Understanding Sleep Disorders

understanding sleep disorders

We all have those nights: It’s difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Some of us can’t resist the 2 am smart phone check to read text messages or browse social media. Occasional restless nights of our own creation, increased stress at work, schedule changes, jet lag or the loss of a loved one are normal. But consistent sleep disruptions could indicate a sleep disorder.

Almost half of Americans report sleep-related problems—from minor sleep interruptions to chronic sleep disorders. That translates to roughly 162 million people attempting to drive safely and work efficiently on interrupted sleep or not enough sleep. People with sleep insufficiency are also more susceptible to chronic diseases, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Cancer

Common sleep disorders

There are more than 80 kinds of sleep disorders. The most common types are:

  • Insomnia – A hard time falling or staying asleep, resulting in decreased daytime function
  • Sleep apnea – Breathing interruptions during sleep
  • Restless legs syndrome – A tingling or prickly sensation in the legs relieved by moving, which may interfere with sleep
  • Narcolepsy – Daytime “sleep attacks,” sometimes accompanied by sudden muscle weakness

Causes of sleep disorders

Factors that contribute to sleep disorders include:

  • Physical and mental conditions – Heartburn, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic muscle or joint pain, allergies and respiratory problems, along with depression and anxiety disorders, can disrupt sleep
  • Environmental Alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants will often interfere with the sleep cycle
  • Working the night shift – People who work at night often cannot sleep, even when they feel drowsy — their activities run contrary to their “biological clocks”
  • Medicines – Many medicines can interfere with sleep
  • Aging – About half of all adults over the age of 65 have some sort of sleep disorder

Sleep disorder treatments

Depending on the cause of the sleep disorder, treatment normally involves a combination of medical care and lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Treating underlying health issues, like cardiac disease or pain
  • Using a CPAP machine or other continuous positive airway pressure devices, dental devices such as mandibular advancement and/or surgical options for sleep apnea
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (education about strategies to improve sleep)
  • Improving sleep environment
  • Psychological evaluations for anxiety and/or depression
  • Regular exercise
  • Limiting caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon or evening
  • Eliminating tobacco use and decreasing alcohol use
  • Avoidance of alcohol near bedtime

Expert care for sleep disorders and more

If your life, health and job are being impacted by poor quality sleep, interrupted sleep, insufficient sleep or daytime sleepiness, the team at Pomona Valley Health Centers is here for you. Our board-certified physicians are sleep disorder specialists who offer leading-edge diagnosis and treatment for sleep disorders.

Not only can we help you sleep better, we can care for the health and well being of your entire family. From family medicine to sports medicine and physical therapy, complete women’s health care and urgent care, PVHC offers four convenient locations throughout Southern California’s Inland Empire.

Experience comprehensive, compassionate health care that’s close to home. To schedule your appointment, call 909-536-1493 or click here to use our online form.