Some of the common symptoms of sleep disorders include: lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, memory loss and forgetfulness, diminished productivity and performance at work or school, depression, lack of energy, mood disturbances (e.g. irritability, anger, impulsive actions, etc.), irregular breathing, fatigued driving, and a general decreased quality of life.
Common Sleep Disorders
Sleep apnea (formally called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA) affects about 20 million people in the U.S. However, Dr. Avi Weisfogel notes that as many as 90 percent of these individuals are living with undiagnosed and therefore untreated sleep apnea, possibly because they don’t know they have this debilitating and potentially fatal condition, or they do not understand that it is a serious problem that has to be assessed by a healthcare professional.
Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in the throat relax during sleep and block the upper respiratory system. A partial blockage typically causes snoring, while a full blockage causes somebody to stop breathing for several seconds during the night. This forced the mind to awaken and triggers violent gasping and hacking, in order to clear the airway and allow oxygen to get into the lungs.
As noted above, many men and women who undergo this process on a regular basis — and it may happen several times a night — are unaware that it is happening. Therefore, upon awakening they typically feel exhausted and irritable, but do not understand why (or they attribute it to the wrong root cause, like something they ate or an argument, they had the night before). In addition, the burden placed on the respiratory system puts a strain on the heart, which may result in heart attack, heart arrhythmia, heart failure, and other severe and potentially fatal cardiological issues.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological disorder that compels individuals to constantly move their legs, feet, and possibly other body parts during sleep. The compulsion is triggered by senses like itching, aching, burning, throbbing and pulsing. Understandably, the continuous need to shift position wreaks havoc on sleep quality. Just like sleep apnea, lots of people who suffer from restless leg syndrome are unaware that they have a clinical condition for which treatment and drugs are available. Dietary and lifestyle changes may also alleviate or eliminate symptoms.
If you know or think that you are suffering from one of them or any other sleep disorders, then talk with your primary care doctor. A growing number of dentists are also offering their patients sleep apnea evaluations. Adds Dr. Avi Weisfogel: it is a mistake for people to assume that sleep disorders correct themselves over time, or that poor excellent sleep is something which they must learn how to live with and accept. Neither of them are true. The issue is serious, and help is available.