Sleep Disorders

Sleep Apnea (also called Sleep Disordered Breathing): Occurs when a person stops breathing while asleep, generally more than 10 times per hour and for longer than 10 seconds per occurrence. The problem is more common in men and in those who are overweight — especially in men with a collar size greater than 16 inches. This can lead to symptoms such as sleepiness during the day, lack of energy, memory problems and can manifest as a mood disorder. Patients with severe sleep apnea have greater incidences of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. They are also likely to get involved in motor vehicle accidents. A diagnosis of sleep apnea is made through a sleep study. The general treatment is a specialized sleep mask that applies pressure to the airways.

Children: In children, enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause poor sleep quality and result in symptoms that mimic Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The treatment is removal of the tonsils and adenoids.

Restless Leg Syndrome or Periodic Leg Movement Syndrome: This condition presents with a prickly sensation or cramps in the legs during evening hours as well as spontaneous kicking behavior.

REM Behavior Disorder (RBD): In the REM stage of sleep, the body normally experiences paralysis so that the dreamer does not act out his or her dreams. Those with REM Behavior Disorder (RBD) do not experience this paralysis. Patients with RBD dream about being chased, and can experience severe injuries after leaping out of bed while sleeping. This condition occurs in REM sleep, unlike sleepwalking during non-REM sleep. Patients with RBD may require a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis and may be treated with medication.

Narcolepsy: This is the most disabling sleep disorder of all. It can result in excessive sleepiness during the day. In severe cases, narcoleptic patients can fall asleep mid-conversation. Patients may even think they are hallucinating as dreams enter their waking moments. Narcoleptics are generally treated with medication.