Patient Resource Center

123 Capcom Avenue, Suite 3 Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587 Tel: 919-570-5277 Fax: 919-570-5377

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Sleep and CPAP Guide

Most Common Sleep Disorders

Sleep Apnea

A disorder that causes people to stop breathing for periods during the night, sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked, or the brain doesn't send the correct signals to the muscles that control breathing. Apneas can last anywhere from 10 seconds to a full minute, and can occur anywhere from five to 100 times per night.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up gasping for air during the night, restless sleep, a sore throat or headache in the morning, daytime fatigue, forgetfulness, mood swings and falling asleep easily during the day. While sleep apnea can affect anyone of any age, the largest risk factors are being a white male that is over 40 and overweight. Family history of sleep apnea is also a risk factor.

Insomnia

This disorder makes it hard for people to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. Around 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia, spending $14 billion on treatments every year. The cause of insomnia, while not definite, can be found in the stress and anxiety levels of each person, along with depression, physical pain, medications and caffeine.

The symptoms of insomnia occur night after night, not just every once in awhile. They include trouble falling and/or staying asleep, waking up feeling unrefreshed, morning headaches, trouble remembering things or focusing, irritability and mood swings. Risk factors include being a female over 60, having high stress or anxiety levels, working the night shift or constantly changing shifts at your job or traveling long distances frequently.

Restless Legs Syndrome

RLS is characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs and legs jerking during the night, causing sleep deprivation. Around 12 million Americans suffer from RLS, for which there is no cure. Doctors also do not yet know the exact cause of RLS other than it the disorder is based in the brain and/or the spinal column and that it is linked to other conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson's and more.

RLS causes people to have a strong impulse to move their legs, sometimes feeling like their legs are tingling or have something crawling on them. The feeling becomes worse when seated or laying down, and is only relieved by standing up or walking around.

Interviews with patients who have RLS have shown a large number of those patients being told they had growing pains or that their parents helped them go to sleep by rubbing their legs when they were younger.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic brain disorder with no cure, characterized by unregulated sleep-wake cycles caused by the lack of hypocretin in the brain. Narcoleptics sleep terribly at night and have abnormal REM sleep, although may fall asleep suddenly during the day, even while talking, walking and driving.

Besides those symptoms, narcoleptics also experience dramatic or terrifying dreams while sleeping and hallucinations when they wake, cataplexy (suddenly losing control of muscles when showing strong emotions like laughing or crying) and sleep paralysis.

Risk factors are hard to pinpoint, although it is safe to say that the risk of developing narcolepsy is greater if an immediate family member has it. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, as well as taking regularly scheduled 15-minute naps at the same time every day can help.