The study of sleep disorders is relatively new in terms of the medical profession. It has only been since the 20th century that people understood the importance of sleep in sustaining healthy body functions. Since the 1970s, doctors in the United States have focused attention on sleep disorders and their cures.
Anything that routinely interferes with sleep is considered a sleep disorder. Some are quite serious and other only a nuisance, but when sleep deprivation causes problems with regular body functions such as memory and concentration it is vital to see your doctor or health care professional for advice.
Insomnia is the medical condition marked by a persistent inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. It is specifically called medical insomnia when there is no other reason for the symptoms. When a person cannot sleep because of medications or a disrupted sleep schedule that is not considered classic insomnia because the lack of sleep is a result of another condition.
Other disorders that may or may not affect the ability to sleep can affect the amount of rest the body receives. Conditions such as Bruxism, where a person grinds or clenches their teeth involuntarily can affect a person’s quality of sleep.
Sleep apnea is another condition in which the person may be able to fall asleep and even stay asleep, but the breathing difficulty they experience while sleeping makes for an inability for the body to truly rest or for the brain to enter REM sleep states.
Narcolepsy is a condition marked by extreme daytime sleepiness in which persons can actually fall asleep spontaneously and against their will. Narcoleptics have a great deal of difficulty functioning in society, as they are constantly unsure of their ability to remain wakeful.
Parasomniac conditions such as night terrors are a common sleep disorder in which persons awake from periods of sleep in a state of terror. These people often describe very vivid and realistic dreams. Sleepwalking is another sleep disorder in this classification.
Periodic limb movement disorder and Restless legs syndrome are two conditions in which a person is unable to control limb movement or feel compelled to move the limb throughout the night. The inappropriate kicking and striking out can be disruptive to the person’s sleep partners as well.
Nocturia is a sleep disorder in which the person feels the need to go to the toilet numerous times during the night. This condition can make it impossible to stay asleep, as the need to urinate never seems to stop.
Remember, some of these sleep disorders can be fairly serious. It is more than just getting a comfortable mattress to see if you can get a better sleep!