Years of sleep studies have shown that the average adult between the ages of 18 and 64 needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night in order to maintain optimal health. And while this is the recommended nighty allotment of sleep for nearly all adults, not many of us achieve this hourly sleep regimen each night.
The fact is, many people all across the country and the world have trouble falling asleep. And while this might be due to environmental factors, overstimulation, work schedule, and the like, many of us have bonafide sleep disorders.
Sleep disorders are much more common than many people realize. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder of some type.
In this post, we’ll discuss three of the most common sleep disorders that affect human beings.
By far, the most common sleep disorder is insomnia; the persistent inability to fall asleep or remain asleep. It’s estimated that 1 out of 10 adults suffers from some form of insomnia, ranging from mild to severe.
While napping during the day has been related to isolated bouts of insomnia, which nearly every adult experiences at least once in a lifetime, the root causes of insomnia ranges widely.
Insomnia has been linked to everything from watching too much TV to drinking too much (or too little) water before going to bed. And treatments have ranged from taking sleeping aids to hypnosis. Though the field is still developing hypotheses and conducting sleep studies, the underlying causes which affect one’s inability to fall asleep are still largely up to interpretation.
In fact, insomnia has also been linked to narcolepsy in some cases, which is the inability to remain awake and alert throughout the day.
The second most common sleep disorder is known as sleep apnea, which is indicated by interrupted breathing which may abruptly stop during sleep.
This is a frightening and potentially dangerous sleep disorder that if not treated can be fatal, though in mostly rare and severe cases.
Sleep apnea is characterized by two distinct forms. The first is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when muscles in the throat cause blockage of airflow, and this is the more common form of the disorder. The second is known as central sleep apnea (CSA), which is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to the muscles during sleep.
Sleep apnea patients frequently wake during sleep when the air supply is cut off. This condition has been treated with a variety of medications and medical apparatuses, and is most commonly associated with CPAP devices.
CPAP devices allow for regulated airflow while sleeping, but lately, the devices have come under scrutiny as some manufacturers have used adhesives and foams in production which have CPAP devices linked to cancer development. Patients are currently seeking justice in this matter.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS, is characterized by the urge to move or shake the legs when still for longer durations. This condition tends to become exacerbated at night and has been linked to sleep disorders.
While RLS is thought largely to be more of a neurological disorder, it mostly affects people during idle time periods when the body is sitting or resting. However, as it commonly affects sleep patterns, it’s recognized as the third most common sleep disorder.
Those who suffer from RLS, like every other sleep disorder patient, report days of having difficulty concentrating, moodiness, and a general state of lethargy which can affect performance at work and in every other activity which requires focus.
Sleep disorders are no laughing matter. In fact, prolonged states of poor sleep can have drastic physiological and mental consequences over time. While sleep remedies are still being studied and experimentation is still ongoing, the fact remains that nearly a third of the population of the United States suffers from some form of sleep disorder.