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The top 7 sleep disorders

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Sleep is an essential biological process for life. However, it is also a facet of everyday life that lends itself to developing specific disorders.

There are different sleep disorders that prevent us from having a restful sleep and that affect our day to day with various symptoms that were already mentioned in another article previously.

  • Related article: "The 7 psychological signs that show that you should sleep more".

Sleep disorders: what are they?

As their name indicates, sleep disorders are psychological disorders that negatively affect people's quality of life and that They manifest themselves when sleeping or trying to sleep.

This means that the fact of suffering one of these problems for a prolonged period can give way to other health complications arising from this, especially in the case of sleep disorders that prevent sleep well. It should not be forgotten that not getting enough sleep, in the long run, leads to significant cognitive wear and tear, and increases the risk of suffering physical and mental pathologies.

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Types of sleep disorders

Here you will find a summary of the sleep disorders, with its main symptoms and distinctive characteristics.

1. Insomnia

Among the most common disorders we find insomnia, which affects 25% of the population. It can be due to certain underlying disorders such as depression or anxiety. Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Each person needs certain hours to feel rested, although the normal is between 7 and 9 hours.

People with insomnia tend to feel drowsy throughout the day, affecting their daily life, and at night it will be difficult for them to fall asleep despite the fatigue. Inside insomnia; the so-called effect of "restless legs”Consists of a tingling in the legs that forces the patient to move them. It occurs at night and makes sleeping difficult.

  • More information and advice on insomnia at: "Fight insomnia: 10 solutions to sleep better"

2. Sleep apnea

It is a common disorder in which the person suffering from it makes a pause in breathing during sleep. It is usually short-lived and the person returns to normal breathing with a loud snore. It is generally a chronic disorder that disturbs sleep as it occurs in the REM phase and goes to a light sleep causing the person not to rest properly.

The first to notice this symptom is usually a relative since the person does not realize this. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which is due to an obstruction in the airways that prevent air from passing. It is usually more common in overweight people.

If it is not treated correctly, there can be serious consequences because during periods of anoxia (shortness of breath in the brain), neurons associated with sleep can be damaged. And increase the chance of having a heart attack.

Other less common disorders include narcolepsy and the cataplexy.

3. Narcolepsy

This neurological disease is due to a brain abnormality that alters the neural mechanisms of sleep; It consists of sudden episodes of sleep in waking hours, being able to fall asleep for 2-5 minutes anywhere and wake up feeling clear. It can happen while driving, talking, or just walking. These people lack slow wave sleep and go straight to the REM phase. Narcolepsy can also occur in dogs.

Within this disease we find some variants such as cataplexy: It is a total paralysis that occurs during wakefulness. The person suffers from muscle weakness and can be completely paralyzed and fall to the ground. What happens is that the REM sleep phenomenon occurs at an inappropriate time. The person is conscious during these crises.

  • Hypnagogic hallucinations: Vivid daydreams that occur before the person falls asleep. They are dreams while awake.

  • Sleep paralysis: It usually occurs just before sleep or when waking up in the morning but at a time when it does not represent a danger to the person.

  • More information on sleep paralysis at: "Sleep paralysis: definition, symptoms and causes".

4. Behavioral disorders associated with REM sleep

In REM sleep we are bodily paralyzed. If it weren't for that paralysis, we would represent our dreams.

In REM sleep-associated disorder (which is a neurodegenerative disease), patients represent your dreams, getting up and moving without being aware of it. The patient may be injured.

4. Disorders associated with slow wave sleep

During this phase, specifically in phase number 4 of sleep (one of the deepest), some people experience maladaptive behaviors; how can they be somnambulism, nocturnal enuresis (wetting the bed) and night terrors. In the case of enuresis, it is a type of alteration that occurs very frequently in boys and girls.

5. sleepwalking

In children it is usually due to fatigue, lack of sleep or anxiety; in adults it can be due to mental disorders, alcohol among others. These people can get up and walk normally, perform actions... these episodes are usually very brief and if they are not awakened they will go back to sleep but can stay asleep anywhere different.

Within sleepwalking is the eating disorder associated with sleep; The person eats while asleep. To prevent this, they usually keep food under lock and key.

  • To learn more about sonabulism, we recommend the article "Sleepwalking: the king of sleep disorders".

6. Night terrors

Night terrors are most common in children between the ages of 3 and 7. The child may be sweating or breathing heavily, in shock, and very disoriented.

In short, you need a restful sleep to be 100% in our day to day. That is why, in the event that you suffer some of the symptoms described, consult your doctor and he will be able to diagnose you properly and take action if necessary. Many of these disorders have highly effective treatments.

  • Learn more about night terrors: "Night terrors: panic during sleep".

Bibliographic references:

  • Mathias, J. L.; Alvaro, P. K. (2012). Prevalence of sleep disturbances, disorders, and problems following traumatic brain injury: A meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine. 13 (7): pp. 898 - 905.
  • Mai E, Buysse DJ (1 January 2008). "Insomnia: Prevalence, Impact, Pathogenesis, Differential Diagnosis, and Evaluation". Sleep Medicine Clinics. 3 (2): pp. 167 - 174.
  • Meltzer, Lisa J.; Johnson, Courtney; Crosette, Jonathan; Ramos, Mark; Mindell, Jodi A. (2010). Prevalence of Diagnosed Sleep Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care Practices. Pediatrics. 125 (6): e1410-e1418.
  • Roepke, S. K., & Ancoli-Israel, S. (2010). Sleep disorders in the elderly. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 131: pp. 302 - 310.
  • Thorpy, M.J. (2012). Classification of sleep disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 9 (4): pp. 687 - 701.

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