Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing during sleep is not normal. In more severe forms, a person will have episodes where there is complete absence of breathing (apnea). Even though there are frequent, brief awakenings from sleep in order to re-start breathing, the person with sleep apnea is usually unaware of the problem.
Sleep apnea will include some combination of the following: snoring, gasping, difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking (often to go to the bathroom), restless sleep, excessive tiredness or sleepiness in the day. Since sleep apnea can contribute to potentially serious medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, evaluation of possible sleep apnea may be warranted even if the person does not feel that he or she has any problems with poor sleep or tiredness. The complete evaluation of sleep apnea usually involves a sleep test
, which plays a role in the treatment decision-making process.
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, or experiencing sleep that is not good quality. Many people with this disorder have some combination of the above, which leads to problems with daytime functioning. There are many factors that contribute to insomnia. Poor sleep habits, medicine side effects, medical conditions, difficulty with excessive thinking in bed, and stress, are just a few of the possibilities. After a thorough evaluation, patients with insomnia gain a better understanding of why they are not able to sleep.
Individualized treatment plans may include medications (sleeping pills) and/or cognitive-behavioral treatment (ways to improve the way you sleep that are not related to medications).
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome is a common disorder where a person will feel some discomfort in the legs that makes that person want to move, wiggle, stretch, or massage the leg until the feeling goes away. It is most noticed during periods of rest in the evening or night, and has the possibility of interfering with sleep quality.
Narcolepsy is a disorder in which a person experiences severe sleepiness in the day, sometimes to the point where sleep seems irresistible. One symptom that is highly suggestive of narcolepsy is "cataplexy," a sudden, brief episode of muscle weakness that is usually triggered by an emotion such as laughter. The muscles involved are usually those in the legs or the jaw.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Shift work sleep disorder is an increasing problem in which sleep is disturbed due to the fact that a person has to work during hours in which he or she would otherwise be asleep. The most severe case of this is for the "graveyard" or "night" shift. However, even people who have to wake up very early to beat the traffic or "swing" shift workers who get home late at night can have significant problems with their ability to sleep and function at their best while awake.
In some ways, the definition of "shift work" can be expanded even to include many teenagers, who may have a tendency to stay up late, but struggle to wake up in the morning for school. Another example of this sleep disorder occurs when a person has to travel to other time zones and has to adjust quickly. Freeman can provide assessment and solutions for these kinds of challenges.
Sleepwalking and other sleep-related behaviors are called parasomnias. People who experience parasomnias are often the last to know what they are doing while asleep. However, these behaviors may have negative consequences. Some people can be violent towards their bed-partners, whereas others may binge eat. Many children may "outgrow" sleepwalking, but if it occurs very frequently or persists beyond a certain age, evaluation for the cause and possible treatment is needed.
Freeman Sleep Center
931 E. 32nd St.
Joplin, Missouri 64804