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Identifying and Understanding Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders can be both biological and psychological, and they’re often very unpleasant for the people who have them. While a sleep disorder can be easily defined as a deviation from normal sleep patterns, there are hundreds of possible deviations, and they all lead to serious consequences including:
- Less sleep or low-quality sleep
- Fatigue and energy issues that impact work performance
- Embarrassing, painful, or potentially dangerous physical conditions
- High levels of stress
Some people with sleep disorders are unaware of the existence of these conditions and are informed by loved ones. Others notice their sleeping habits changing or have constantly shifting sleep habits. In any case, if you have a condition that’s preventing you from sleeping normally, learning about sleep disorders and treatment options can be very helpful for getting a better night’s sleep.
Evaluating Sleep Disturbances and Forming a Diagnosis
Before sleep disorders can be treated, they need to be correctly diagnosed by a medical professional. Sleep disorders are often diagnosed by using “sleep studies,” in which a patient’s sleep is closely monitored using special medical equipment designed for this purpose. The patient’s heart rate and brain activity is monitored throughout the night to develop a better understanding of how the sleep disorder is affecting the person and causing a deviation from normal sleep patterns.
While this may sound complex, a sleep study is usually very comfortable for patients and can provide valuable insight into ways to treat sleep disorders quickly and effectively. They are often covered by medical insurance.
After a sleep study has been completed, a medical doctor (usually a sleep specialist) will determine a diagnosis. The doctor may then recommend one of several options to treat the patient’s sleep disorder, or they may perform other tests depending on the results of the sleep study. Some doctors may make a diagnosis without a sleep study depending on the complexity of the symptoms.
Getting Better Sleep: Treating Sleep Disorders
Treatment for sleep disorders varies greatly depending on the type of disorder. Medication is widely used in the treatment of conditions like narcolepsy and insomnia, as different medicines can alternately promote wakefulness or allow a person to fall asleep.
Other disorders require special machines and tools. Sleep apnea sufferers, for instance, often use CPAP machines to treat the condition. A CPAP machine can prevent sleep apnea from occurring by holding open the airways of the user.
A third option for sleep disorder treatment is therapy. Different types of therapy can be extraordinarily effective; the aforementioned sleep apnea, for instance, can be treated with minor physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that naturally hold the airways open. Insomnia can often be treated through psychotherapy sessions that address the psychological causes of the condition.
Sleep disorders that are caused or worsened by stress and substance abuse can completely disappear after psychotherapeutic treatment in some instances. However, the underlying causes of these conditions needs to be treated for any type of recovery to begin. Therapists may discover that other related issues need to be addressed in the patient for recovery to be complete, so it’s important to stick with therapy when treating a sleep disorder, even if the symptoms of the condition seem to disappear after treatment begins.
Sleep disorders can be very stressful and unpleasant, but treating them will often lead to instant relief. Whether a medical, psychological, or emotional issue is behind your disorder, learn about the condition and take the necessary steps to restore your natural sleeping habits.