Contributed by Barry Y.
Did you ever wake up at night because your leg suddenly jerked up as if you had slipped on something? If you experienced this at some time in your life, it might have been alarming but now it is probably just a funny memory. There are other sleep disorders that are not as funny. Here are five of the most common ones:
Sleep apnea. Normally, after you fall asleep your muscles relax, including the ones in your neck and mouth. When you have sleep apnea your airway constricts, depriving you of oxygen for ten seconds at a time. Your body responses kick in, your heart rate increases, your temperature rises and you wake up, gasping for air. Then you fall back asleep without even being aware that it happened. This can occur 20 times in one night. The result is that you are always tired even though you are sure you slept a solid 8 hours. If you think you have sleep apnea, you should see a sleep specialist.
Teeth grinding. When you are in the REM state of sleep, you do not have any pain responses. If you grind your teeth, you won’t even know. You can grind your teeth so hard that it can be heard in another room. Besides grinding, you can also clench your jaw. Jaw clenching can lead to inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as TMJ. If you find that you are waking up with a sore jaw, you may be either clenching your teeth or grinding your teeth. Continuos grinding can wear down your teeth or even break them. Relaxing before bed can help alleviate the stress that causes teeth grinding. Alternatively, you can also use a special a mouthpiece at night that will place your jaw in proper alignment to prevent teeth grinding.
Restless limbs. Restless limb syndrome (RLS) is not the sudden movement of your limbs during sleep. RLS is a tingling feeling in your legs that makes you want to move your legs to relive the tingling. You may not even know that you have it as the tingling can start after you fall asleep. One tell-tale signal that you might have RLS is waking up and noticing your sheets are a mess. This condition is linked to an iron deficiency and can be fixed by taking a supplement. Regular exercise, taking a walk before bed and stretching also help alleviate RLS.
Night sweats. If you wake up and you sheets and pajamas are drenched with sweat, you are having night sweats. This syndrome can be caused by menopause, the flu, an overactive thyroid, or might be a side effect of medication. However, it can also indicate that you have sleep apnea, HIV, tuberculosis or lymphoma. If night sweats happen for more than a week, you should visit your doctor. If all these more serious conditions can be ruled out, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol can help. As we get older, our bodies can react to caffeine and alcohol by raising our body temperature. Regular exercise also helps regulate body temperature even while you sleep.
Bed wetting. The possibility of incontinence increases as we age. Nighttime accidents can be caused by a urinary tract infection and be temporary. But if you look back on your daily activity, notice whether or not you have been going to the bathroom more often or if you have any instances where you we unable to hold it till you got to the toilet. If it is not a urinary track infection, you may have an over active bladder (OAB). This can be treated through behavior modification. By not drinking a few hours before bed, limiting caffeine and alcohols and using the restroom on a schedule, you can eliminate accidents. Otherwise, there are many drugs available for OAB. Surgery is also a possibility as well as Botox, or the implementation of a bladder pacemaker.
Are there any other sleep disorders you are aware of? Have you suffered from any of the above and have been treated successfully? We invite you to share ideas or experiences in the comment below.