Updated: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 11:30:24 GMT | By Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, mDhil

Sleep disorders – Types and symptoms

Sleep disorders are a common problem nowadays. Many factors can interfere with sleep, but the disorders that we are talking about are seriously taxing and hamper the quality of life.


Sleep disorders – Types and symptoms

Sleep disorders are a common problem nowadays. Many factors can interfere with sleep, but the disorders that we are talking about are seriously taxing and hamper the quality of life.

Insomnia

This is the most common disorder related to sleep and can be transient or brief (related to an anxious time) or persistent. In insomnia, the patient complains of inability to fall asleep or to maintain sleep. Insomnia may be primary (if there are no other medical problems causing it) or secondary to various medical and psychiatric illnesses. Diabetes mellitus, infections and even cancer can lead to insomnia. Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are psychiatric conditions causing insomnia.

Restless legs syndrome

This syndrome is said to run in families, but the cause is not clear. The person complains of a pricking, pulling or tingling sensation in the legs or other parts of the body while awake and also while sleeping. The person feels better on moving his body, but this interferes with sleep so sleep gets disturbed. Restless legs syndrome may be related to iron deficiency, nerve problems or kidney failure, so your doctor should rule out these serious illnesses. It can occur at any age and gets worse with age. This condition also disturbs the sleep of the person’s partner.

Periodic limb movement disorder

This disorder is characterised by cramping or jerking movements that occur only during sleep. It may occur along with other sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome but the two are different and should not be confused.

Bruxism or teeth grinding

Bruxism or teeth grinding affects nearly 5-10 per cent of the population. It occurs during sleep and the person may be unaware of the teeth grinding but it may disturb the partner or a family member. If it occurs occasionally it is harmless but if it occurs over a period of time it will lead to a sore jaw, loosening of teeth, wear and tear of the teeth and a dull headache. Bruxism has to be treated with dental appliances like bridges, caps, partial and even total dentures.

In the next article, we will discuss about somnambulism, circadian rhythm sleep disorder, breathing related disorders and more.

Photograph via sxc.hu

Written by Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, General Physician

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