Common sleep disorders
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and affects almost everyone during their lifetime. It is the inability to initiate or maintain sleep. Insomnia is often a symptom of another problem and can be improved by adopting good sleep habits and with medications.
If insomnia persists for more than 3 weeks, specialist medical attention is required
Correct identification and treatment of insomnia often involves keeping a sleep diary, actigraphy and polysomnography.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring is also very common, but is often associated with the serious condition Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is the periodic stoppage of breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea (and their partners) often complain of:
Choking episodes during sleep
Sleepiness during the day (despite seemingly adequate sleep duration)
In addition to poor quality of life and fatigue, OSA may cause serious health problems such as hypertension, obesity, heart failure, coronary artery disease and stroke.
Obstructive sleep apnea is affects roughly 1 in every 4 men and 1 in every 10 women
Asking y our patient about the symptoms of sleep apnea can save their life.
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Excessive sleep during the day is common and can be disruptive to work and wellbeing. It may be associated with irritability, poor judgement headaches and lack of concentration, as well as memory impairment and depression.
The most common causes of excessive daytime sleepiness include:
Delayed or advanced sleep phase disorder (circardian rhythm disorder)
Obstructive sleep apnea (patient may be unaware of shallow interrupted sleep)
Inefficient sleep (despite adequate sleep duration)
The characteristic feature of narcolepsy is the occurrence of episodes of irresistible sleep during the day. Other features include cataplexy (loss of muscle tone in body with intense emotions), sleep paralysis (temporary inability to move immediately after awakening) and hallucinations around the time of entering into sleep or awakening.
Narcolepsy is a serious but treatable medical condition that is often misdiagnosed.
In addition to polysomnography, a diagnosis of narcolepsy may require a specific test called the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) also available at Sleep Care Clinic.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Patients with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) have a strong and irresistible urge to move the legs, together with uncomfortable sensations that are relieved only by moving.
RLS is more common in women and can be disruptive to sleep for patients and their partners.
RLS affects all ages
RLS often runs in families
RLS is sometimes secondary to medical disorders
Anemia and low iron levels frequently contribute to RLS
RLS is very common in dialysis patients
RLS and associated periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMD) are successfully diagnosed by a sleep study (polysomnography) and several medical treatments are available this condition.
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