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Sleep Medicine: An Overview of Sleep Disorders

Do you ever find yourself wide awake at night, your mind racing with all the things you have to do? Or maybe you’re jolted awake suddenly, your heart racing, and panic sets in. Whether it’s chronic insomnia or just a few sleepless nights, it can be frustrating and even unsettling.

But there’s more to sleeping disorders than just insomnia—there’s also parasomnia. And while they may have some similar symptoms, these two sleep disorders are actually quite different. In this blog, we’ll take a look at both insomnia and parasomnia to understand their different causes, signs, and treatments. Let’s dive in!

Insomnia: Symptoms and Causes

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. It can range from occasional to chronic and cause significant distress, interfering with productivity and daily functioning. Symptoms of insomnia include waking up at night, difficulty falling asleep, being unable to return to sleep, waking up feeling unrefreshed or exhausted, daytime fatigue, poor concentration, or irritability.

Insomnia can have many causes including poor sleep hygiene habits like late-night screen time or caffeine consumption too close to bedtime. Other possible causes of insomnia include hormonal changes such as those associated with menopause, stress and emotional difficulties such as grief or depression, physical discomfort due to pain or other medical conditions, and the use of certain medications. Chronic insomnia may also be caused by a behavioral disorder such as anxiety or insomnia. Discuss with your doctor if you have insomnia and go for sleep medicine.

Insomnia: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Insomnia is a condition that can be difficult to diagnose, as it sometimes looks different from person to person. If you suspect that you might have insomnia then, the first step is to schedule an appointment with a sleep medicine specialist.

Treatment for insomnia usually starts with lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and setting regular bedtime hours. If these don’t work, your sleep medicine specialist may recommend sleep medicine or therapy.

Parasomnia: An Overview of Sleep Disorders

So, what about parasomnia? It’s a sleep disorder that can be just as disruptive and dangerous as insomnia. In simplest terms, parasomnia is an abnormal behavior that occurs during sleep.

Common Parasomnias: Night Terrors, Sleepwalking, and More

Do you know the common parasomnias that people can experience? Parasomnias are disruptive sleep disorders, and the most common type is night terrors.

So what exactly is a night terror? It’s when your body suddenly wakes up from a deep sleep and you experience intense emotions like fear and panic, although you’re unable to determine why.

Other common types of parasomnias include:

  • Sleepwalking – engaging in activities while sleeping like going somewhere or doing something without any recollection of the event after waking up
  • Sleep talking – vocalizing words while sleeping without having a recollection of the conversation
  • Bruxism – grinding or clenching your teeth while asleep
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – an irresistible urge to move your legs usually accompanied by an uncomfortable sensation that improves with movement

Parasomnia Causes: From Stress to Medical Conditions

If you have parasomnia and don’t know why, it’s important that you talk to a doctor to find out the root cause of your sleep disorder.

Stress and Anxiety

When your mind is in a state of worry or fear, it can manifest in physical symptoms like insomnia, sometimes called ‘psychophysiological insomnia’. This means that stress and anxiety can trigger the physical symptoms associated with parasomnia. People who may be prone to this type of parasomnia include those with pre-existing mental health issues such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Medical Conditions

There are also medical conditions that can lead to parasomnias, such as thyroid disease and other endocrine system issues; diabetes; sleep apnea; and even anemia. Other causes could include changes in medications or alcohol consumption, so it’s important to note any changes in lifestyle when discussing the causes of your sleep disorder with your doctor.

Seeking Treatment for Parasomnia: Therapy and Medication

If you’re trying to cope with parasomnia and the associated sleep disturbances, then you should look into seeking professional help. Consulting with a therapist can be very beneficial in determining the best course of sleep medicine for your particular situation.

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