Sleep Disorders… Do I Have One?
Most of us have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at some point in our lives. Sometimes these problems are temporary and can be due to stress. In other cases, the problem persists for weeks or even months. If you are unable to fall asleep for more than 30 minutes after going to bed, 3 or more nights per week for 4 weeks, then you may have what is known as primary insomnia. This may be due to psychological and/or physiological causes, and if it persists for more than a month, you should see your clinician.
Other sleep disorders:
Narcolepsy is an inherited condition of excessive sleepiness that causes temporary loss of muscle control and/or uncontrollable sleep attacks”. There is no cure for narcolepsy, although it can be controlled through drug treatment.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the soft tissue of the upper airway repeatedly collapses during sleep and cuts off breathing for a short time, and then the airway opens abruptly and noisily. The constant interruptions of sleep cause excessive sleepiness during the day, but sleep apnea may go unnoticed unless someone sleeps in the same room and hears interruptions. Obesity increases the risk of this disorder.
Restless legs is a condition in which the legs jerk uncontrollably during sleep, disturbing sleep and causing daytime sleepiness.
When Should I Get Help?
Consider seeing your clinician if you:
- Have trouble getting to sleep or wake up frequently during the night for a period of several weeks
- Fall asleep at inappropriate times even after a night of adequate sleep
- Have nightmares or night terrors (the experience of awakening in a terrified state without recollection of a dream) that interrupt your sleep
- Have been told by someone that you stop breathing during sleep, especially if you have morning headaches or fall asleep easily during the day
If you are experiencing any changes in your sleep patterns or are having any of the above mentioned sleep disorders the Health and Counseling Center is available by appointment at 330-569-5418.
University Health Center, UGA. 2014.
National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org
The Better Sleep Council, www.bettersleep.org