Sleep Deprivation and Disorders
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), over 25 percent of Americans experience occasional sleep deprivation. For some, disrupted sleep results from the hectic nature of modern lifestyles. For others, serious sleep disorders affect both rest and health.
Sleep disorders often go undiagnosed. Although most people know that eight hours of sleep per night is desirable, few people know much about sleep disorders, and tend to dismiss sleep problems as unimportant. Popular culture often undercuts the need for sleep disorders treatment. Sayings such as “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” suggest lack of sleep is an unavoidable part of modern life. In actual fact, sleep plays a vital role in health and wellness.
About Sleep Disorders and Health
Sleep disorders increase the risk of serious and chronic health conditions, including depression, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Untreated sleeping disorders can also negatively affect treatment outcomes for these diseases.
It’s difficult to judge the effect disrupted sleep has on accident rates, but drowsy driving is a factor in many motor vehicle and heavy machinery accidents. The National Sleep Foundation (2010) reports 60 percent of American adults drive while sleepy every year, and that an alarming 37 percent admit to falling asleep while driving.
Types of Sleeping Disorders
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (n.d.), 81 different sleeping disorders exist. Some are more common than others. Examples of sleeping disorders include:
- Night terrors
- REM sleep behavior disorder
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Teeth grinding, or bruxism.
Popular beliefs about sleep disorders are sometimes misleading. Many people don’t think of snoring as a sleep disorder, for instance, but snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, which causes breathing interruptions during sleep and can result in serious health complications or death.
Signs of a Sleeping Disorder
Identifying a sleeping disorder can be difficult, as few people know much about these conditions. As noted above, people often accept sleep deprivation or insomnia as the price of living in a hectic world, and rarely consider that an underlying sleeping disorder may be causing sleep disruptions.
Possible signs of a sleeping disorder include excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, irritability, difficulty thinking and snoring. People who have difficulty falling asleep, wake frequently, wake too early or fall asleep very quickly may also benefit from sleep disorders treatment.
Sleep Disorders Treatment
Sleep disorders treatment depends on the nature of the sleeping disorder and may include medication, changes to sleep habits and even surgical procedures. Sleep apnea may be treated with devices that deliver a steady stream of air to the lungs.
Sleep disorders treatment restores normal sleep patterns and helps prevent the many health complications associated with sleeping disorders. Increasing public knowledge about sleep disorders helps people understand the need for sleep disorders treatment. Excessive sleepiness is a warning sign of possible health problems, not an unavoidable result of modern life.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (n.d.). Sleep disorders. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www.sleepeducation.com/Disorders.aspx.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Key sleep disorders. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/disorders.htm.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Sleep and sleep disorders: A public health challenge. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/.
National Sleep Foundation. (2010). Facts and stats. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://drowsydriving.org/about/facts-and-stats/.
SleepNet. (2007). Sleep deprivation links and information. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from the http://www.sleepnet.com/depriv.htm.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2006). Sleep disorders. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/ucm118563.htm.