Sleep Disorders: causes, diagnosis, and treatments

March 25, 2021

When your normal sleep patterns are disturned frequently, you are said to be suffering from a sleep disorder. Surprisingly, there are 80 different types of sleep disorders. The major ones are:

  • Insomnia: the most common and well-known of all sleep disorders. You are unable to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Sleep apnea: This can also be considered a breathing disorder, where you completely stop breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS): a tingling or itchy sensation in your legs while sleeping, also accompanied by an urge to move around continuously.
  • Hypersomnia: not able to stay awake during the day. It also narcolepsy - extreme daytime sleepiness
  • Circadian rhythm disorders: Irregular sleep-wake cycles. This means that you are incapable of sleeping and waking some at the right times. The 'biological clock' gets disrupted
  • Parasomnia: unusual activities while asleep, like waking in the middle, walking, talking or even eating

What causes sleep disorders?

There are a number of causes:
  • Serious medical conditions/diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, nerve disorders, and joint pain
  • Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety
  • Side effects of certain medicines
  • Genetics

But according to the best neurology hospital in Bangalore, there can be times when the exact cause might be unclear.

Some other factors that can also cause sleep problems are:

  • Excessive Caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • An irregular or unnatural schedule, such as working the night shift

How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

The diagnosis includes a physical exam and getting a detailed medical history as well as getting to know all the symptoms. There can also be certain tests involved:

  • Polysomnography (PSG): Done in a lab, it studies oxygen levels, body movements, and brainwaves to evaluate how they disrupt sleep in comparison to home sleep study (HST), that you perform on your own at your home and then this information is used to diagnose sleep apnea.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): Studies the electrical activity in the brain and detects problems, if any. It’s also a part of polysomnography.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): Done to diagnose narcolepsy, this is a daytime sleep study used in conjunction with a PSG at night.

What are the treatments for sleep disorders?

Treatments differ according to the type of sleep disorder. Options for sleep disorder treatment in Bangalore include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy or relaxation techniques will help in reducing anxiety caused by worrying about getting enough sleep
  • For sleep apnea, the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is used
  • Bright light therapy (conducted in the morning)
  • One of the common treatments in medicines, including sleeping pills. However, doctors advise taking sleeping pills only for a short span of time, to avoid dependency/addiction
  • If your sleep problems are because of voluntary, poor habits, then good sleep habits and other lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and exercise will do the trick

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