Sleep Disorders

Definition

The four most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. Additional sleep problems include chronic insufficient sleep, circadian rhythm abnormalities, and “parasomnias” such as sleep walking, sleep paralysis, and night terrors.

Hispanics are the most likely to say they are kept awake by financial, employment, personal relationship and/or health-related concerns.
Overall, at least one-third of Hispanics (38%) and Blacks/African-Americans (33%) report that any of these concerns disturb their sleep at least a few nights a week, compared to about one-fourth of Whites (28%) and/or Asians (25%).

  • Moreover, about two in ten Hispanics (19%) and Blacks/African-Americans (19%) say their sleep is disturbed every night or almost every night by at least one of these concerns.
  • Hispanics (16%) are more likely than Blacks/African-Americans (12%), Asians (9%) and Whites (7%) to say that health-related concerns have disturbed their sleep at least a few nights a week.

Causes

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders, or certain drugs.

Symptoms

You may have a sleep disorder and should see your doctor if your sleep diary reveals any of the following:

•    Consistently do not get enough sleep, or get poor quality sleep;
•    Fall asleep while driving;
•    Struggle to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching television or reading;
•    Have difficulty paying attention or concen- trating at work, school, or home;
•    Have performance problems at work or school;
•    Are often told by others that you are sleepy;
•    Have difficulty remembering;
•    Have slowed responses;
•    Have difficulty controlling your emotions; or
•    Must take naps on most days.

Exams and Tests

Tests vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder.

Treatments

Treatments vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder.

Possible Complications

Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

See your health care provider if you think you have a sleep problem or a sleep disorder.

Preventions

Good sleep habits can help you get a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips:

•    Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Try not to take naps during the day because naps may make you less sleepy at night.

•    Try to avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can make you wake up later in the night.

•    Get regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for 3 hours before the time you go to sleep.

•    Don’t eat a big meal late in the day, although a light snack before bedtime may help you sleep.

•    Make your sleeping place comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a “white noise” machine to cover up the sounds.