2 Sleep Disorders That You Should Take More Seriously

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Sometimes when people start complaining about sleep disorders, it can be easy to assume that they are exaggerating or to laugh about it. Instead of encouraging the person to go to the doctor and receive treatment, most people laugh about the issue and write it off as a funny story. Here are two sleep disorders that you should take more seriously, and why symptoms should never be ignored.

1: Sleep Apnea

Some of the first symptoms of sleep apnea are forgetfulness and extremely loud snoring. Your spouse might bring down the house every night with their snorts, grunts, and deafening nighttime noise making, and then forget all about your late night conversation about the problem by the time the morning hits. Sometimes, people who suffer from sleep apnea are so fatigued that they end up falling asleep and snoring loudly in places that they wouldn't normally, such as the office or while riding in the carpool van.

Although it might be tempting to joke about the blaring sound or discount the problem as a simple quirk, the fact of the matter is that failure to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea can be dangerous. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the sufferer to stop breathing hundreds of times each night, up to 30 times an hour, while they try to sleep.

Unfortunately, sleep apnea is more than an embarrassing condition that leads to fatigue. High blood pressure, liver problems, heart conditions, and a reduced sex drive are just a few of the issues that can occur because of sleep apnea. Newer studies have also found that people with sleep apnea are about 65% more likely to develop any form of cancer than people who rest properly. 

Fortunately, there are several treatments for sleep apnea. Doctors might prescribe positive pressure systems, or CPAP machines, for the patient to wear overnight. These systems work by blowing air through a mask to keep the patient's airway open and to deliver a fresh infusion of oxygen as the person rests. Some patients even find relief with a simple mouth guard that keeps the throat from relaxing and leading to breathing difficulties. If you suspect that someone that you know may be suffering from sleep apnea, encourage them to talk with their doctor right away.

2: Sleepwalking

Nothing is crazier than watching a roommate, spouse, or sibling get up and walk around when they are fast asleep. In addition to exhibiting a gazed look and responding to your questions in interesting ways, sleep walkers might also try to attend to the normal tasks that they take care of during the day, which can be entertaining. Unfortunately, some types of sleepwalking can be exceptionally dangerous.

Sleepwalking occurs during the deep stages of sleep, so the sufferer can't usually tell reality from a dream. Although this condition is most common in children between 4-8 years old, chemical imbalances can cause a person to suffer from sleepwalking well into adulthood. If your brain doesn't make enough dopamine, a chemical that helps you to remain unconscious during sleep, you might wander around dangerously during the night.

For example, comedian Mike Birbiglia, who suffers from a dopamine deficiency, has dealt with sleepwalking for several years. One night, while staying in a hotel in Washington for a comedy tour, Birbiglia had a dream that he was trying to escape a guided missile. In an attempt to escape, Birbiglia ran and dove out of the second-story window in his room, causing serious lacerations that required 33 stitches. When Mike returned home, he sought treatment from his doctor for the condition that could have ended his life.

Treatment for sleepwalking commonly includes medication, relaxation, and behavioral changes. Serious sleepwalking conditions might also be treated by having the patient sleep with gloves on inside of a sleeping bag, as is the case for Mike Birbiglia. The next time you encounter a sleeping zombie, talk with your friend or relative about the potential consequences of the disorder, and prompt them to seek treatment.  

Getting help for serious sleep disorders can help the sufferer to get the rest that they need, without the troublesome health problems that they don't. Click for more info.