Sleepiness is commonly experienced by anyone who is sleep-deprived. Severe sleep deprivation may reflect a serious medical problem, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy or periodic limb movements. Often, automobile accidents, work problems, family difficulties and social embarrassment are side effects. Evaluation at the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers will help confirm a diagnosis and establish a treatment program. The following are the most common adult sleep disorders.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep-disordered breathing, commonly known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects 1 to 5 percent of the population, particularly the middle-aged and geriatric, and results in recurrent gaps in breathing. Sleep apnea can cause a reduction in oxygen supply to the body and brain, a strain on the heart and lungs, and can profoundly disturb your sleep. Long-term untreated sleep apnea can lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Narcolepsy and its variants, neurologic disorders that result in disabling “sleep attacks” (excessive daytime sleepiness), can be clearly identified through a sleep study. While there is no cure for narcolepsy, it can be managed through lifestyle changes, medication and good sleep hygiene.
Periodic Limb Movements (PLMS)
Periodic limb movements while you sleep (PLMS) occur when your leg muscles tighten and flex while you are still. PLMS consists of simple, repetitive uncontrollable muscle movements. They usually do not keep you from falling asleep. Instead, they severely disrupt your sleep during the night. Most people do not know they suffer from this condition until they have a sleep study done.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Chronic sleep deprivation can be caused by underlying disorders of the sleep/wake cycle (number of hours asleep vs. number of hours awake) or an emotional disorder. Diagnosis and treatment of this type of sleep disorder include various behavioral and psychological techniques.
Virtually everyone has an occasional bad night of sleep. Short-term stress, jet lag, medical illness or emotional problems can produce a short period of disturbed sleep. Unfortunately, many people suffer from chronic insomnia that seems to have no obvious cause. Emotional problems, particularly depression, may also be present with insomnia.
Frequently, continued poor sleep reflects an expectation or "worry" about not being able to sleep, which is difficult to overcome. Poor sleep habits, misue of medications, irregular work schedules or specific environmental distrubances, persistent emotional difficulties, disturbed breathing patterns (sleep apnea) and repeated muslce spasm (sleep myoclonus), often in the legs, can also cause insomnia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one form of treatment that is highly successful in treating insomnia. The Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers offer CBT services by a licensed neuropsychologist.
Sleepwalking, bedwetting, frequent nightmares, night terrors and nocturnal seizures are all “events of sleep” that are upsetting, disruptive and sometimes dangerous. More commonly, such events are encountered by children and go away without treatment. Nevertheless, persistent events, called parasomnias, can be a serious family problem. Another category of parasomnias are REM (rapid eye movement) Behavior Disorders, characterized by a lack of the paralysis that normally occurs during REM sleep. This may cause the sleeper to “act out,” experience atypical movements, or exhibit aggressive behavior during the REM stages of sleep.