So, You Have a Problem Sleeping?

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Restless nights and few hours of sleep can lead to difficult days.  If you suffer from sleeping problems, a simple sleep study can provide doctors with information that can be used to determine if, and what type, of sleep disorder you may have. 

Diagnosing sleep disorders requires the expertise of a polysomnographic technologist who records and acquires the data and specially-trained physicians who interpret the results.  The following is a list of common sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia: Characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia is often caused by stress, depression, anxiety, caffeine, medications and chronic or occasional pain. Another common contributor is circadian rhythm disruption, such as jet lag or shift work.
  • Sleep apnea: Loud snoring accompanied by multiple, nightly brief episodes of breathing cessation suggest the presence of sleep apnea.
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD): Symptoms occur during sleep, when the affected person's legs will kick every 20-40 seconds throughout the night.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS is less common than PLMD. It is characterized by an uncomfortable sensation in the legs while lying down. Commonly described as a tickle or cramp, this feeling is relieved by movement and causes people to have to get out of bed to stop the sensation.
  • Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS): and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) Both are characterized by sleeping and waking at inconvenient times. A person with ASPS will wake earlier than his or her desired clock time. DSPS, on the other hand, results in going to sleep much later than one wishes.
  • Narcolepsy: This condition is marked by excessive drowsiness during the day, with a tendency to sleep at inappropriate times.
  • REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep behavior disorder: All body muscles (except those used in breathing or movement of the eyes) are normally paralyzed during REM sleep. In some people the paralysis is incomplete or absent and allows them to violently "act out" their dreams. Acting out of dreams can potentially lead to injury of the patient or bed partner.

If you are having problems sleeping and are interested in undergoing a sleep study, speak with your primary care physician or one of our sleep medicine doctors.

Martha Jefferson Sleep Center