Restless Legs Syndrome - The Management of a Serious Sleep DisorderWritten by Donald Saunders
Restless legs syndrome, or RLS, is seen as both a neuromuscular disorder and a sleep disorder. Less frequently diagnosed than sleep disorders like narcolepsy, sleep apnea and insomnia, restless legs syndrome is nonetheless a significant and serious sleep problem.
Characterized by a tingling, crawling or prickling sensation in legs and feet, restless legs syndrome sufferers experience an overwhelming desire to move their legs in order to find relief. Many sufferers also find that symptoms seem to worsen in late afternoon and evening, especially when sitting or lying down.
Restless legs syndrome can also include instances of periodic limb movement (PLM), a condition characterized by sudden, involuntary movement or twitching of legs and feet – often to extent that it disrupts sleep. It is overwhelming desire to move legs and frequent presences of periodic limb movement that, in large part, earn restless legs syndrome its classification as a sleep disorder.
Chronic instances of restless legs syndrome make it virtually impossible for sufferer to get to sleep, let alone stay asleep, thereby generating a related case of severe insomnia. If left untreated, condition, and resulting insomnia, can lead to severe physical and psychological health problems. In fact, restless legs syndrome is often associated with depression and irritability, as well as occupational, social and marital problems.
As with most common sleep disorders, diagnosing restless legs syndrome can take time and a proper diagnosis requires attention of an experienced medical professional. Because some of symptoms can be associated with other neuromuscular and sleep disorders, it is also important to undergo specialized sleep tests before a diagnosis is confirmed. These tests can include neurological evaluations, reflex tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as somnography (sleep pattern analysis).
Sleep Apnea - An Extremely Common and Dangerous Sleep DisorderWritten by Donald Saunders
Sleep apnea refers to a sleep disorder characterized by interruption of breathing during sleep, such that respiration stops for ten or more seconds, cutting off valuable oxygen supplies to brain. This interruption of body’s breathing cycle can recur hundreds of times each night, with potentially fatal results. Even more alarming, sleep apnea, most dangerous of all sleep disorders, also represents one of most commonly identified sleep disorders, affecting as many as eighteen million Americans each year.
This condition can be divided into two primary categories. “Central sleep apnea”, caused by a neurological malfunction in which brain somehow disrupts normal signal to breathe and “Obstructive sleep apnea”, characterized by excessive relaxation or collapse of muscles around windpipe, which in turn causes windpipe obstruction. Both forms involve frequent cessation of breathing and temporary suspension of oxygen supply to brain, putting sleep apnea sufferers at a significantly greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Diagnosing sleep apnea can be difficult. Snoring, one of most common symptoms associated with sleep apnea (resulting in many people referring to this as “the snoring disease”), often leads to an erroneous diagnosis of condition. In fact, snoring can be associated with a variety of other sleep disorders and conditions unrelated to sleep apnea.
When brain senses a lack of oxygen, as a result of an obstructed windpipe, it reacts by waking suffer sufficiently to start breathing again, often causing snoring or sometimes coughing. As a result, sleep apnea suffers enjoy a very poor quality of sleep and wake up feeling even more tired than before they went to bed.
Feelings of exhaustion, fatigue and an overwhelming desire to sleep during day, known as excessive daytime sleepiness, characterize sleep apnea; especially if seen in conjunction with other symptoms such as morning headaches, noticeable lethargy, loss of interest in sex, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating.
The ongoing exhaustion and physical fatigue brought on by undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can also lead to onset of serious psychological symptoms such as depression, irritability and changes in mood and behavior.