Sleep Disorders - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Sleep Disorders - Medical Malpractice

Sleep disorders are common occurrences. A sleep disorder is defined as any problem falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping at weird times or sleeping too much. A sleep disorder can also represent doing a strange behavior during sleep, like sleepwalking. They have different causes and different treatments. There are about a hundred different sleep disorders possible. They are of four different categories:

If you can't sleep, it is called insomnia. You can have problems just falling asleep or problems staying asleep during the night. It can also involve waking up too early. The episodes normally last less than three weeks long but there is a subclass of people with chronic insomnia.

You can get insomnia for a number of reasons including being sick with something, having pain, being depressed or anxious, having a poor sleep environment, drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages, smoking too much and napping too much during the daytime hours. You make it worse if you try to go to bed too early or spend too much time awake in bed doing other activities like reading or watching television.

You can have stressful feelings around not being able to go to sleep and this can make the condition even worse. You can be out of synchronization with your normal sleep pattern, such as with shift work or changing your sleeping times too much. You can become too tolerant on sleep medication and be unable to sleep. You can take illicit drugs which act as stimulants and can interfere severely with your sleep.

If you have the opposite problem and have difficulty staying awake, you have what's known as a hypersomnia. You can have idiopathic hypersomnia of no known cause or you can have narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that affects daytime sleeping. If you have obstructive or central sleep apnea, you can have problems with tiredness all day long because you are not getting restorative sleep during the nighttime hours. Restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder are related conditions in which your legs are too restless to be able to get a good night's sleep so you are tired all day long.

You can have difficulty staying with a regular sleep-wake cycle. If you are a traveler traveling across many time zones, you can get jet lag, which is a disorder of the sleep-wake cycle. If you are a shift worker and work on different shifts, you need to consider the possibility that you might get a problem with your sleep-wake cycle. It is worse with workers who work often during the nighttime hours. Some people are just natural short sleepers who don't suffer any ill effects of sleeping fewer hours than most.

Parasomnias are disorders in which you exhibit an unusual behavior during sleep. It is a common problem in kids who suffer from sleep terrors, sleep walking and sleep talking. There is a condition called a REM-sleep behavior disorder in which you act out your dreams. This can be particularly dangerous if a person acts out an especially violent or dangerous dream.

People with sleep disorders often have problems functioning during the day. They can fall asleep at the wheel or fall asleep at work and are at higher than average incidence of having accidents or falls. The treatment of a sleeping disorder varies with the type of disorder. Insomnia is treated by having better sleep habits and sometimes using sleeping medications. People are encouraged to sleep at the same time every night and to avoid spending a lot of time in bed doing other activities. Sleep apnea problems are treated medically with things like CPAP.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here