Top Reasons to Visit a Sleep Specialist

man asleepA sleep specialist is an expert in medicine, who has been specially trained in sleep disorders. There are about 88 sleep disorders, but sleep specialists mainly focus on the top five, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Periodic Limb Movements

About 33% of the population suffers from some form of insomnia at any given time. While just about everyone has occasional problems with sleep, sleep disorders are specific health issues that have their own diagnostic criteria and tend to last for months or even years.

When Is It Time to See a Sleep Specialist?

Sleep disorders have a profound effect on quality of life. They can make you feel unfocused and tired throughout the day. They can even contribute to more severe systemic health problems. This is because your body uses sleep to clean up cellular damage from daily activities. Healthy sleep helps ensure that the various organs of the body can effectively work in concert, too.

Many people have never been to a sleep specialist, however, and might not recognize the signs to look for. If you have symptoms consistent with a major sleep disorder on a regular basis for more than two weeks, it is a good idea to seek some professional help.

Here’s what to look out for with the major sleep disorders:

Insomnia

Insomnia can be caused by temporary emotional upset – such as mourning or worrying about a project at work. However, many people who suffer from chronic anxiety also have insomnia. There are several other potential causes for chronic insomnia a doctor could diagnose.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is disturbed or disrupted during sleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which happens when soft tissue somewhere in the airway blocks the flow of air once the body has relaxed into the sleep state. This can cause periods of micro-alertness and snoring. Severe cases of OSA can be dangerous, especially over time.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy refers to severe drowsiness and uncontrolled bouts of sleep that take place during the day. These bouts may be sudden and profound, coming on without warning. Narcolepsy events are rarely restful, and they can contribute to dangerous accidents at home or work.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an irresistible urge to move the legs. It can be experienced in the daytime or at night. The sensation commonly flares up when the sufferer is at rest – for example, seated at a desk or lying down. Moving causes temporary relief from a build-up of “itchy” or “pins and needles” sensations in the affected limbs. Typically, both legs are impacted.

Periodic Limb Movements

This disorder is a repetitive jerking of the legs that occurs during sleep. It often occurs spontaneously as the sufferer is on the verge of entering sleep, causing him or her to suddenly startle awake. Unlike RLS, it occurs exclusively during sleep.

Getting an appropriate diagnosis is a vital first step to dealing with any sleep disorder. A sleep specialist will take a complete medical history and may propose a sleep study to determine the root cause of the problem. Then, the right treatment can reduce your symptoms.

To find out more, contact Sleep & Neuroscience Associates today.

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