According to a report highlighted by the NHS, a staggering thirty percent of the UK’s population are affected by insomnia and other such conditions which have a detrimental affect on our sleep. The amount of regular, quality sleep that we get has far-reaching consequences on everything ranging from our productivity levels at work, to our mental well-being and our physical welfare.
There are over eighty conditions which exist that affect our sleep patterns to some degree. Let’s look at some of the most common sleep disorders that affect us, and some of the more common categories the conditions come under.
There are a number of identified sleep conditions or disorders that are real and affect real people. There have been countless research studies that have been done on sleep and what affects it.
There is still a lot for us to learn about the purpose of sleep but experts are beginning to understand more and more about it, uncovering the secrets of sleep. They’ve even found how your genes can affect how much sleep you need.
Whilst we encourage readers to avoid self-diagnosing, it is important to understand some of the most frequently diagnosed sleeping conditions.
Here we take a look at some of them:
Table of contents
Sleep apnea is a serious condition and diagnosis is often correlated with other health conditions such as obesity, stroke and heart attack. Put simply, it is when a person stops breathing or breathes shallower for a period of time when they are asleep. For people that are diagnosed with the conditions, it may be that they have 30 or so of these so called “events” every hour. These events interrupt your sleep by waking the sleeper up or by decreasing the amount of oxygen that is available to you.
Sleep apnea is one of the most well-known sleeping conditions and will often cause daytime sleepiness because of this interrupted sleep. There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central. Learn more about sleep apnea.
Perhaps the most common sleep disorder, and one that many of us experience, is insomnia. Insomnia makes it extremely difficult for a person to fall asleep and maintain anything like a proper sleep pattern. Regardless of whether the external environment is ideal for providing a suitable sleeping situation, insomnia will prevent one from getting any real sleep.
Insomnia can act as a bit of a catch all diagnosis for most sleep conditions. It can be caused by lifestyle factors, or mental or physical problems. Stress and anxiety are two of the leading causes. Learn more about insomnia.
Snoring is regarded by those within the medical profession to be a sleep related breathing disorder, and is a very common issue; it’s believed that almost half of all adults snore. Snoring doesn’t just affect the person with the issue, but it can have a detrimental affect on their partner’s or other family members’ ability to sleep.
Not everybody who snores is considered to have a disorder, however, as it depends on the severity of your snoring, and how much it is affecting you or others. Learn more about snoring.
Hypersomnia is a condition which, rather than resulting in less, sleep is actually the reverse of this, and is characterised by an excessive amount of sleepiness, especially throughout the day. People with the condition often experience what is known as confusional arousals, or “sleep drunkenness”. Afterwards, the sufferer will wake up feeling extremely groggy and disorientated. Click here to learn more about hypersomnia.
Narcolepsy is a common condition which is caused by a particular defect in a part of the brain, which results in an excessive level of sleepiness throughout the day, and can even lead to people falling asleep whilst performing routine tasks.
There are few examples of sleep related movement disorders.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
The first is Restless Legs Syndrome, or RLS, is a condition which not only can affect a person whilst they are sleeping, but also through the daytime too. Sufferers do find that their condition is usually worse whilst they’re asleep, or in the evening. This results in those living with the condition being unable to find it possible to enjoy a refreshing night’s sleep, and often find it difficult falling asleep in the first place. RLS results in people feeling as though they have an irresistible urge to move there legs, or sometimes arms, and other symptoms such as burning, cramping or itching can occur. Exercising, taking a bath, or receiving a massage can help alleviate the feelings.
Bruxism, which is where people clench or grind their teeth throughout the night, is believed to affect around 8% of the population. This can result in the need for dental work and can cause jaw and facial pain to those with the condition. Medical experts believe that it can be linked to people who smoke and drink coffee and alcohol, and potentially be more common amongst those suffering from stress and anxiety.
Hypnic jerks are another type of sleep related movement disorders. This sensation, which many of us have experienced, is where one feels their body ‘jerk’ whilst falling asleep. It’s a sudden jolt of the body which often wakes a person up. In most cases, it’s a rare occurrence and not cause for alarm, despite it often feeling quite distressing.
Professional help with sleep
This is far from an extensive list of every sleep condition in the world, but it’s an introduction to some of the more common sleep disorders, and it should give you some insight into the various conditions which can affect sufferers and their sleep patterns. Remember that if you’re suffering, or believe you are suffering from any particular sleep condition, then it is important that the information within these guides does not replace professional help. Find more information here.