Sleep Disorders

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Sleep Disorders

The National Institute of Health estimates that roughly 30 percent of the general population complain of sleep disruption. Sleep is important for optimal cognitive performance, physiological processes, emotional regulation, and quality of life. A lot of people may have overlooked the importance of sleep or may not fully understand the connection of sleep deprivation to the optimal functioning of individuals. Although we can obviously survive extreme levels of sleep deprivation, the results of sleepiness can be serious and fatal at times.

An experiment carried out by Peter Tripp reported visual hallucinations, headache and cognitive confusion as a result of continued sleeplessness in individual who stay awake for 201 hours (just over 8 days) consecutively.

Sleep disorders is known to be a common age‐old problems that can lead to emotional/physiological distress and discomfort, impaired daytime functioning, and serious complications.

Sleep disorders are conditions that result in changes in the way that you sleep. A sleep disorder can affect your overall health, safety and quality of life.

Types of sleep disorders

a). Dyssomnia:   Involves difficulties initiating, timing and maintaining enough sleep to feel rested.

b). Parasomnias:   Occur when arousal behaviours disturb ongoing sleep.



Insomnia occurs when an individual has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep even though there is opportunity to get a full night’s sleep. It is defined by the quality of sleep and how you feel after sleeping not necessarily the number of hours you sleep at night or how quickly we doze off at the beginning of the night. Since different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is therefore the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling well rested and refreshed.

Even if you are spending 7 to 9 hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be having insomnia or other sleep problems.

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. Roughly 10 to 30% of adults have insomnia at any given point in time and up to half of the world’s population have insomnia in a given year. About 6% of people have insomnia that is not due to any other problem and lasts for more than a month. People over the age of 65 are affected more often than younger people. Insomnia is also more common among older adult females and people with medical and mental illness.

Insomnia includes a wide range of symptoms, from a reduction in sleep quality to a reduction in quantity of sleep. It may also include: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep throughout the night and waking up too early in the morning. Insomnia involves both a sleep disturbance and daytime symptoms.

Insomnia can be classified on the basis of duration of the problem.

a). Transient insomnia: Lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. Its consequences which include sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance are similar to those of sleep deprivation.

b). Acute insomnia: Is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month. Insomnia is present when there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or when the sleep that is obtained is non-refreshing or of poor quality. These problems occur despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep and they must result in problems with daytime function. Acute insomnia is also known as short term insomnia or stress related insomnia.

c). Chronic insomnia: Lasts for longer than a month. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. People with high levels of stress hormones or shifts in the levels of cytokines are more likely than others to have chronic insomnia. Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include muscular weariness, hallucinations, and/or mental fatigue. Chronic insomnia can cause double vision.

Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other conditions. Insomnia can be caused by physical factors as well as psychological factors. There is often an underlying medical condition that causes chronic insomnia, while transient insomnia may be due to a recent event or occurrence.

Common causes of insomnia

a). Electronic Devices

b). Disruptions in circadian rhythm

c). Mental health disorders

d). Medical

e). Hormones

f). Stress

g). Travel or work schedule

h). Eating too much late in the evening

i). Medications

J). Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol

k). Sleep-related disorders

l). Other factors

Symptoms of insomnia:

• Difficulty falling asleep at night

• Trouble getting back to sleep after waking up

• Waking up too early in the morning

• Not feeling well-rested after a night's sleep

• Daytime drowsiness, fatigue, tiredness or sleepiness

• Irritability, depression or anxiety

• Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering

• Increased errors or accidents

• On-going worries about sleep

• Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep


Narcolepsy is a sudden uncontrollable sleep attacks. It is an excessive sleepiness or a sleep attack at any time of the day. It is a lifelong sleep disorder that makes you feel overwhelmingly tired. Narcolepsy can impact nearly every aspect of your life. Many people with narcolepsy do not know they have the sleep disorder.

Narcolepsy involves excessive daytime sleepiness in which you have attacks that cause a sudden loss of muscle tone while you are awake. It may lead to slurred speech and buckling knees, or in more severe cases complete paralysis. You may take a nap for a couple of hours and wake up feeling refreshed. But after a short time, you feel tired again.

Some people assume that because they are consistently tired during the day, that they may have narcolepsy. Other sleep disorders that cause daytime sleepiness are often mistaken for narcolepsy. These include sleep apnea, circadian rhythm sleep disorders and restless legs syndrome.

Sleep Apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea is considered a sleep-related breathing disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes breathing to temporarily cease during sleep. It is a sleep disorder where the airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches the lungs. This may result to snoring loudly or making choking noises when breathing. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several times a night. This is caused by the tissue in the back of the throat collapsing. The muscles of the upper airway relax when you fall asleep. If you sleep on your back, gravity can cause the tongue to fall back. This narrows the airway, which reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The narrowed airway causes snoring by making the tissue in back of the throat vibrate as you breathe. Your brain and body becomes oxygen deprived and you may wake up. The lack of oxygen your body receives can have negative long-term consequences for your health.

Sleep apnea can make you wake up in the morning feeling tired or unrefreshed even though you have had a full night of sleep. During the day, you may feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating or you may even unintentionally fall asleep. Other health consequences of OSA include Stroke, High blood pressure, Diabetes, Heart disease, and Depression. There are many people with sleep apnea who have not been diagnosed or received treatment.

Sleeping Sickness (African trypanosomiasis):

Is a terrifying inability to move or speak while remaining fully alert. It occurs in some patients with narcolepsy and may occur in other conditions, such as severe anxiety.

Sleep Paralysis:

A disease of tropical Africa caused by the presence in the blood of the parasitic protozoans Trypanosoma. The parasites are transmitted through the bite of tsetse flies. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, and chills, followed later by enlargement of the lymph nodes, anaemia, and pains in the limbs and joints. After a period of several months or even years, the parasites invade the minute blood vessels supplying the central nervous system. This causes drowsiness and lethargy, and ultimately, if not treated the patient dies.

Sleep – Walking (Somnambulism):

Walking about and performing other actions in a semiautomatic way during sleep without later memory of doing so. It is common during childhood and may persist into adult life. It can also arise spontaneously or as the result of stress or hypnosis.

Some of the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders include excessive daytime sleepiness, irregular breathing or increased movement during sleep. Other signs and symptoms include an irregular sleep and wake cycle and difficulty falling asleep.