Any condition that creates daytime drowsiness puts you at risk for mistakes and accidents. Every year, more than 100,000 traffic accidents are attributed to sleepy drivers. In addition to causing daytime drowsiness, disorders such as sleep apnea can also raise blood pressure and put you at greater risk for developing heart disease. Common sleep disorders include:
Sleep Apnea & Snoring ■ Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by stopped or slowed breathing during sleep. When breathing stops, you wake up, which causes sleep to become fragmented and less restful. Patients with sleep apnea often snore and may suffer from daytime drowsiness and morning headaches. Sleep apnea and snoring often disrupt your partner’s sleep.
Insomnia ■ The inability to fall asleep or stay asleep affects almost everyone at some time. According to National Sleep Foundation surveys, more than half of America experiences insomnia a few times each week, leading to daytime drowsiness, poor concentration and depression.
Restless Legs ■ Characterized by a discomfort that is temporarily relieved by movement, restless leg syndrome can disrupt normal sleep and lead to daytime drowsiness. Bed partners may complain of kicking movements during sleep.
Parasomnias ■ (Sleepwalking and Sleep Terrors) Parasomnias are sleep disturbances that cause unwanted physical activity, such as sleepwalking, night terrors, and eating while asleep. Treatment is especially important if the incidents are frequent or could cause harm to the individual or others.
Narcolepsy ■ Narcolepsy is a very rare but often debilitating sleep disorder characterized by “sleep attacks” that can strike unexpectedly at any time. Anyone who cannot control the timing of sleep or who experiences cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone) should seek treatment.