World Sleep day 2020: Five common sleeping problems and how to identify them

There are several causes for the sleep deprivation that demand medical attention. Even excess sleeping in itself is a sleeping disorder.

Myupchar March 13, 2020 13:53:12 IST
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World Sleep day 2020: Five common sleeping problems and how to identify them

World Sleep Day is organised by the World Sleep Society every year on the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox - which is March 13 this year. The day is dedicated to spreading awareness about all aspects of sleep including the importance of getting good sleep, sleep medicines and social aspects of sleep problems. Through this spread of information, the World Sleep Organisation aims to reduce the global burden of sleep disorders.

World Sleep day 2020 Five common sleeping problems and how to identify them

Representational image. Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

The theme of this year’s World Sleep Day is 'better sleep, better lives, better planet'.

Millions of people complain about not getting enough sleep. More often than not, stress is the main culprit. However, there are several causes for the sleep deprivation that demand medical attention. Even excess sleeping in itself is a sleeping disorder. 

Here are five of the most commonly seen sleep disorders and ways you can identify them.

1. Insomnia

Insomnia is a condition in which a person is unable to fall asleep and stay asleep for a certain period of time and finds it difficult to wake up early in the morning for a minimum of 3 nights/week for at least 1 month (primary insomnia). Primary insomnia usually has no underlying health condition. It generally occurs due to stress and disruption of sleep schedule.

Secondary insomnia occurs as a side effect of an underlying health condition such as arthritis, stroke, overactive thyroid, or as a side effect of certain medications.

Regardless of the type, insomniacs have low energy levels. They lack concentration and are hence less productive. Insomnia often leads to anxiety and depression.

2. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is characterised by excessive daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, drowsiness and sleep paralysis. While the exact cause of narcolepsy remains unknown, it may show up as an autoimmune disorder, because of genetic factors (less common) or as a result of a brain injury (rarely). Autoimmune disorders are those that occur when your immune system starts to act against healthy cells of the body. In the case of narcolepsy, it is claimed that the immune cells attack the hypocretin-containing brain cells. These cells are responsible for maintaining the sleep-wake cycle.

3. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

OSA is a condition in which the patient temporarily stops breathing during sleep - at least 5 times every hour for about ten seconds each. These pauses in breathing lead to a drop in the levels of oxygen in the blood. As a result, the person tends to wake up several times during the night. Obesity is one of the major causes of OSA. However, OSA can also occur due to certain endocrine disorders (those that affect hormones), large tonsils and kidney or heart failure.

4. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease (WED)

Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition in which the patient gets a strong and irresistible urge to move their legs. The symptoms most commonly show up in the evening and while resting. As a result, the person finds it difficult to fall asleep. RLS is often seen in patients of Parkinson’s disease although the cause is not yet known. If you have a family history of RLS, it is highly likely that you will get it too. Some other causes of restless leg syndrome include pregnancy, caffeine, alcohol, certain medications, and iron deficiency. 

5. Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)

PMLD may look quite similar to RLS when it comes to the common signs and symptoms. However, unlike restless leg syndrome, where the symptoms show up when the person is awake, a PMLD patient jerks their leg/s during sleep at a regular interval of 5 to 90 seconds. The patient generally does not know about the condition and often the bed partner describes the symptoms. If you have this condition, you would feel as if you didn’t get enough sleep at night and as a result would be sleepy during the day. 

Read our Tips for better sleep for more detailed information.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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