Alaska Sleep Education Center

What is a Sleep Disorder? How Can I tell if I Have One?

Posted by Mauricio Reinoso, MD on Mar 12, 2015 4:01:00 PM

What is a sleep disorder.

Nearly everybody experiences trouble sleeping occasionally. These interruptions to our normal sleeping patterns are often caused by stress, illness, or other outside factors. During times of sleep trouble we often feel tired during the day, sluggish at work or school, have a heightened sense of anxiety, and may even be a little distracted or have trouble concentrating.

Most of these symptoms tend to disappear after a night of two of refreshing sleep, as our sleep patterns return back to normal. Unfortunately for a number of people, sleep troubles are a nightly occurrence that greatly impacts their everyday lives. For these people, it's very likely that they may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

What is a Sleep Disorder?

Sleep disorders are a group of syndromes characterized by disturbance in a person's amount of sleep, quality or timing of sleep, or in behaviors or physiological conditions associated with sleep.

To qualify for the diagnosis of a sleep disorder the condition must be a persistent problem and cause significant interference to a person's daily life.

There are over 70 recognized sleep disorders that are broken down into 6 major categories:

Symptoms of sleep disorders vary, and classifying disorders is dependent on the symptoms and root causes of the problems.

Many sleep disorders have excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) as one of the primary symptoms. With many sleep disorders, patients complain of feeling excessively tired during the day as a result of little sleep, frequent interruptions during sleep, or overall poor quality of sleep.

And with other sleep disorders, patients may not even realize that there is a problem with their sleep because they believe they get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Many of these people are only made aware of a sleep disorder by concerned bed-partners who recognize their sleep troubles, or by other symptoms that they experience during the day.

How to tell if you have a sleep disorder

hypersomnia-sleep-disorderIf you think you may have a sleep disorder, it's best to discuss your symptoms and concerns with your primary care physician.

Some common questions that your doctor might ask are:

  • Do you snore?

  • Have you ever been told you stop breathing or gasp in your sleep?

  • Do you feel sleepy during the daytime?

  • Do you have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching TV, or reading?

  • Do you fall asleep or feel tired while driving?

  • Has difficulty concentrated or focusing during the day?

  • Do you require caffeine to stay awake during the day?

  • Does leg restlessness keep you awake?

  • Do you feel like your sleep is restful such that you feel restored in the morning?

  • Do you have asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems?

  • Do you have high blood pressure or take medicine for that problem?

  • Have you ever had heart problems or heart disease?

  • Have you had congestive heart failure?

  • Have you had a stroke?

  • What is your height, weight, neck circumference?
  • Do you have insomnia?

Answering yes to some of these questions can be a strong indicator of a sleep disorder. However, for sleep disorders to be properly evaluated, a sleep study is required to not only diagnose sleep disorders but also rule out other potential causes of sleep problems.

If you're ready to finally get to the bottom of your sleep troubles, contact your primary care physician and discuss with them your symptoms and concerns. If you live in Alaska and want to have a sleep study performed, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic by clicking the link below to receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with one of our sleep educators.

Finally - Sleep Consultation

Topics: sleep disorders

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