Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are conditions that prevent a person from getting restful sleep and, as a result, can cause daytime sleepiness and dysfunction. Sleep disorders are common and at somepoint can lead to other serious health issues.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the flow of air pauses or decreases while you are asleep because the airway has become blocked or narrowed. It is typically caused by having a narrow throat area that does not easily let air pass by when throat muscles relax during sleep. While OSA is one of the most common and easily treated sleep disorders, it will many times remain undiagnosed.

Symptoms

People with sleep apnea may:

  • Act grumpy, impatient, or irritable
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fall asleep while working, reading, or watching TV
  • Have hard to treat headaches


Treatment

The goal of treatment is to keep the airway open so that breathing does not stop. Some patients can relieve symptoms by making lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol or sedatives at bedtime, losing weight, or even avoiding sleeping on his or her back. Continuous positive airway pressure therapy is typically the first treatment, and in severe cases, surgery may be needed.

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Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is characterized as an irritable feeling in the feet and legs around bedtime. Patients may also kick their legs as they sleep, which may disturb their sleep and that of the bed partner. While the cause is not known in most patients, it can be made worse by stress.

Symptoms

  • Usually occur at night when you lie down, or sometimes during the day when you sit for long periods of time
  • May be described as creeping, crawling, aching, pulling, searing, or tingling. The sensations may last for one hour or longer
  • May sometimes occur in the upper leg, feet, or arms


You will feel an irresistible urge to walk or move your legs, which almost always relieves the discomfort. Most patients have rhythmic leg movements during sleep hours, called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). All of these symptoms often disturb sleep. Symptoms can make it difficult to sit during air or car travel, or through classes or meetings. Symptoms may be worse during stress or emotional upset.

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Narcolepsy:

Narcolepsy is characterized as severe daytime sleepiness with “sleep attacks”. Some patients experience a sudden muscle weakness in response to an emotional stimulus. Narcolepsy symptoms usually first occur during ages 15 to 30.

Symptoms

Narcolepsy symptoms usually first occur during ages 15 to 30.

Symptoms may include:

  • Periods of extreme drowsiness during the day. You may feel a strong urge to sleep, often followed by a short nap (sleep attack).
  • Drowsiness usually occurs during activity or emotion, and goes away with rest or medicine called nitroglycerine
    • These periods last for about 15 minutes each, although they can be longer.
    • They may happen after eating, while driving, talking to someone, or during other situations.
    • Most often, you wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Dream-like hallucinations between sleep and wakefulness.
  • Sleep paralysis. This is when you cannot move as you start falling asleep or when you first wake up. It may last up to 15 minutes.
  • Cataplexy. This is a sudden loss of muscle tone while awake that makes you unable to move. Strong emotions, such as laughter or anger, can trigger this.
    • Most attacks last for less than 30 seconds and can be missed.
    • Your head will suddenly fall forward, your jaw will become slack, and your knees will buckle.
    • In severe cases, a person may fall and stay paralyzed for as long as several minutes.

While there is no known cure for narcolepsy, the goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms. Planning naps, eating light meals, and napping briefly after eating can help control symptoms. Prescription medications may also be needed to help you stay awake.

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Insomnia:

Insomnia is characterized as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Symptoms

  • Trouble falling asleep on most nights
  • Feeling tired during the day or falling asleep during the day
  • Not feeling refreshed when you wake up
  • Waking up several times during sleep

Occasionally, the more a person with insomnia tries to sleep, the more frustrated and upset they get, and the harder sleep becomes. A lack of restful sleep can affect your ability to conduct daily activities because you are tired or have trouble concentrating.

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Sleep Disorders

Our Sleep Studies

We proudly conduct our Sleep Studies at the Northside Hospital Sleep Disorder Center which is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and has four convenient locations in Atlanta, Cherokee, Forsyth, and Roswell. For more information please visit northside.com/sleep

Northside Hospital Sleep Disorder Center
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