5 Sleep Disorders You Should Know Aside from Insomnia

The devil is in the details. No, we’re not talking about evil spirits preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. We’re telling you instead to pay attention to the details making up your less-than-satisfactory nocturnal experience. 

Could it be that you’re not only suffering from insomnia? Your difficulty to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night is characteristic of the sleep disorder. However, it may also be the result of something else.

In this article, you’ll learn about 5 other sleep disorders, their symptoms/causes, and their treatments. It’s time you deal with the root cause or help someone pinpoint what’s causing their nightly woes.

Type of Sleep Disorders You Should Know Aside from Insomnia

1. Hypersomnias

Do you feel sleepy throughout the day? Excessive daytime drowsiness may be a sign you have hypersomnia, and so is excessive time spent on sleeping. You can fall asleep anytime, including while at work or while driving. Some sufferers also experience a lack of energy or trouble thinking clearly.

There are several manifestations of hypersomnia. Check out the conditions below to determine what’s been plaguing you:

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by sudden sleep attacks. Your brain cannot regulate your sleep-wake cycles properly, making you fall asleep intermittently during the day. Such episodes occur even if you’ve slept normally the previous night. About 70% of people with narcolepsy experience cataplexy, or the loss of muscle control manifesting in a slack jaw or weakened limbs. Fewer individuals are also prone to sleep paralysis and hallucinations. 

It may take some time for some of the affected to be diagnosed. But symptoms typically appear during childhood or adolescence. There is no cure for narcolepsy. But a combination of medications and behavioral changes after diagnosis can help people lead normal, productive lives.

Insufficient Sleep Syndrome

Also called sleep deprivation, among many other names, insufficient sleep syndrome (ISS) refers to regularly sleeping for fewer than 6 hours each night. The most common causes of ISS is behavioral in nature. This includes shift work, a late-night movie session or series marathon, and overuse of electronic devices.

If you’re suffering from sleep loss, you’re likely to have emotional, cognitive, and physical problems. You’re at risk for heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure. And you may also be a candidate for diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. 

If you’re sure ISS is the problem, you simply have to sleep for a few hours longer each night. This should deal with the symptoms. If it persists, consult a sleep specialist.

Long Sleeper

People who sleep from 10 to 12 hours per night may be categorized as long sleepers. Their sleep quality is similar to normal sleepers. It just takes them longer to get there. It’s quite tricky to deal with this case. Being awake for only a few hours can interfere with a person’s personal and social relationships. But taking stimulants to stay awake longer can affect their sleep quality.

Type of Sleed Disorder

2. Parasomnias

Parasomnias comprise a group of sleep disorders in which abnormal things happen to people during sleep. You may have found some of them depicted in pop culture, like nightmares, sleepwalking, sleep hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.

Read on to find out more about parasomnias:

Sleepwalking

Formally called somnambulism, sleepwalking involves doing unwanted and sometimes complex actions while sleeping. This can range from doing routine actions such as eating to getting in the car and drive. It’s difficult to awaken a person who’s sleepwalking because of the deep sleep state they’re in. Some people return to bed without ever waking up. More often than not, they don’t remember what happened.

Your chance of having it is linked to family and genetics. But it rarely begins in your adult life. Sleepwalking peaks between ages 8 and 12 among children. Sleepwalking in both children and adult sufferers may be caused by the following: 

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
  • Migraine headaches
  • Head injury
  • Encephalitis (brain swelling)
  • Stroke
  • The premenstrual period
  • Bloated stomach
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Other sleep-related disorders or events
  • Travel
  • Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings
  • Some medications
  • Alcohol use and abuse
  • Noise or light
  • Fevers in children

Children with this disorder will only need to be watched closely by their parents. Adults, however, should see a sleep specialist determine treatment or if it’s a symptom of another disorder.

Sleep Paralysis

An episode would render you unable to move or talk upon falling asleep or waking up. You’re aware of your surroundings but find it hard to breathe, as if your chest is being crushed; have a sense that someone or something is in the room with you, or feel frightened.

Indeed, sleep paralysis has been discussed in culture in relation to the supernatural. But this event is actually caused by parts of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep happening while you’re awake. It should occur only once, twice, or occasionally. If what you’re experiencing is severe, it’s time to talk to your physician about it.

Exploding Head Syndrome

Contrary to what its name suggests, exploding head syndrome isn’t painful. In this case, you hear a loud noise before sleeping or waking up. The sound can be similar to a bomb exploding, fireworks, or a crash. Sometimes, a person also feels a muscle twitch or see a flash of light.

While there is little known about this disorder, it is hypothesized to be caused by stress or anxiety, minor seizures in the brain’s temporal lobes, and sudden shifts inside the middle ear.

3. Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder

This class of sleep disorder involves difficulty in respiration during sleep. The most common example is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which has several variations.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

This is described as a potentially serious disorder because your breathing stops involuntarily and repeatedly while you slumber. It occurs when the airway space found in your throat becomes blocked or too narrow. It can happen in children and adults. Infants may also experience apnea, but they are obstructive, central, or mixed.

Snoring often gives away this disorder. Other symptoms include edema (leg swelling), hyperactivity in children, poor performance at work, and decreased libido. Possible treatments for those who have OSA are nasal decongestants, therapies like continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP therapy, and surgery.

Central Sleep Apnea

A less common type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is the result of your brain’s inability to send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Sleeping at a high altitude or conditions such as heart failure may cause this disorder. Adults older than age 65 are more likely to develop central sleep apnea. It is also more common among males.

To treat central sleep apnea, your physician may advise doing CPAP. If that doesn’t effectively treat it, you can try adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP). Other options are addressing existing conditions, supplemental oxygen, medications, and surgery.

Sleep-Related Groaning

Moaning and groaning as you doze off is formally called catathrenia, or nocturnal groaning. During a groaning episode, your breathing becomes unusually slow. Then, you produce a moaning sound during exhalation that can last from a few moments to more than 40 seconds.

While it may not affect your sleep quality, it may bother your bed partner. You may also awaken because of oxygen desaturation. Underlying conditions can also be the real culprit. All of these possibilities should drive you to consult a doctor.

The primary form of treatment for catathrenia is CPAP. Surgery can also be performed depending on your case.

catathrenia

4. Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Those affected by circadian rhythm disorders do not follow normal sleep times at night. Their body is out of synchronicity with their biological clock.

Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase

People with this condition sleep late at night, say around 4 a.m. Then they sleep in during the daytime, usually waking up in the afternoon. They often feel groggy when they get up earlier. But their energy builds up as the day progresses and bedtime falls again in the wee hours. 

An imbalance in melatonin, a hormone that regulates our internal clocks, maybe causing the delayed sleep phase disorder among individuals. Taking it before you sleep will help, and so will the use of bright light therapy.

Find more information in our article about delayed sleep-wake phase syndrome.

Advanced Sleep-Wake Phase

Advanced sleep phase disorder, on the other hand, causes people to clock out several hours before bedtime. They also get up ahead of normal sleepers. Falling asleep between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. can have unwanted effects on your day, such as afternoon drowsiness. 

Adjustment in one’s lifestyle can help them realign their body clock with normal sleep times. Your sleep specialist may recommend bright light therapy or chronotherapy.

Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm

Light resets the body clock to its 24-hour cycle. This environmental signal is received by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus. If the light fails to reach the SCN, such as in total blindness, the body reset mechanism experiences a delay. So if it resets within a 24.5-hour cycle, the person will sleep 30 minutes longer during the day.

The shift in the sleeping pattern will continue until the body reaches again the normal cycle. However, people who have non-24-hour sleep-wake rhythm only enjoy a period of normal sleep. Then, the shifting patterns start again. Majority of blind people may be affected by this sleep disorder.

Blind adults can be treated with timed melatonin. For sighted people, light therapy is suggested.

5. Sleep Movement Disorders

Cases of abnormal movements before or during sleep are classified as sleep movement disorders. They interrupt your sleep, keep you awake, or prevent you from getting a restful slumber. 

Restless Legs Syndrome

Also known as the Willis-Ekbom Disease, the restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes a burning or itching sensation in your legs when you lie down. It only gets worse at night, preventing you from falling asleep or staying asleep. In this case, you will feel an irresistible urge to move your legs caused by the unpleasant experience.

In some individuals, it may be a symptom of another condition. Iron deficiency, end-stage renal disease and hemodialysis, pregnancy, and neuropathy are some examples.

RLS can be treated with some lifestyle changes. Your doctor may advise regular exercise, limited caffeine and alcohol intake, and adjusted medication if you’re undergoing one.

Periodic Limb Movements

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) involves movements in the lower limbs every 20 to 40 seconds during sleep. These are “brief muscle twitches, jerking movements or an upward flexing of the feet.” Because they are repetitive, they can cause arousals or awakenings among sufferers. In turn, this contributes to chronic insomnia or the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night.

The cause of PLMD is still unknown. Some medications have been found to work on people with PLMD. Treatment is also applied only when the individual is also suffering from RLS.

Sleep Bruxism

The clenching or grinding of teeth in your sleep is referred to as bruxism. Approximately 80% of adults have sleep bruxism. The jaw naturally contracts while you’re dozing off, and when these contractions are strong, they produce a grinding sound. The noise may not wake you up or wake you up briefly. But it can be a source of nuisance for your bed partner.

Some experts think bruxism is caused by anxiety, certain medications, or sleep apnea. Treatment includes stress reduction in the patient. In severe cases, the use of the dental appliance, jaw-aligning exercises, or self-directed therapies is recommended.

Final Words

We have featured the most common or known conditions for each group of sleep disorders. While you read through the article, did you have a lightbulb moment as to what your condition or that of someone you know is?

We hope you get enlightened by the information you found here. But we also recommend getting a proper diagnosis, so you can be given proper treatment.

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