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Sleep problems

Sleep and sleep disorders

Getting enough sleep is important. It affects your physical and mental health.

Too little sleep (even 1 hour too little each night) can create a "sleep debt." If the debt becomes too great, problems may result.

Too little sleep can lower your performance, concentration and reaction time. Too little sleep can cause:

  • accidents and injuries
  • behavior problems
  • physical problems
  • mood changes
  • memory lapses.

If you feel drowsy during the day or if you fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Causes of sleep disorders

Common causes of sleep disorders include:

  • use of caffeine, decongestants or other stimulants
  • alcohol use
  • smoking
  • not taking the time to sleep
  • poor sleep hygiene.

Although there are more than 80 types of sleep disorders, the most common include: sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder and narcolepsy.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2009

Insomnia

If you have insomnia, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early in the morning. This leaves you feeling unrefreshed in the morning and tired, irritated and drained of energy the next day.

Insomnia happens to everyone once in a while. Insomnia that occurs most nights for at least 1 month often needs treatment.

Who is at risk for insomnia?
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
What causes insomnia?
How do you find out of you have insomnia?
How is insomnia treated?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2009

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a disorder in which you sleep well at night, but also have extreme sleepiness during the day. You may fall asleep at inappropriate times (such as driving). These sleep attacks can occur without warning.

Who is at risk for narcolepsy?
What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?
How do you find out if you have narcolepsy?
How is narcolepsy treated?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 01/26/2011

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)

Many people who have restless leg syndrome (RLS) have a related disorder called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). It affects the legs and arms but only occurs when you are sleeping.

People who have PLMD don't always know they have it. Involuntary movements or jerking may result in kicking a bed partner. Another sign is bedding may be found tangled in the morning. Movements like this can occur all night, but occur most often in the first half.

Who is at risk for PLMD?
How do you find out if you have PLMD?
How is PLMD treated?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2009

Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes you to have unpleasant feelings in your legs. You may feel sensations such as creeping, itching, crawling or pulling. These sensations can be painful and often occur in the evening when you are lying down.

RLS may affect one or both legs and it may affect your arms as well. The sensations are worse when you lie or sit for long stretches of time. This includes sitting at a desk or in a car, or lying down.

Usually, the symptoms go away when you walk, exercise, stretch or rub your legs. Symptoms get worse when you are relaxed. You may have problems falling asleep. Once you do, you probably sleep better at the end of the night or in the morning. As a result, you feel sleepy during the day.

Who is at risk for RLS?
What are the symptoms of RLS?
What causes RLS?
How do you find out if you have RLS?
How is RLS treated?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2009

Sleep apnea

Apnea is a Greek word meaning "want of breath." Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which you stop breathing while asleep. Your airway narrows or collapses during breathing, blocking air flow. When this happens, your lungs can't take in oxygen or breathe out carbon dioxide. This can last 10 seconds or longer.

Your brain responds to the falling oxygen levels by waking you enough to tighten the upper airway muscles and open your airway. You may snort or gasp and continue trying to breathe. This can happen more than 100 times per hour each night.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when air cannot flow into or out of your nose or mouth. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn't send the right signals to your breathing muscles.
Who is at risk for sleep apnea?
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
How is sleep apnea found?
How is sleep apnea treated?
How can sleep apnea be prevented?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sleep Disorders, neuro-ahc-21532 (5/09)

Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Statistics from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2009

Snoring

Snoring is caused by a vibration of tissues in your throat from air passing through as you breath in. This occurs because the airway is not fully open, and air is forced through a narrow passage. This causes a blockage of the airway. The tissues then vibrate, making a snoring sound.

The loudness of the snore is affected by how much air is going through the passage. The smaller the passage is, the harder it is to breath in air, and the snoring becomes louder.

About 10 to 30 percent of all adults snore. Most people do not have a medical condition causing their snoring. However, about five out of 100 people could possibly have a life threatening disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (your breathing stops or gets very shallow while you are sleeping).

Who is at risk for snoring?
How do you prevent or reduce snoring?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Snoring, gen-ahc-14208 (9/04)
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 09/01/2004
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2004