January 5, 2013

Top 4 Sleep Disorders in Adults

Filed under: sleep disorders — Tags: , , — @ 1:10 pm

Adult Sleep Disorder #1: Snoring

Yes, it’s actually classified as a sleeping disorder.

Snoring is the most notorious example of a sleep disorder in adults. It affects not only the person suffering from it but also anyone within earshot. It can be especially bad for those sleeping beside the snorer.

This adult sleep disorder is caused by inner parts of the throat flapping against each other as a person breathes in and out.

It can be caused by anything from the natural configuration of your tonsils and other throat structures, to swelling caused by exposure to chemicals or allergens, to abnormal obstructions that should be dealt with medically. A trip to the doctor to determine the cause of snoring is the best first step if it’s causing big problems.

If there is no underlying medical condition, then taking decongestants, losing weight, sleeping on your side, quitting smoking, or using nasal strips to help you breathe through your nose can all reduce or eliminate snoring.


Adult Sleep Disorder #2: Insomnia

This adult sleep disorder can be a true torment to those who experience it – lying awake, and, though exhausted, being unable to fall asleep.

Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions, including anything that causes chronic pain. But if you have a clean bill of health, looking elsewhere for a solution can be fruitful for winning a good night’s sleep again.

If insomnia results from something like a strong but temporary source of stress, then the sleeplessness will probably pass once the stress is gone. However, long-term insomnia stems either from health problems or emotional stress such as anxiety and depression – common triggers of sleeping disorders in adults.

Long term insomnia can be successfully quashed in many cases by changing your behavior or modifying your mental and emotional state. Use meditation, relaxation methods, hobbies, and cognitive behavior therapy to help break the emotional stress patterns that cause insomnia.


Adult Sleep Disorder #3: Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most serious adult sleep disorders, mainly because it can cause real damage. Both aging and being overweight can cause it, though it can also happen in the young and skinny.

Having sleep apnea means that you stop breathing for several seconds. Then, you’ll start breathing again with a convulsive snort or gasp. This repeatedly starves you of oxygen all night, suffocating you over and over. And possibly triggering strokes or heart attacks.

This is a dangerous condition and should be dealt with sooner rather than later, before it does serious harm to you.

Losing weight if overweight and giving up sedatives and liquor before bed are two frequently effective first options. After that, an oral appliance can help prop your mouth open to let you breathe. CPAP devices provide a pressurized air flow to keep your breathing. Surgery is used in extreme cases.


Adult Sleep Disorder #4: Narcolepsy

Among sleeping disorders in adults, narcolepsy is strange. It’s not caused by a physical condition (like snoring when overweight) or from psychological factors (like insomnia when stressed).

Instead, the tendency to fall asleep at random intervals during the day – suffering from a “sleep attack”, as it were – is a genetic, possibly an autoimmune, problem someone gets from your parents. Narcolepsy can cause people to perform automatic actions while not being consciously awake, can cause them to collapse, or can simply cause powerful drowsiness during the day even when well-rested.

Like other sleep disorders in adults, there is no cure for narcolepsy. Instead, it is usually managed by taking two to three brief naps daily, as well as various medications. The best news about narcolepsy is that if you do not have it, you are unlikely to suddenly develop it.

November 29, 2012

Too Much REM Sleep? Is it Possible?

Filed under: rem sleep — Tags: , , — @ 8:55 am

Today, we look at if it’s possible to get too much REM sleep.

It is certainly possible to get too little. Some studies indicate that animals that do not get any REM sleep start to slowly die.

And figuring out if people can get too much REM sleep is complicated by how it is not entirely clear what REM sleep does.

REM sleep occurs most in children and least in the elderly. It declines steadily as people age. It never disappears totally, however. Most REM sleep episodes occur towards morning.

REM sleep may be important to store memories and discard unimportant ones. It likely helps brain development in the young. In adults, it may be linked to creativity and problem solving. The brain becomes active as it works out information. And it can do so without being interrupted by the conscious, waking mind. REM sleep, in short, probably helps the brain run more smoothly and more effectively.


Problems with Too Much REM Sleep

The main problem that too much REM sleep would cause in most people would be the possibility of waking up more often and ending up not as rested. Since REM sleep is quite similar in a lot of ways to waking brain activity, and can cause awakening by prompting the muscles to flex or jerk, excessive REM sleep can leave you feeling tired and depressed.

Some people have REM sleep disorders that cause them to move with their dreams. Usually the body is paralyzed so your muscles don’t actually thrash about as you dream about swimming. Or dancing. Or running. Or anything.

If this paralysis stops working properly, a person will actually move in sync with dream activities, possibly waking themselves, hurting themselves by hitting against walls or falling out of bed, or accidentally striking someone sleeping beside them. There is no cure for this kind of disorder. Most just have to wait for it to pass, and pad the area around their beds to prevent injury.


The Results of Too Much REM Sleep

Too much REM sleep might cause you to wake up several times a night, leading to disrupted rest and feelings of tiredness or lack of energy the next day.

If you get too much sleep, the first thing you’ll notice is that you’ll have a headache for much of the day. It’s especially bad in the morning after you get up. This is because the neurotransmitters in your brain are thrown out of balance by oversleeping.

Getting too much sleep in general is also linked to higher chances of heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.

It’s not certain if sleeping too much causes these problems or if having an illness developing at a low level causes excessive sleep. If you find yourself sleeping more than normal, you might want to get a physical exam from a qualified physician.