Isn’t it glorious to wake up in the morning feeling well-rested and refreshed? If you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed this luxury, have you considered that you might have a sleep disorder?
Millions of Americans suffer from sleep conditions, and these have more severe consequences than making you feel sluggish. A lack of shuteye can jeopardize your overall health. The following eight disorders can interfere with your well-being, but treatment can help you find relief.
Insomnia is one of the most frequently seen sleep disorders, and it can be acute or chronic. Most everyone suffers temporary sleeplessness occasionally. You might struggle to sleep due to a cold that leaves your nose stuffy or feeling nervous over an upcoming work presentation. Over-the-counter remedies like Nyquil and antihistamine-based sleep aids can provide temporary relief.
However, if your sleeplessness becomes chronic, more severe issues result. An estimated 21% of fatal crashes occur because drivers felt drowsy. That’s nearly as many as those that result from intoxication.
Lack of sleep also increases your cortisol production and decreases your immune response. Excess in this stress hormone can prompt you to overeat and contribute to Type 2 diabetes. Without rest, your body can’t replenish its supply of disease-fighting cytokines, making you more susceptible to germs.
2. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can cause insomnia — but you might not even know that you have woken up. Frequently, your first clue that something is amiss occurs when your partner complains about your snoring. However, if you have insulin regulation issues, that indicates an increased risk of this sleep condition. Fully 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes also stop breathing periodically at night.
This disorder can arise due to an obstruction when your throat muscles relax and collapse. Apnea also occurs when your brain doesn’t send the correct signals to your respiratory system.
3. Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome causes an uncontrollable desire to move your lower limbs. The condition typically increases in severity as the day progresses and gets worse at night. It disrupts your sleep because you are forced to move your legs to get relief, which awakens you.
This disorder can cause extreme daytime fatigue and a lack of concentration. Like other sleep disturbances, it creates potential health risks. Lack of rest revs up your brain’s reward center, making it more challenging to say no to the second slice of pie or hit the gym instead of bingeing on Netflix and chips.
4. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is an ongoing condition that causes overwhelming fatigue that rest doesn’t alleviate. If you have this disorder, you might sleep for 12 hours and still not feel refreshed. Sometimes, symptoms grow so severe that they confine you to bed.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a possible link between chronic fatigue and the Epstein-Barr virus, the evidence remains inconclusive. People with the disorder frequently experience common cold symptoms along with debilitating exhaustion.
Narcolepsy causes excessive daytime sleepiness — so much so, you could find napping at your work desk irresistible. You may also experience loss of muscle tone and hallucinations when attacks occur. This condition isn’t well-understood, but it may result from abnormal signaling in your brain. If you have this disorder, you may face driving restrictions.
Parasomnias refer to a spectrum of disorders that interrupt sleep in various ways. Two types of these conditions exist — REM and non-REM disturbances.
- REM parasomnias: These conditions include nightmares and REM sleep behavior disorder. The latter causes you to act out violent dreams and can potentially endanger your loved ones.
- Non-REM parasomnias: These disorders include night terrors, sleep paralysis and somnambulism or sleepwalking. While you don’t often harm others when you have one of these disturbances, you can put yourself in danger by falling down stairs or tumbling out of bed.
7. Circadian Disorders
Circadian rhythm disorders can arise when your sleep-wake cycle isn’t aligned with your environment and interferes with daily life. Most people follow a 24-hour sleep-wake pattern, but with these conditions, your body is off by several minutes. The cumulative effect can leave you with excessive daytime sleepiness and nighttime restlessness.
You can also develop circadian disorders when you first begin shift work until your body adjusts to the new schedule. To minimize disturbances, try to keep your hours the same — don’t switch between first, second and third shift, if possible.
8. Chronic Pain Conditions
Finally, chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis can make it challenging to get your Zzz’s. You toss and turn in every position, but none seems very comfortable. Unfortunately, the lack can exacerbate your symptoms, creating a vicious cycle. If you fall into this category, talk to your physician. They may be able to prescribe pain medications that also help you feel drowsy.
Seek Help for These Sleep Disorders That Interfere With Your Health
Sleep disorders can interfere with your health by spurring diseases like Type 2 diabetes and exacerbating existing conditions. If you can’t fall asleep despite your best efforts, talk to your doctor.