Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from one sleep disorder or another. Sleep disorders are characterized by any conditions that prevent a person from getting restful sleep. The dangerous part isn’t the actual sleep loss, but the dysfunction it causes during waking hours when we are driving, operating machinery and so forth. Sleep disorders also can lead to serious stress and other health consequences.
Listed below are some of the most common sleep disorders:
Insomnia is, by far, the most common sleep disorder, affecting nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults at least one night each week. Common symptoms of insomnia include difficulty getting to sleep and waking before it is time to get up. There are many factors that can contribute to insomnia, including stress and underlying medical conditions. Typical treatments include sleeping pills and behaviorial therapy.
Sleep apnea is the second most common sleep disorder and affects approximately 20 million Americans. This disorder causes people to stop breathing abruptly while they are asleep. This causes loud, labored snoring and stressful sleep interruptions frequently throughout the night.
Narcolepsy is one of the most dangerous sleep disorders. It’s rare, affecting only roughly 100,000 Americans. The condition causes a dysfunction in the brain mechanisms that manage sleeping and waking—causing a person to instantly fall asleep while talking, walking, driving, climbing stairs or working. Most narcoleptics are extremely fatigued during the daytime hours and can also suffer from hallucinations, muscle deterioration, sleep paralysis, and fainting.
Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder that mainly afflicts children in deep sleep where the brain continues to sleep but the body to act as though it is awake for short periods of time. Only 10 percent of children are affected by sleepwalking and most outgrow it during their teenage years. Sleepwalking is often associated with fever, sickness, medication, or stress, and sleepwalkers almost never remember what they do or say during an episode.