Sleep disorders are a highly common medical issue that affects millions of Americans each year. While some people suffer from mild sleeping problems, such as the occasional nightmare, others have extremely severe sleep disorders that can negatively affect their health if left untreated.

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for feeling refreshed and alert during the day Did you know that the average adult needs eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night in order to maintain optimal mental and physical health? Unfortunately, not everyone is able to get the restorative eight hours they need. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, over 40 million Americans a year will suffer from some sort or sleep disorder - many whom will go undiagnosed, or turn to over-the-counter sleep aids for relief. However, ignoring the underlying causes, or covering the symptoms with drugs usually makes the problem worse.

The disorder affects mostly people who are middle-aged or older and strikes once they settle down for the night, forcing them to get up and walk to relieve the discomfo9rt, sometimes for as long as two hours. In some people, the sensation moves from itching, burning and discomfort to outright pain.

Types of Sleep Disorders

Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where the person will stop breathing, or the breathing becomes very shallow. This disorder can be life threatening. With sleep apnea, the pause in breathing can be anywhere from 10 - 20 seconds or longer and can occur anywhere from 20 - 30 times in an hour. There are actually three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central & mixed.

Disturbed Sleep: Sleep apnea is interrupted breathing during sleep. It usually occurs because of a mechanical problem in the windpipe, but it also can indicate a neurological disorder involving nerve cells (neurons). As people age, muscle tone relaxes, which may cause the windpipe to collapse. This condition, called obstructive sleep apnea, results in loud snoring and blocked air flow through the windpipe that lasts from 10 to 60 seconds. It may appear that the person is gasping or snorting.

Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder where a person will have trouble staying awake. When someone has narcolepsy, they will just suddenly fall asleep - in the middle of whatever they are doing. This is a very dangerous sleep disorder to have - for the person with the problem and for others around them. People with narcolepsy will have sleep attacks even after getting a full night’s sleep. They will fall asleep while driving, walking, cooking, etc.

Skipping meals during the day could cause insomnia. Researchers found that people who skip meals are more likely to have night eating syndrome.these people wake up in the middle of the night, without realizing it, and eat 25% or more of their calories. This is similar to sleepwalking, but with eating added in.

Pets and outdoor animals are the biggest offenders of causing a poor nights sleep. A dog that barks all night long can interrupt anyone's sleep. For the person with a sleeping disorder it means remaining awake for the rest of the night. It is recommended that you keep all of your windows closed to ensure the best you get as much sleep as possible.

Hpynic jerks can also cause sleeplessness. Cramps or twitchy limbs can cause the sufferer to repeatedly awaken during the night. Hypnic jerks or restless legs syndrome (RLS) may ease when the sufferer is less tense, usually in the early hours.

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