Are Your Sleep Disorders
Killing You?

Maybe. Sleep disorders probably won't kill you tomorrow, but they increase your chances of major health problems and accidents that could lead to death.

Insomniac cat with very wide yellow eyes.Chances are that your sleep difficulty falls into one of three types; insomnia, sleep apnea or narcolepsy. But don't assume that just because they're relatively common that they aren't significant health issues. If you're having problems sleeping talk to your doctor or a health provider specializing in sleep medicine.

Narcolepsy

Are you excessively sleepy during the daytime? Have you ever had periods of irresistible sleepiness and sudden muscle weakness at weird times? It might be due to your brain's inability to regulate wake/sleep cycles which is the primary symptom of narcolepsy.

It's not unusual for narcoleptic episodes to occur in unusual situations, even during physical activity or walking. These have been described as "sleep attacks". These types of sleep disorders may also be triggered by surprise or strong emotion.

How is Narcolepsy Treated? Healthcare providers may use behavioral interventions, including regularly scheduled naps, and/or stimulant medications to help minimize the disruptiveness to the patient's life. All of which are so less embarrassing than keeling over fast asleep during your next surprise birthday party.

Insomnia

Can't fall asleep or stay asleep? The inability to maintain or even initiate sleep is known as insomnia. And almost everyone has it at one time or another. According to the US National Institutes of Health almost 20% of Americans (60 million) are suffering from it right now.

It can take many forms including the very annoying early morning awakening type. You fall asleep with no problems but you awaken hours earlier than normal and are unable to go back to sleep. Then you stumble through the day just on the verge of a yawn and in desperate need of a nap.

Whether you wake too early in the morning or you can't fall asleep at night, insomnia can cause you to be functionally impaired during the daytime. Lack of sleep has the same effect on your reflexes as downing a couple of shots of your favorite liquor, the Mythbusters confirmed it. You just can't be at your best when your body is demanding that you find a dark corner and collapse for a few Z's.

What Are the Treatments for Insomnia? Your health care provider will want to determine if there are underlying causes including undetected illness, medication side effects, depression, too much coffee, or even other sleep disorders before diagnosing primary insomnia. They may prescribe sedating antidepressants, hypnotic therapy and/or behavioral techniques to help you sleep.

Go see a health professional about your insomnia, today. Why? Because I'll have a much easier time working up a howl righteous indignation if you crash your car while drunk. Falling asleep at the wheel is just sad.

Sleep Apnea

Is your snoring making your partner miserable and even waking you up sometimes? Snoring can be more than a noisy nuisance. It could be a sign of sleep apnea.

People affected with sleep apnea can make gasping or "snorting" noises. It is at this time that their sleep is interrupted momentarily. Sufferers are often excessively sleepy during the daytime. This is because their sleep is interrupted by the snorting noises, and as such they may not feel the restorative nature of a full night's sleep.

Sleep apnea treatment depends on its cause. Your doctor is not going to issue a snap diagnosis. There could be other medical problems present, such as congestive heart failure or nasal obstruction. The interruptions in your rest may be resolved with the treatment of these conditions.

In some cases gentle air pressure during the night (usually in the form of a nasal continuous positive airway pressure device - also known as CPAP) may also be used effectively to treat sleep apnea. Any obstruction of the airway or interruption of regular breathing during sleep can be a symptom of serious underlying conditions. Losing weight sometimes decreases snoring. Seek treatment for your snoring. Your long-suffering bed partner will thank you and you might even find your neighbors smiling at you more often.

Don't Let Your Sleep Disorders Keep You Up At Night

I hope I've persuaded you to stop ignoring your snoring, insomnia or narcolepsy. Call up your health care provider today and make an appointment to determine the seriousness and treatment of your sleep disorders. You don't want the words "Died for a Nap" written on your headstone, do you?

Sleep Disorders

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