If you are struggling with sleep issues know you are not alone.  According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately 40 million or more Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems accounting for approximately $16 billion in medical costs annually, not counting lost productivity.  Some estimate the combined number is as high as 70 million Americans who suffer chronically from issues related to sleep and wakefulness.

Sleep disorders encompass a total of 10 disorders or disorder groups, and include insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, breathing-related disorders, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and more.

Disrupted sleep (difficulty getting to sleep or maintaining sleep or abnormal events during sleep) can be a serious issue, and can have actual physical and emotional consequences including impacting one’s daily functioning and mood, poorer mental focus, fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, and issues such as anxiety and depression.  Long-term sleep disruption can have profound impacts on one’s health.  These include increased risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, stroke, and longevity (your overall life-span).

One example, sleep apnea, causes people to have disrupted breathing while asleep. In the case of insomnia, patients have a chronic problem with falling or staying asleep. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder where a person experiences extreme sleepiness and takes naps or lapses into sleep during the day, and may, in fact, fall asleep while doing everyday activities.

Issues can be determined through a detailed assessment by your medical professional including sleep diaries, a physical exam, evaluating your patient history in detail, and clinical testing such as in a sleep lab.  Being assessed by a medical professional is especially important, as it appears that having another condition called a “co-existing condition” is more the rule than the exception.  Hence, this can be a complex problem and all the more reason to reach out to a medical professional.  Treatment often includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Find articles, resources and additional information on sleep-wake disorders so you can evaluate your best course of action.

The above summary by WebPsychology.

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