If you’re among the estimated 38 million Americans who have sleep apnea, or millions more with other sleep disorders, you might not even be aware there’s a problem. However, sleep disorders don’t just impact your sleep quality, they can have adverse effects on your overall health.
At the Spine and Sports Center in Houston and Sugarland, Texas, Dr. Ed Cheril Benny diagnoses and treats many types of sleep disorders. He can help you find a way to reduce your risk of additional health issues that can be impacted by interrupted sleep.
The most common serious sleep disorder: sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) causes your airway to close while you’re sleeping. You don’t wake up, but your throat closes off as the tongue and soft tissues at the back of your upper palate relax and mash together.
Eventually, your brain realizes something is wrong and triggers a startle response. You’ll jerk with a snore, snort, or gasp and resume a normal breathing pattern. If this happens multiple times every hour and lasts for stretches of 10 seconds or longer, you have sleep apnea.
Many people don’t realize they’re having episodes until their bed partner complains about snoring and snorting. Even if you don’t wake up, they’re likely to. If your partner mentions this behavior being chronic, you should have yourself checked for a sleep disorder.
Other sleep disorders
There are many different sleep disorders, including:
- Insomnia, when you can't fall or stay asleep
- Hypersomnia, when you’re constantly sleepy
- Narcolepsy, when you experience sudden, powerful sleepiness
- Circadian rhythm disorders, when your sleep-wake cycle is disrupted
- Sleep-related movement disorders, when you sleepwalk
- Restless legs syndrome, when you feel like you have to move your legs at night
All of these sleep disorders can lead to symptoms that cause more severe problems if left untreated.
5 signs of a sleep disorder you shouldn’t ignore
If you have one or more of the following signs, you should be checked for sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
1. Daytime sleepiness
Daytime sleepiness can be an early sign of sleep apnea issues and can make you irritable and mentally fatigued.
2. Drowsiness when driving
Drowsiness when driving is a hallmark of many sleep disorders, especially if you have a daily driving routine that puts you on autopilot.
3. An unhappy partner
An unhappy partner is a sign that your condition may have progressed to a more serious stage since it’s keeping them up all night every night.
4. Weight gain
Weight gain can be a sign of a metabolic disorder. Sleep disorders increase your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
5. Elevated blood pressure
Elevated blood pressure can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, especially if cardiovascular symptoms like arrhythmia are untreated.
Ready to discuss sleep disorders with a qualified sleep medicine doctor? Contact your closest Spine and Sports Center location by phone or online to make an appointment today.