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Sleep disorders

Sufficient sleep is essential to a healthy life: Sleep helps renew us mentally and physically. Poor sleep over long periods of time can cause or contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and/or diabetes – not to mention drowsy driving, which can result in serious car accidents.

The Sleep Disorders Center at Ryan Ranch is here to help. If you suspect you have any of the sleep problems listed below, ask your primary care physician for a referral. If you prefer to see a sleep disorders specialist prior to or after completing your sleep study, please call us at (831) 649-7210 for additional information.

Insomnia

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. It is characterized by having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or not feeling refreshed in the morning even though you had the opportunity to get a full night of sleep.

As many as 30 percent of adults complain of insomnia. It is more common in older adults, women, people under stress, and people with certain medical and mental health issues such as depression.

Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. The airway repeatedly becomes blocked, limiting the amount of air that reaches your lungs. When this happens, you may snore loudly or make choking noises as you try to breathe. Your brain and body become oxygen-deprived and you may wake up. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.

About 40 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. An estimated 95 percent — or 36 million Americans — remain undiagnosed and untreated.

Screening for obstructive sleep apnea

  • Do you snore?
  • Are you excessively tired during the day?
  • Have you been told you stop breathing during sleep?
  • Do you have a history of high blood pressure?
  • Is your neck size greater than 17 inches (male) or 16 inches (female)?

"Yes" to two (or more) of these questions means you may have OSA; talk to your doctor for a referral to the Sleep Disorders Center.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a lifelong sleep disorder that makes you feel overwhelmingly tired, and in severe cases, have sudden uncontrollable sleep attacks. Many people with narcolepsy do not know they have the sleep disorder.

About one in 2,000 people have some form of narcolepsy. Most cases are not genetic. The cause of narcolepsy is still unknown, but research suggests that some forms may be due to low levels of the neurotransmitter hypocretin, a chemical that regulates wakefulness.

Obesity hypoventilation

Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is a breathing disorder that affects some obese people. In OHS, poor breathing results in too much carbon dioxide (hypoventilation) and too little oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia). These changes can lead to serious health problems, such as swelling in the legs and high blood pressure.

Many people who have OHS also have obstructive sleep apnea.

Periodic limb movements in sleep

Periodic limb movements in sleep are repetitive movements, most typically in the lower limbs, that occur about every 20-40 seconds. These movements may be brief muscle twitches, jerking movements or an upward flexing of the feet. They cluster into episodes lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

The cause is unknown. It is not considered medically serious but can contribute to chronic insomnia and/or daytime fatigue because it  may cause awakenings during the night.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a similar, but more severe, condition that makes you have an overwhelming urge to move your legs, during the day as well as at night. People with RLS may have difficulty sitting for long periods of time. RLS also makes it difficult to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. The symptoms are usually worse at night. You may lie down and begin to feel burning or itching inside your legs. If you move your legs or get up and walk around, these symptoms may go away. The discomfort may return when you try again to go to sleep.

For more on information on sleep and sleep disorders, please refer to SleepEducation.com, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine web site.