Sleep Disorder Symptoms
Poor sleep isn't simply an inconvenience. Left untreated, a sleep disorder can lead to serious medical conditions including heart attack or stroke, motor vehicle accidents, problems at home or work, and strains on relationships. If any of the symptoms listed below affect you, a sleep study may make a difference.
- Loud, habitual snoring
- Choking, gasping, or snorting during sleep
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Daytime fatigue
- Frequent napping
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Crawling, tingling or painful sensations in legs while sitting or lying still in bed
- Leg or arm jerks during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Memory and concentration problems
- Irritability/personality changes
- High blood pressure
- Sexual problems
The most common sleep disorders include the following:
Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night, and often for a minute or longer. It is usually accompanied by snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea is a combination of the two. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses the sleeper to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality. Usually there is no memory of these brief awakenings. Sleep apnea is as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but it can strike anyone at any age, even children.
Chronic insomnia occurs when a person has difficulty falling or staying asleep, or wakes up and remains awake for long periods during the night. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men. Insomnia is defined as chronic when it occurs at least three nights a week for a month or longer. Common causes of chronic insomnia are depression, chronic stress, and pain or discomfort at night.
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. At various times throughout the day, people with narcolepsy experience fleeting urges to sleep. If the urge becomes overwhelming, individuals will fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer. In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), three other major symptoms frequently characterize narcolepsy: cataplexy, or the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone; vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening; and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep. Narcolepsy is not definitively diagnosed in most patients until 10 to 15 years after the first symptoms appear. The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is an overwhelming urge to move the legs usually caused by uncomfortable or in the evening and at night, are relieved by movement of the limb, often cause difficulty falling or staying asleep, and may cause involuntary jerking of the limbs during sleep and sometimes during wakefulness. Up to 8 percent of the U.S. population may have this neurologic condition. In many cases, no known cause exists. Researchers suspect the condition may be due to an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine, which sends messages to control muscle movement. It sometimes accompanies other conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the hands and feet due to chronic diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism) or iron deficiency (related to anemia, a history of bleeding from the stomach or bowel, heavy menstrual periods, or kidney failure).
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) affects people only during sleep. The condition is characterized by behavior ranging from shallow, continual movement of the ankle or toes, to wild and strenuous kicking and flailing of the legs and arms. Abdominal, oral, and nasal movement sometimes accompanies PLMD. PLMD and restless leg syndrome (RLS) are distinct disorders, but often occur simultaneously. Both PLMD and RLS are also called (nocturnal) myoclonus, which describes frequent or involuntary muscle spasms.
Bruxism, often referred to as "gnashing," is the act of involuntary teeth grinding, either while awake or asleep, which results primarily in tooth damage and jaw pain. Nocturnal bruxism occurs in about 5 percent to 20 percent of adults and is even more prevalent among children. It occurs an average of 25 times per night, in four- to five-second episodes. The cause of bruxism is unknown, but several factors have been linked to its occurrence, including stress, facial or oral trauma, nervous system malfunction, poor diet, and allergies.
Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Circadian Rhythm Disorders are disruptions of the natural biological cycles that control how people are attuned to night and day. Most people function on a circadian rhythm of about 24 hours, which is controlled by the internal biological clock in the brain. In a person with a circadian rhythm disorder, the body is unable to maintain its normal rhythm. The natural sleep schedule changes so that the person is out of phase with day and night.
Sleep Terrors (also known as Pavor Nocturnus, incubus, severe autonomic discharge, or night terror) are characterized by a sudden arousal from slow wave sleep with a piercing scream or cry, accompanied by autonomic (controlled by the part of the nervous system that regulates motor functions of the heart, lungs, etc.) and behavioral displays of intense fear. The episodes usually occur within the first third of the night, and partial or total amnesia occurs for the events during the episode. In its severest form, the episodes occur almost nightly and/or are associated with physical injury to the patient or others.
Sleepwalking or somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while asleep. It is more common in children than adults and is more likely to occur if a person is sleep deprived. The prevalence of sleepwalking in the general population is estimated to be between 1 percent and 15 percent.
Who Is at Risk for Poor Sleep?
Just about everyone experiences an occasional night of poor sleep. But certain people may be particularly vulnerable. These include students; shift workers; travelers; people suffering from acute stress, depression or chronic pain; employees who work long hours or multiple jobs; and the elderly.
Common "sleep stealers" include:
- Psychological Factors: Stress is generally considered to be the No. 1 cause of short-term sleeping difficulties. If the problems aren't managed properly from the start, they can persist long after the original stress has passed. Depression can trigger both insomnia and sleeplessness.
- Lifestyle Stressors: Certain activities and behaviors can interfere with normal sleep, such as drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages late in the day, exercising close to bedtime, and working or doing other mentally demanding activities right before or after getting into bed.
- Shift Work: According to the National Sleep Foundation, research shows that shift workers are two to five times more likely than employees with regular, daytime hours to fall asleep on the job.
- Jet Lag: Traveling across several time zones can knock your biological rhythms "out of sync."
- Physical Factors: Arthritis and other conditions that cause pain or discomfort can interfere with sleep. Being overweight increases the risk for sleep apnea. For women, pregnancy and hormonal shifts can adversely affect sleep.
- Medications: Certain medications can interfere with sleep. These include decongestants, steroids, and some medicines for high blood pressure, asthma or depression.
Schedule a Complimentary Tour
If you sleep too much or too little, have unrestful sleep, or are experiencing symptoms that may be sleep-related, ask your physician for a prescription to visit the Center for Sleep Disorders. Check with your insurance plan to ensure that your care at the center will be covered, then call the center at (732) 303-5070 to schedule an appointment.
Want to see for yourself what we can do for you? Join us for a free tour of the Sleep Center by calling (732) 303-5070.
Directions and Parking
The Center for Sleep Disorders is located on the 3rd floor (Suite 360) of CentraState's new Star and Barry Tobias Ambulatory Campus, 901 W. Main St., adjacent to CentraState Medical Center.
To view a map showing the location of the Sleep Center parking area (four spaces are reserved for overnight Sleep Study patients), the nearest entrance, and where to go once you're inside the building check the Related Documents Box listed to the right.
For more information about CentraState's Center for Sleep Disorders, call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).