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Sleep Disorders

In: English and Literature

Submitted By emilygh2007
Words 1282
Pages 6
Emily Hanlon
ENG 103
8 December 2010

Sleep Disorders

Sleep is an essential part of every ones lives. Without a normal amount of sleep each night can cause accidents, affect your relationships, physical, and mental health. It is averaged that about 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and many do not know the extent of their disorder or how they came about. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. Normal sleep takes place in five stages. Stage one is light sleep where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. In this stage, the eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows. During this stage, many people experience sudden muscle contractions followed by a sensation of falling. In stage two, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves. When a person enters stage three, extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are combined with smaller, faster waves. In stage four, the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. Stages three and four are referred to as deep sleep and it is very difficult to wake someone from them. In deep sleep, there is no eye movement or muscle activity. This is when some children experience bedwetting, sleepwalking or night terrors.
In the REM period, breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when a person is awake. Also, heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and the body losses some of the ability to regulate its temperature. This is the time when most dreams occur and if awoken during REM sleep a person can remember the dreams. Most people experience three to five intervals of REM sleep each night. “The amount of sleep that a person needs to function in a normal manner depends on several factors, including age. Infants sleep most of the day (about 16 hours); teenagers usually need about 9 hours a day; and adults need an average of 7 to 8 hours a day” (State).
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to initiate or maintain sleep. People with insomnia usually suffer with difficulty falling asleep, waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, having unrefreshing sleep, or having at least one daytime problem such as fatigue; sleepiness; problems with mood, concentration; accidents at work or while driving. “Insomnia may be thought of both as a symptom complex and a disorder, with different patients manifesting different dimensions of the problem, or with the same patient experiencing variable severity at different points in time. As a symptom, insomnia reflects the perception of inadequate sleep duration, continuity, or quality, or of difficulty with sleep initiation” (Mitler 24).
Almost one half of adult Americans reported disturbed sleep sometimes or often, but only about 5% of patients who experienced insomnia on a chronic basis reported that they had gone to a doctor specifically looking for help. “The Gallup poll data suggest that patients who suffer from these problems are not sure that they are significant, despite the discomfort and dysfunction they experience. Beyond this, patients are not certain that their doctor has anything to offer has help for their sleep problem, or, particularly in view of the financial constraints impacting on health care delivery, they may feel that their doctor does not have the time to discuss it with them” (Mitler26).
Insomnia varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. Insomnia can be short-term, acute insomnia, or can last a long time, chronic insomnia. It can also come and go, with periods of time when a person has no sleep problems. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two. Symptoms of sleep apnea include, frequent gaps in breathing during sleep, gasping or choking for air to restart breathing, often causing sleeper or partner to wake, loud snoring, and feeling unrefreshed after a night’s sleep and excessive daytime tiredness.
“Almost 18 million Americans have this disorder. It can be mild or severe. The number of sufferers is increasing because obesity is increasing. Being overweight is one major cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)” (Colligan 25). Fatty neck tissue interferes with the workings of the soft tissue at the back of the throat and the windpipe. When these areas get squeezed, the soft tissue collapses. This temporarily blocks airflow from the nose and mouth to the lungs. In central sleep apnea, breathing is interrupted due to an abnormality in the part of the brain that controls breathing. The brain usually wakes up the person to restart normal breathing.
CPAP is a mechanical device worn while sleeping which provides continuous air pressure to keep the airway open, is the most recommended treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP can take some getting used to, but provides effective relief when used correctly. Self help treatments, like losing weight, elevating the head of the bed or sleeping on your side, can also be effective remedies for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Dental appliances and surgery are also treatment options.
Restless legs syndrome is a disorder causing an almost irresistible urge to move the legs, or arms. The impulse to move occurs when resting or lying down and is usually due to uncomfortable or tingly sensations in the legs or affected limbs. Movement reduces the feelings, but only for a little while. “Some possible causes include family history, drinking too much caffeine, pregnancy, low iron levels in the blood, and certain diseases such as arthritis, kidney failure, and rheumatoid arthritis” (Colligan 24). Alternative therapies, lifestyle changes, and even nutritional supplements have been proved helpful for restless leg syndrome sufferers.
Everyone experiences occasional sleep problems, but getting a good night’s sleep is important for feeling refreshed and alert during the day. Lack of sleep might make you feel foggy and unable to concentrate, or just a lesser version of your normal self. Sleep problems will eventually disrupt your work, family and personal relationships.
To determine if you have a sleep disorder, you first have to pay attention to your sleep habits and daily routine. Keeping a record of your sleep patterns will help you and your doctor find the cause of your sleep problems. A sleep diary can highlight lifestyle factors related to sleep disorders, and help your doctor or sleep specialist, if you choose to see one.
A sleep diary should record all sleep-related information such as the time you went to bed and woke up, the quality of your sleep, the types of food or liquids you consumed before you went to bed, your feelings and moods before bed, and if you have taken any drugs or medications, with the amount taken and when you took them.

Works Cited

State, By. "Sleep Disorder Overview - Sleep Disorders - Neurology Channel." Your Neurology Community - Neurology Channel. 27 Sept. 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.neurologychannel.com/sleepdisorders/index.shtml>.

Mitler, Merrill Morris. Sleep Disorders: Diagnosis and Treatment. Totowa, NJ: Humana, 1998. Print.

Colligan, L. H. Sleep Disorders. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2009. Print.

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