There are many other sleep disorders that lead to difficulty sleeping and the consequences of sleep deprivation, including grogginess during the day and health risks.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, according to the ASA. It refers to trouble falling or staying asleep, or the tendency to wake up too early in the morning – in other words it is an inability to sleep properly. About 1 in 10 adults have chronic, or secondary, insomnia, while 3 in 10 have acute insomnia. You may be able to overcome acute insomnia with behavior changes, such as better sleep hygiene. Chronic insomnia might require medical evaluation, and often intervention to treat the underlying cause.
The partner of someone with sleep apnea may know it as an annoying, loud nighttime nuisance, but the truth is that sleep apnea can be dangerous. With sleep apnea, the flap of tissue at the back of your throat can close and stop breathing for seconds or longer. Your brain is notified to wake up so you can resume breathing. This can happen many times per night and prevent you from getting the rest you need. You are likely to be exhausted all the time.
Up to 1 in 5 women have sleep apnea, and 1 in 3 or 4 men have it. Since obesity is a major cause, losing weight can help. Also, a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine to hold open your airways is a common treatment.
Narcolepsy may seem comical if you hear about it from someone else, but it is anything but funny if you experience it. It is a sleep-wake disorder in which you have trouble staying awake for normal periods of time. Instead, you might nod off in the middle of the day, even while engaged in activities such as talking to people. Other symptoms include cataplexy, or loss of muscle control, leading to trouble moving or speaking, and hallucinations, since you might have dreams as you are just falling asleep or waking up.
There is no cure for narcolepsy. Your doctor might prescribe medications, such as stimulants to keep you awake. At home, you can improve your sleep hygiene, such as having a regular bedtime and pre-bed routine, and being sure to get enough exercise during the day.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Legs Syndrome
Periodic limb movement disorder, or PLMD, and restless legs syndrome, or RLS, are two distinct sleep disorders, but most people with RLS also have PLMD. In PLMD, your legs may cramp and move periodically, which disrupts sleep and can make you tired during the day. In RLS, you may have an urge to move your legs just before you fall asleep, which can make it nearly impossible to get enough rest.
They can have unknown causes, or can be caused by medications or conditions including diabetes and anemia. Medications to relax muscles can sometimes help. Other relaxation techniques that could help with RLS include leg massages and application of ice packs to your legs.