Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sleep Disorder Symptoms for National Sleep Awareness Week

The annual National Sleep Awareness Week begins today. It ends next weekend when we set our clocks ahead one hour for daylight saving time.

You’re probably aware of common sleep problems such as
insomnia, nightmares and snoring. But there are many other sleep disorders that can affect your sleep and your health.

Here are some of the symptoms of other sleep disorders:

  • Loud snoring, silent pauses & snorting: Loud snoring is a common warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea. The snoring ends with a silent pause when breathing stops. Then a choking or snorting sound occurs when breathing resumes.

  • Grinding teeth: Grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep is a symptom of bruxism. It can damage your teeth and cause jaw discomfort or pain. The sound also can disturb the sleep of your bed partner.

  • Jittery legs: Having a strong urge to move your legs while resting is a sign of restless legs syndrome. This urge to move the legs grows worse at night and eases in the morning.

  • Frequent leg or toe movements: The repeated flexing or tightening of a leg or toe during sleep is a sign of periodic limb movement disorder. The movements can disrupt your sleep and disturb your bed partner.

  • Sudden collapse: “Cataplexy” is a unique symptom of narcolepsy. It involves a sudden loss of muscle tone while you are awake. Your head may drop, or your knees may buckle. You may completely fall out on the floor. Episodes of cataplexy tend to be triggered by a strong emotion such as laughter or surprise.

  • Temporary paralysis: Being unable to move as you are waking up or falling asleep is a sign of recurrent isolated sleep paralysis. It may feel like an unseen weight is on you. Sleep paralysis also can be a symptom of narcolepsy.

  • Nightly binge eating: Compulsive binge eating that occurs during the night is a sign of sleep related eating disorder. The eating tends to occur when you are only partially awake. You may wake up in the morning and discover that half-eaten food is scattered all over the place.

  • Violent dream behavior: People with REM sleep behavior disorder act out vivid, action-packed dreams while they sleep. They may shout, punch, kick, run and even jump out a window. Injuries may occur to the dreamer or a bedpartner.

  • Head banging: Head banging, body rocking and head rolling in bed are signs of sleep related rhythmic movement disorder. It is common in healthy infants and children.

Get help for these and other sleep disorders at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.

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