About Sleep Disorders
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder. It occurs when the muscles of the throat relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway to the lungs. This leads to partial reductions and complete pauses in breathing. Most pauses last between 10 and 30 seconds, but some may last for one minute or longer. When breathing is stopped the oxygen in the blood will drop. The brain responds by alerting the body causing an abrupt arousal to breath. The gasping, chocking or snorting sounds one may experience and/or hear is the effects of this arousal/apnea. This process may happen several times an hour, throughout the night, causing continued interruptions in sleep. These interruptions in sleep cause daytime sleepiness. Sleep Apne has been linked to a number of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to obtain an adequate amount of sleep due to the inability to fall asleep, the inability to remain asleep, or both.
For millions of people insomnia is a symptom caused by a number of medical conditions, diseases or circumstances either environmental or behavioral. Insomnia can be temporary lasting a couple of days. Temporary insomnia can be a result of uncommon noises, jet lag, changes in work schedules, normal routine, acute emotional or physical trauma. However long term insomnia, known as Chronic or Primary Insomnia lasting one month or more, can give rise to emotional distress, daytime fatigue, illness and loss of productivity.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleep-related movement disorder. People feel an uncomfortable sensation often described as burning, tingling, prickling or crawling feeling deep in the legs when lying or sitting still. Sometimes RLS becoming painful and almost always involves an irresistible urge to move the legs. Relief will come with the movement of the legs or walking, in turn cause restless and inadequate sleep.
RLS can occur in both children and adults. In children, RLS often is misdiagnosed as “growing pains.” It can be especially difficult for young children to describe the unpleasant sensations involved with RLS.
Symptoms may vary widely from one day to the next, and they are provoked by long periods of inactivity. Early-onset RLS starts before the age of 45 years, producing symptoms that progress gradually.
What Is Narcolepsy?
A neurological sleep disorder, Narcolepsy causes excessive sleepiness. This excessive sleepiness can become disabling. At times patients experience dreaming will still in an awake state. Narcoleptics can suddenly fall asleep in unusual situations, such as while eating, walking and driving. These episodes are known as “sleep attacks”.
Typically narcolepsy begins appearing in teens and young adults and then persisting for a lifetime. Hypersomnias, are a group of sleep disorders for which daytime sleepiness is a primary symptom. Sleepiness in narcolepsy is not the result of inadequate sleep; people with narcolepsy still experience daytime sleepiness even when they sleep well at night. Research shows instead that the cause of most cases of narcolepsy is the brain’s loss of neurons that contain hypocretin, which is a protein that helps your brain stay alert.
What Are Night Terrors?
The medical professionals of the Mayo Clinic define night/sleep terrors as episodes of fear, flailing and screaming while asleep. The terrors are often paired with sleep walking.
Night terrors may also cause a person to sit up in bed, be herd to awaken, be inconsolable get out of bed, stare wide-eyed and have heavy breathing and a racing pulse.
Although night terror episodes are most common among children between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age, affecting only a small percentage of children, they can be experienced by adults.
While disruptive to sleep, occasional night terrors are not usually cause for concern. Medical experts suggest seeing your doctor should the effective individual begin to experience the night terrors on a more frequent basis, cause continued disruption to their sleep and the sleep of family members or lead to dangerous behavior or injury.
For additional information on these and other sleep disorders including complete medical definitions visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
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