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Top 4 Sleep Disorders in Adults

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.

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-BS Pharm, PharmD, RPh

Dr. Paul Zickler is a graduate of the University of Wester Ontario in 1972. After graduating from the faculty of medicine, Dr. Zickler practiced as an Emergency Physician for 18 years. He has then operated ambulatory medical and travel clinics for 12 years. Dr. Zickler has become an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, a Director of Professional Programs for the Justice Institute of British Columbia (paramedic academy), a principal investigator for Phase 2 and 3 studies researching vaccines, and a founding member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. Dr. Zickler is passionate about combining western prescription medicine and natural medicines.

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