Nearly everyone has had trouble sleeping at some point in their lives. Fortunately, their bouts of insomnia are usually situational and temporary. But for others, the battle to get adequate sleep can be real, lasting and problematic. About 10% of Americans are cursed with chronic insomnia, which can have a negative impact on physical and mental health.
Sleep disorders can wreak havoc on a person’s life. They can raise depression and anxiety risk, and they can keep employees from performing well at work. One study estimated that the average adult with insomnia misses eight days of work per year for fatigue alone. That adds up to a significant loss in productivity.
There are many different sleep disorders, but the most common are insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Insomnia is the most widely known and understood sleep disorder. Aside from sleeplessness, symptoms include fatigue, inability to focus, poor memory, moodiness, low energy and an increased risk of errors or accidents. Insomnia may be an indicator of a larger mental health issue. It may be temporary or situational or it may be recurring.
Make an appointment with a Newport Beach psychiatrist for a consultation if you’re faced with chronic insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment. It involves changing attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that have a negative impact on your sleep. The positive effects of cognitive behavioral therapy are long-lasting.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. It typically begins between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can become apparent at any age. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and may lose the ability to control when they fall asleep. Needless to say, this can be very dangerous. In addition to therapy, narcolepsy is usually treated with medications ranging from stimulants to antidepressants.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, often repeatedly. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form, caused by a blockage of the airway by the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to tell the body to breathe during sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea include excessive snoring, daytime fatigue, gasping for air while sleeping and trouble concentrating.
Seek medical help for sleep apnea right away. In some cases, lifestyle changes like weight loss and quitting smoking can help. In other cases, a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) is used. A mask is placed over the nose and mouth before sleep, and the CPAP will help the person breathe. In extreme cases, sometimes surgery is necessary.
Restless Leg Syndrome causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move the legs. The sensation is most often brought on by resting and lying down in bed, so it can make it impossible for people to sleep. RLS is also associated with problems with daytime sleepiness, irritability and poor concentration. Often, people with RLS want to walk around and shake their legs to help relieve the discomfort. Things like air travel and long car rides can be torturous for them.
People with RLS symptoms should see their primary care provider for a diagnosis. Sometimes the situation is temporary and can be helped by quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting frequent massages to increase circulation. Iron supplements can also be helpful. Occasionally people with RLS need to seek out help from neurologists who can administer medication and treat underlying nervous system disorders.
Sleep disorders are diagnosed in different ways. Most often, if you suspect you have a sleep disorder you should first seek help from your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a sleep disorder clinic that will be more helpful. Sleep disorder specialists will review your symptoms and may have treatment suggestions or recommend you for a sleep study.
Since many sleep disorders have underlying mental health ties and may lead to some mental disorders, however, it is also best to seek out a Newport Beach psychiatrist who can help you with cognitive behavioral therapy as well. By reprogramming your brain, you’ll be able to help yourself heal and sleep more soundly.
Sleep and psychiatric disorders often occur at the same time. While this is not always the case, a psychiatric evaluation is always best to rule out an unknown and underlying mental disorder. The most common psychiatric disorders associated with sleep issues are depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Treating sleep disorders has been shown to improve the coexisting psychiatric condition and overall happiness.
Needless to say, the duration and quality of your sleep can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Sleep deprived people are always tired, prone to irritability and don’t have the energy to enjoy their normal activities. They can also be more susceptible to colds and influenza. If your insomnia lasts more than a few days or comes on without warning, or if you suspect you have another sleep disorder, don’t delay getting help.