Put simply, a sleep disorder is any form of dysfunctional sleep pattern that has a negative impact on your day to day life. They’re far more numerous than you might imagine. In fact, they are around 96 recorded sleep disorders that have been classified. However, we’re only going to deal with the most common.
Everyone has experienced difficulty falling to sleep from time to time. This is normal. But when it continues over a prolonged period, it then becomes insomnia. It’s characterised by not just being able to fall asleep, but also staying asleep. You need to have been experiencing symptoms for at least three months before a proper diagnosis can be given. It is most often brought on by stress.
Sleep Apnea is a potentially life-threatening disorder in which the breath stops due to the collapse of soft tissue around the back of the throat. Each time one of these events happen, it causes you to wake up to resume breathing, consciously. This can happen multiple times throughout the night, leading to broken sleep patterns. It can result in daytime sleepiness, depression and memory issues.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is characterised by the controllable urge to move your legs. It’s a form of sciatic reaction. Although it doesn’t have an official cause according to current studies, it’s thought that RLS may be due to a magnesium deficiency. Around 10% of the population have experienced issues with RLS, but partaking in regular exercise and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake have helped alleviate symptoms.
The main hallmark of Narcolepsy is the experience tiredness during the day, which leads to the sufferer falling asleep at inappropriate times. These are commonly referred to as “sleep attacks,” and the symptoms can manifest despite the person having had adequate sleep the previous night. Other signs of Narcolepsy include catalepsy (loss of muscle function) and sleep hypnagogic paralysis hallucinations.
Circadian Rhythm Disorder
When your sleep pattern is advanced or delayed outside of its normal time frame, it disrupts your body’s natural clock — the Circadian Rhythm. You might have experienced this flying to or from another country. It’s temporary and lasts only a few days. But with the constant use of devices late at night, there’s an increasing prevalence in dysfunctional sleep patterns, which are impacting on our day-to-day life.
REM Sleep Disorder
When the REM sleep patterns are disrupted, it can potentially be extremely dangerous. The REM cycle is what keeps you from acting out your dreams at night. It essentially keeps you in your bed out of harm’s way. This disorder happens when the mechanism in the brain that prevents motor function during sleep becomes faulty. It’s a rare form of disorder and medication is usually advice due to the seriousness.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
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Webmd. (2018) Healthy Sleep Health Centre. Retrieved on 11th December, 2019 from,
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