The certified physicians and specialized staff at Community Health Network's fully accredited sleep/wake disorder centers are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. The full service center offers both expertise and understanding to help patients who experience sleep-related difficulties.
Common sleep problems include sleep apnea/snoring, insomnia, restless legs syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) and narcolepsy.
Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing for a period of ten seconds or more. It is characterized by snoring or choking/gasping for breath during sleep, daytime sleepiness and morning headaches. An estimated ten million people have sleep apnea, although only two million seek treatment. The occurrence of sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. In fact, 60% of patients with impaired cardiac function suffer from sleep-related breathing disorders. The condition is treatable, and the treatment can reduce the risks associated with sleep apnea. The two most common types of sleep apnea are obstructive (upper airway) and central sleep apnea.
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The inability to go to sleep or stay asleep happens to everyone at some time, but if it occurs consistently, it could be a serious problem. The National Sleep Foundation's "Sleep in America" survey reported that 56% of Americans have experienced insomnia a few nights a week, but only half of those people are being treated. Insomnia primarily occurs in individuals who are under a moderate amount of stress, work long hours, travel a lot or suffer from depression or pain. Those with insomnia who do not seek treatment are more likely to have psychiatric problems, high blood pressure and trouble with memory and logical reasoning.
Restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movement disorder
It is estimated that more than 35% of the population over age 65 suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS) or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). RLS is characterized by discomfort or pain in the legs especially when lying down or trying to sleep. It can lead to sleep disruptions such as tossing and turning or pacing. PLMD is the movement or twitching of the legs during sleep that can sometimes awaken the individual. Family history, age and stress are all factors in RLS and PLMD. These conditions respond well to medical treatment. If left untreated, they can lead to exhaustion and strained relationships.
Narcolepsy occurs when the brain doesn't accurately interpret when to sleep and when to be awake. It is due to the lack of a chemical that regulates sleep and can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, weakness or collapse, intense emotion and vivid or scary dreams when falling asleep. Narcolepsy can cause difficulties at home, school, work and in social situations. It affects an estimated 200,000 Americans. There are many treatment options available that can improve alertness and the ability to resume an active lifestyle.
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Other sleep disorders
While sleep apnea, insomnia, periodic leg movements and continuous agonizing drowsiness account for 95% of all sleep disorders, others do exist. Among them are parasomnias (e.g., sleepwalking and talking, sleep paralysis, night terrors, bruxism/teeth grinding) and poor sleep hygiene/sleep habits. Talk with your physician or a sleep professional if you are concerned about one of these disorders.
General warning signs and symptoms that may indicate a sleep disorder:
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Memory loss
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Restless sleep
- Poor judgment/concentration
- Morning headaches
- Congestive heart failure
- Attention deficit disorder
- Sexual dysfunction