The definition of a sleep disorder from a clinical point of view is, a disruptive pattern of sleep that may
include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep
time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep. Doctors and specialists who study sleep have identified
approximately one hundred different types of common sleep disorders.
Sleep problems are broken down into four categories as delineated by the International Classification of Sleep
Disorders. These categories are -
Medical or Psychiatric disorders
Proposed Sleep Disorders
These four main categories are further broken down into various sub categories.
Examples of Dyssomnias include a variety of sub categories including -
Bruxism - The involuntary grinding of teeth whilst sleeping
Medical or Psychiatric Disorders
Medical or Psychiatric sleep disorders include -
Degenerative brain disorders
Proposed Sleep Disorders
Proposed sleep disorders are disorders that do not fit in any of the preceding three categories and include
Sub Wakefulness Syndrome
Sleep Choking Syndrome
There are many myths that surround sleep and sleep disorders which need to be dispelled.
It is a myth that health problems such as diabetes, depression, hypertension, obesity, etc. have no connection
whatsoever to how much sleep or the quality of sleep that a person gets on a regular basis.
Research has proven time and again that there is a very real connection between a bad quality of sleep and/or
inadequate sleep due to any number of diseases. To use an example, a lack of sleep can inhibit the ability of the
body to properly manufacture insulin, thereby bringing on diabetes.
It is a common myth that as you age you require less sleep to function properly. This is not exactly the case.
As a general recommendation, seven to nine hours sleep a night is best for most adults, whether they be twenty or
fifty although the sleep patterns of people can become different as they get older. However older people may
actually get less sleep per night than younger adults because they wake up more often during the night.
Yet another myth is that you can somehow cheat on the quantity of sleep you are getting. It can be adverse to
your health and well being both physically and mentally to skimp on your hours of sleep. You cannot save up your
sleep for days when you have more time to sleep in. An average of seven to nine hours a night is advisable.
Most people would class insomnia as simply a problem with falling asleep but this is not the case. Insomnia is
more complex condition than that and is associated with four specific symptoms -
Difficulty getting to sleep
Waking up too early in the morning and not being able to fall back to sleep
Frequent moments of waking up during the night
Feeling of being tired or somehow not refreshed a from a nights sleep
Many people believe that only their brain is at rest while they are sleeping but this is certainly not the case.
It is the body that rests during sleep while the brain is very much active. During sleep the brain is recharging
its batteries and still very much in control of the majority of bodily functions, including breathing. As we sleep
we go back and forth between two states of sleep which are -
REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep
NREM or Non Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
Another myth that could also prove deadly, is that sleep deprivation will not affect a persons ability to
operate a motor vehicle. It is estimated that out of approximately 567,000 car accidents in the United States every
year, 980 of those highway deaths are related to sleep deprivation.
Doing such things as opening the window, turning on the air conditioner or turning up the radio are only stop
gap measures to help keep you awake and alert at the wheel. If you refuse to stop and rest your body eventually
your mind will block out the things you have done to stay awake and you will fall asleep at the wheel. This could
cost you your life and others as well.