A sleep disorder is characterized as the disturbance in time, quality, amount, or behavior associated with sleep. The average length of time an individual sleeps varies but on average most adults sleep between seven and nine hours per night. Not only is the quantity of sleep important but the quality of sleep is also important. People need to sleep in order think clearly and react quickly to everyday situations.
There are five stages of normal human sleep cycle.
Stage 1 occurs when an individual is falling asleep and is considered a NREM (non-rapid eye movement sleep). About 5 percent of Stage 1 is represented in a normal adult sleep time.
Stage 2 marks the beginning of true sleep. About 50 percent of Stage 2 is represented in a normal adult sleep time.
Stage 3 and Stage 4 is the deepest level of sleep. About 10-20 percent of Stage 3 and 4 is represented in a normal adult sleep time.
Stage 5 is the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. About 20-25 percent of Stage 5 is presented in a normal adult sleep time.
The following is a list of the different types of sleep issues that exist:
Insomnia – An individual has difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep.
Hypersomnia – An individual experiences episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged
sleep during the night.
Narcolepsy – This is a chronic sleeping disorder and a chronic neurological disorder that is caused by the inability of an individual’s brain to regulate sleep-wake cycles properly.
Restless leg syndrome – This is a neurological disorder where an individual experiences an unpleasant sensation in their leg (such as a creeping or tugging feeling).
Sleep apnea – It occurs when an individual has one or more pauses in breathing while sleeping.
The breathing pauses for seconds or minutes depending on the severity of an individual’s sleep apnea.
Other sleep issues include mental disorders (depression or anxiety), or existing medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Encephalitis, or Thyroid disease.
Not all sleep disorders are related to a medical condition or disorder. Individuals can also experience nightmares, sleepwalking, night terrors, and teeth grinding which are also considered sleep disorders.
Emotional, environmental, or physical changes can also cause sleeping issues. The changing of a job, moving to a new home, financial problems, and death or illness of a family member can result in sleep disorders.
Sleep disorders can be caused by medications such as antihistamines (used to treat allergies) or corticosteroids (used to treat cancer) that can affect the central nervous system and cause an individual to experience trouble sleeping. A common cause of sleep disorder is an individual having trouble sleeping due to consumption of caffeine or alcohol.
There are also work related issues that can cause sleep disorders – in addition to the most common work related issue which is stress. An individual that travels a great deal can experience jetlag due to time changes. Also, an individual who works shift work can experience sleep disorders when switching from one shift to another.
An individual’s sleeping arrangements can also contribute to a sleep disorder. For example, an individual that is sharing a sleeping space with an individual who snores heavily can contribute to a sleep disorder.
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