regulate breathing for those with CSA.
• REM sleep behavior disorder is rare and causes disruptions in the brain during the dream phase of sleep (REM). For those suffering from an REM sleep disorder, the pons area of the brainstem sends signals to the thinking and organizing parts of the brain during the REM cycle. The pons also sends signals to the muscles, causing a type of temporary paralysis. These signals can cause a dreaming person to physically act out their dreams while asleep such as sleep walking or eating. This can lead to injuries for not only the sufferers but also to others. Medicine is usually prescribed to treat those with REM sleep behavior disorders.
Sleep-related movement disorders:
• Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological movement disorder which involves uncomfortable or painful sensations in the legs, causing the irresistible desire to move. The cause of RLS is unknown but arises when the nerves that use the neurotransmitter dopamine to control movement become damaged. RLS may occur when a person is asleep or awake and can be treated with self-care steps, lifestyle changes or medications.
Common Excessive Sleep Disorders
• Narcolepsy is a condition that causes people to fall asleep uncontrollably throughout the day. The cause isn’t known but may be genetic or due to abnormal signaling in the brain. These sleep attacks can be dangerous since they occur at any time, even while engaged in an activity such as driving. There is no cure for narcolepsy but stimulants, antidepressants and other medications as well as lifestyle modifications can help manage the symptoms.
• Cataplexy is weakness or paralysis of the body’s muscles. In people with narcolepsy, cataplexy can be triggered by sleepiness or intense emotions and may be coupled with sudden episodes or laughter or anger. When cataplexy occurs, people who are standing are likely to fall over.
What to do if you have a sleep disorder
In order to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for a sleep disorder, a sleep study is usually necessary. With plenty of sleep study labs to choose from, OakBend Medical Center strives to stand apart from the crowd.
OakBend Medical Center offers comprehensive clinical evaluations, diagnostic testing, treatment and long-term management for a wide spectrum of sleep-related disorders. The center prides itself in offering the latest technology designed to evaluate sleep physiology and diagnose sleep disorders. To set up a consultation with a Houston sleep disorder specialist or to schedule a sleep study in our state-of-the-art sleep lab, please call 281-341-3000 today.