Understanding Sleep Disordered Breathing
Symptoms of Hypersomnia
- Falling asleep inappropriately at work, during meals, during conversations
- Falling asleep while driving
- Loss of appetite
- Cognitive difficulties
Diagnosis of Hypersomnia
Diagnosis of hypersomnia involves both a physical examination and a psychological evaluation. Patients will be questioned regarding their sleep habits, their emotional well-being, and any medications or drugs they may be taking. The following tests may be administered to assess the root cause of the problem:
- Blood tests
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- Polysomnography (sleep test)
Symptoms of Insomnia
The main symptom of Insomnia is having difficulty falling or staying asleep, which leads to a lack of sleep. Some symptoms of insomnia include:
- Lying awake for a long time before you fall asleep
- Sleeping for only short periods
- Remaining awake for much of the night
- Feeling as if you haven’t slept at all
- Waking up too early
- The lack of sleep brought about by Insomnia can lead to other troubling symptoms. For example, it can make you feel irritable, anxious, depressed, and may lead to concentration difficulties. It can also cause other disturbances in daily activities, such as leading to drowsiness while driving, or at work or school.
Diagnosis of Insomnia
Talking with your doctor may help you find out what is causing your insomnia. He or she can rule out any medical causes and, for instance, tell you about the different treatment options.
If you have severe insomnia that’s robbing you of sleep, it may be a good idea to get tested at a sleep laboratory. These laboratories have rooms in which your sleep can be monitored for one or more nights. Instruments record various measurements which are used to monitor the different stages of sleep. This provides information about how long and how well you sleep, whether you get enough deep sleep and REM sleep, and whether you have a sleep disorder.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. The airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches your lungs. When this happens, you may snore loudly or making choking noises as you try to breathe. Your brain and body becomes oxygen deprived and you may wake up. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.
Symptoms of OSA
- Loud or frequent snoring
- Silent pauses in breathing
- Choking or gasping sounds
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Morning headaches
- Nocturia (waking during the night to go to the bathroom)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Decreased sexual desire
Diagnosis of OSA
A board certified sleep medicine physician can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea using an in-lab sleep study or a home sleep apnea test. A board-certified sleep physician has training and expertise in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.
The physician will need to know your symptoms, and whether they began when you gained weight or stopped exercising. If you can, ask a partner or roommate or relative if they have ever heard you snore loudly or make choking noises in your sleep.
You may also need to keep a sleep diary for two weeks.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Symptoms of RLS
- Irresistible urge to move, accompanied by uncomfortable sensations in lower limbs
- Sensations in their legs that may be described as aching throbbing, pulling, itching, crawling, or creeping.
- Having to pace around, constantly move legs while sitting, and toss and turn in bed.
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
Diagnosis of RLS
Since there is no specific test for RLS, the condition is diagnosed by a doctor’s evaluation.
A physician will focus largely on the individual’s descriptions of symptoms, their triggers and relieving factors, as well as the presence or absence of symptoms throughout the day. A neurological and physical exam, plus information from the person’s medical and family history and list of current medications, may be helpful. Individuals may be asked about frequency, duration, and intensity of symptoms; if movement helps to relieve symptoms; how much time it takes to fall asleep; any pain related to symptoms; and any tendency toward daytime sleep patterns and sleepiness, disturbance of sleep, or daytime function.
Circadian Rhythym Sleep Disorder
This category of disorders includes conditions in which the sleep times are out of alignment. A patient with one of these disorders does not follow the normal sleep times at night. Some Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders include:
- Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase
- Advanced Sleep-Wake Phase
- Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm
- Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm
- Shift Work
- Jet Lag
Psychiatric Disturbances and Sleep Disorders
Type of sleep disorder, prevalence, and impact vary by psychiatric diagnosis. But the overlap between sleep disorders and various psychiatric problems is so great that researchers have long suspected both types of problems may have common biological roots. Some psychiatric disorders that commonly affect sleep are:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders