Recognize Sleeping Disorders

At the end of the day, particularly a long one, all of us need to sleep. Whether it’s work, school, or plain house chores that kept us busy, our bodies will call for a good night’s rest after a day’s worth of activities. You would think that sleep comes automatically once you go to bed, especially after you toiled and labored for several straight hours earlier. Unfortunately for some, it isn’t always the case.

I’m guessing at one point or another, all of us has experienced trouble in sleeping. We’ve all had this scenario happen to us – lying in bed, eyes shut, mind still engulfed with thoughts. No matter how tired or spent you are, no matter how soft and comfortable your bed is, somehow, you still can’t manage to get some shut-eye. You block off all your thoughts – may it be of happiness, excitement, worry, grief, or something else -and start to count sheep; but it still wasn’t enough.

There’s also this scenario –  you set your alarm at 6AM, lie down by 11PM, have a hard time sleeping for a while, but when you finally get to do so, you wake up three hours earlier than scheduled. You then find it hard to go back to sleep and just relent to the idea of just starting your day a bit earlier. But waking up much earlier and having only a few hours of slumber will leave you sleepy and fatigued during the day – the time when you need to be up and about.

The sleeping disorder described in the first three paragraphs is called insomnia. It is known as the most common type of sleeping problem. But insomnia can also be a symptom of other sleeping disorders. May it be lack of sleep, feeling sleepy at inappropriate times, or having conditions not normal to sleep such as snoring, bedwetting, or uncontrollable movement, one should never undermine the health consequences of problems relating to sleep.

Below are samples of sleep disorders and their known symptoms:

Insomnia (as described above, but just to reiterate)

Symptoms:

  • Inability to sleep right away
  • Deprivation of sleep throughout the night
  • Shorter sleeping period / waking up earlier than usual
  • Sleepiness and feeling fatigued during daytime
  • Falling to sleep without realizing it
  • Diminished focus, alertness, ability to process and retain information
  • Irritability

Sleep Apnea – This is the pausing of breathing or moments of abnormally long intervals in between breathing while asleep. Each pause is called apnea, which can vary from mere seconds to several minutes. Most cases of sleep apnea go undetected by the individual experiencing it.

Symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Waking up with a very sore and/or dry throat and nasal congestion
  • Gasping, choking, or snorting during sleep or upon waking up
  • Sleepiness and feeling fatigued during daytime
  • Morning headaches and chest pains
  • Feeling sleepy while driving
  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness, being moody, and a decreased sexual desire

Narcolepsy – This is the irrepressible urge to sleep during daytime. Severe sleepiness is experienced during various pints of the day which can lead to you falling asleep without you knowing it. Abnormal sleeping patterns are evident in those with narcolepsy.

Symptoms:

  • Overwhelming sleepiness during daytime
  • Cataplexy (the abrupt and temporary loss of muscle tone often triggered by emotions such as laughter)
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep paralysis (the person is unable to move briefly upon sleeping and after waking up)

Restless Legs Syndrome – This is the unpleasant itching or tingling sensation that you may feel in your legs (can also be in your arms) as you try to sleep. Resting triggers this inexorable sensation. The weird feeling is pretty much its #1 symptom which often leads you to moving around your legs as you try to shake it off.

As I’ve said above, none of these disorders should be scoffed at. These are serious conditions which may lead to more complications if not addressed properly and immediately. Seek the help of a professional upon suspicion of having any kind of sleeping problem.