Symptoms and Disorders
Almost everyone has occasional issues related to sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping most nights – or if you have any of the following symptoms – you may have a treatable sleep disorder:
- Persistent difficulty falling asleep at night;
- Waking often during the night;
- Difficulty staying awake and alert during the day;
- Trouble concentrating during the day;
- Loud snoring;
- Choking or gasping for breath while asleep;
- Abnormal leg movements during sleep or restlessness of legs at bedtime;
- Constant state of fatigue;
These are all real signs of a possible sleep disorder. More than just an inconvenience, these disorders can have a significant impact on your everyday activities. Fortunately, most sleep disorders can be treated easily and effectively. The first step is taking your problem seriously. We are here to help.
The following are some of the most common sleep disorders we diagnose and treat:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
There are few sleep-related ailments more jarring than when a person stops breathing while asleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that causes your body to stop breathing during sleep. This is a health issue for the person affected and can also negatively impact anyone who is sharing a sleeping space. Patients with OSA develop an upper airway obstruction when airway muscles (esp. the tongue and palate muscles) relax during sleep. Obesity, an enlarged neck, or a small jaw size can cause a narrowing of the upper airway making it easier for complete airway obstruction to develop during sleep.
Common symptoms include:
- Loud habitual snoring;
- Pauses in breathing during sleep or waking up with choking/gasping sensation;
- Poor quality sleep'
- Daytime fatigue, memory difficulty, and sleepiness;
OSA is not merely an inconvenience. It can lead to serious health issues like depression, headaches, excessive nighttime urination, erectile dysfunction, heartburn, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack or strokes, worsening of heart failure, and difficulty in controlling blood sugar in diabetics. This is why treating and diagnosing OSA is so important.
- Weight loss;
- Use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP);
- Upper airway surgery such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP);
- Use of oral appliances (mandibular advancement devices) that pull the jaw forward;
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Do your legs twitch uncontrollably while trying to sleep? You may have Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings. Patients with RLS may experience rhythmic leg jerks during sleep called "Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.” These leg movements may result in insomnia, restless sleep, and poor quality sleep, or daytime fatigue/sleepiness.
If you have insomnia, you know the recurring experience of trying to sleep at night and stay awake during the day. Insomnia is characterized by repeated difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, early morning awakenings, and an inadequate quantity of sleep. These symptoms can result in some form of daytime impairment.
A lack of REM sleep can significantly impact your daily activities by causing anxiety, irritability, hallucinations, and difficulty concentrating. Narcolepsy is a disorder of REM sleep regulation with a tendency for REM sleep to occur at inappropriate times. This results in excessive daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis and cataplexy (sudden weakening of muscles often precipitated by laughter). Even though a person with narcolepsy might be sleepy, their nighttime sleep may be frequently disrupted.
If you fall asleep but then engage in disruptive behavior, you may suffer from parasomnia. Parasomnias are disorders of arousal that occur during entry into sleep, within sleep, or during arousals from sleep. This can result in disruptive behavior that can be unsettling for both the sufferer and their loved ones.
Common symptoms include:
- Sleep walking;
- Acting out dreams with sleep terror;
- Sleep-related eating disorders, where someone in a state of sleep binge eats without realizing what they are doing;
Some of this behavior may result in injury to the patient or others.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
Does it feel like your body’s sleep “clock” is never set to the right time? You are awake at night and want to sleep during work or school? You may have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is caused when an individual’s body doesn’t recognized environmental time cues that lead most of us through our sleep/wake cycle.