Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep problems are extremely common and affect everybody at least once in their life. According to the National Center on Sleep Disorder Research, “About 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems; among them, nearly 60 percent have a chronic disorder.”
The most common sleep disorder is sleep apnea. People who have sleep apnea stop breathing during their sleep due to a blocked airway. The blockage forces the person to wake up momentarily to begin breathing again. This cycle repeats itself continuously throughout the entire night of sleep. Seeing your doctor and possibly getting a referal to a sleep lab or a dentist who specializes in treating the physical and dental aspects of sleep disorders can help you minimize your apnea, get a better, more restful sleep, and eliminate any negative health effects that result from sleep apnea.
The second most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Insomnia, which is characterized by the inability to sleep, causes sleep disturbances for lots of people every year. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, and about 10-15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia. Insomnia can present as it’s own sleep disorder or it can be a symptom of another sleep disorder, or even a health issue or condition that is not related to sleep. Read more about insomnia here.
According to the doctors and dentists who specialize in treating people with sleep related problems, there are over 100 types of sleep disorders. Aside from sleep apnea and insomnia, other common sleep disorders include: narcolepsy, sleep walking, sleep paralysis, sleep deprivation, REM sleep disorder, and Restless Legs Syndrome. Many of these sleep disorders can be easily treated with medications or in many cases an oral appliance may be all that is necessary to control the sleep disorder symptoms.
If you are having trouble sleeping and think you may be suffering from a sleep disorder you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will probably ask you some questions about your sleep habits to determine what may be causing your sleep problems. It is estimated that between 9-12% of Americans experience insomnia due simply to poor sleeping habits. As a preliminary measure in the evaluation of your sleep disorder you should try to establish a regular sleep schedule. Try to discipline yourself to go to sleep at the same time each night and also to wake up from sleep at a consistent time each morning. As a general rule adults should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. If getting onto a normal sleep routine is not possible for you, or does not seem to alleviate your sleep problems than your doctor will likely pursue further investigation to accurately diagnose your sleep disorder.