Additional reporting by Senior Writer Laura Geggel. Original article on Live Science. Live Science. Sleep apnea is a common and treatable sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep, awakening you frequently. Restless legs syndrome RLS is a sleep disorder that causes an almost irresistible urge to move your legs or arms at night. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness.
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It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls sleeping and waking. We all have an internal biological clock that regulates our hour sleep-wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythms. Light is the primary cue that influences circadian rhythms. At night, when there is less light, your brain triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy.
When your circadian rhythms are disrupted or thrown off, you may feel groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times. Shift work sleep disorder occurs when your work schedule and your biological clock are out of sync.
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In our hour society, many people have to work night shifts, early morning shifts, or rotating shifts. These schedules force you to work when your body is telling you to go to sleep, and sleep when your body is signaling you to wake. While some people adjust better than others to the demands of shift work, most shift workers get less quality sleep than their daytime counterparts. As a result of sleep deprivation, you may struggle with sleepiness and mental lethargy on the job.
This cuts into your productivity and puts you at risk of injury.
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Delayed sleep phase disorder is a condition where your biological clock is significantly delayed. As a result, you go to sleep and wake up much later than other people. This is more than just a preference for staying up late or being a night owl, but rather a disorder that makes it difficult for you to keep normal hours—to make it to morning classes, get the kids to school on time, or keep a 9-to-5 job.
Jet lag is a temporary disruption in circadian rhythms that occurs when you travel across time zones. Symptoms include daytime sleepiness, fatigue, headaches, stomach problems, and insomnia. Symptoms are more pronounced the longer the flight and flying east tends to cause worse jet lag than flying west. In general, it usually takes one day per time zone crossed to adjust to the local time. So, if you flew from Los Angeles to New York, crossing three time zones, your jet lag should be gone within three days.
Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old
The first step to overcoming a sleep disorder or problem is identifying and carefully tracking your symptoms and sleep patterns. A sleep diary can pinpoint day and nighttime habits that may contribute to your problems at night. RLS can be so bad, it is mistaken for insomnia. Moving your legs lessens RLS symptoms. These steps may also be enough to relieve symptoms of RLS:. If these steps are not enough, several types of medication are useful for treating the symptoms of restless legs syndrome or for inducing deep sleep.
They include:. Because these drugs have not been compared thoroughly in studies, the best approach is to start with one and see how it works. In severe cases, a combination of drugs may work best. Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway collapses for at least 10 seconds during sleep -- and does so up to hundreds of times each night. Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of a blockage in the airway.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. Snoring and gasping for air as the airway reopens occur often with sleep apnea.
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Because your breathing is interrupted, so is your sleep, leading to sleepiness during school, work, or other activities. But falling asleep in traffic or at work is obviously less than ideal. Sleep apnea can cause other problems, too: wide swings in heart rate as well as a decrease in oxygen levels.
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It is associated with and the possible cause of other medical conditions such as:. In addition to treatments for sleep apnea, it is important to manage other conditions, such as high blood pressure, that often exist along with it. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes disabling daytime sleepiness and other symptoms. Narcolepsy is related to the dreaming period of sleep called REM rapid eye movement sleep. With narcolepsy, though, REM periods can occur throughout the day. Another daytime hallmark of narcolepsy is sudden loss of muscle control, or cataplexy.
This can be a slight feeling of weakness or total body collapse. It can last from seconds up to a minute. It is often triggered by emotions or fatigue. During sleep, narcolepsy may cause insomnia, vivid and often frightening dreams or hallucinations, and temporary paralysis. Hallucinations and paralysis may both occur during the process of falling asleep or waking up.
If you have narcolepsy, you may experience depression or other symptoms such as poor concentration, attention, or memory. These may be a result of intense fatigue and lack of energy resulting from good-quality sleep and daytime sleepiness.
What causes narcolepsy
Two or three naps during the day may improve daytime sleepiness from narcolepsy. A good diet and regular exercise may improve narcolepsy symptoms. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness that persist are symptoms of depression.