Sleep-Wake Disorders

When you suffer from a sleep disorder, also known as a sleep-wake disorder, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, all of which can lead to significant suffering and functional impairment throughout the day.

Sleep-wake disorders develop when the body’s internal clock is disrupted or not in sync with the external environment. If you have trouble sleeping, it could compromise your health, well-being, and quality of life.

Sleep disturbances are quite widespread in the medical and psychiatric fields. Several mental and physical health issues can cause or contribute to sleep disturbances. The amount of sleep we require changes as we age and differs from one individual to the next. Adults, on average, require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, as the National Sleep Foundation states. But many of us don’t get enough sleep. Around 35% of Americans say they often experience “bad” or “just fair” sleep quality, while nearly 30% of adults report sleeping less than six hours per night. As a result, approximately 50 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders.

Types of Sleep-Wake Disorders

Sleep-wake disorders come in a wide variety of forms. A common theme among these conditions is an inability to sleep or remain up at convenient or acceptable times. Turning Point Center treats a variety of sleep and wake disorders, including:

Insomnia Disorder

Insomnia Disorder – is the most prevalent sleep disorder, characterized by difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep once a sleep session has begun. Stress or a disruption in your routine or environment can play a role in causing temporary insomnia that could last a couple of days or a few weeks. Individuals are considered to have chronic (long-term) insomnia if they experience difficulty falling or staying asleep three or more nights per week for at least three months. Around one-third of adults experience insomnia, and around 50% of insomnia patients also deal with a comorbid psychiatric condition.

Hypersomnolence Disorder

Hypersomnolence Disorder – People often refer to hypersomnia and hypersomnolence as the same thing. However, there is a nuanced distinction that should be made clear. Although both hypersomnia and hypersomnolence involve excessive daytime sleepiness, hypersomnolence also includes excessive nighttime sleep. Just like hypersomnia, hypersomnolence is characterized by an overwhelming need to nap multiple times throughout the day. These naps do not help alleviate any of the symptoms. Daytime naps are still required even if the individual had a sufficient sleep the night before. There are three types of hypersomnolence: acute (lasting one month or less), subacute (lasting one to three months), and persistent (lasting more than three months).

Signs and Symptoms

Sleep is essential for optimal brain function. Numerous negative outcomes may be triggered by either not obtaining enough sleep or sleeping poorly. The most noticeable issues are lethargy, lack of interest, difficulty concentrating, and anger. Your disposition and your capacity to make decisions may also suffer.

Insomnia disorder is a disturbed sleep pattern that lasts for at least three months (occurring at least three times per week) and disrupts a person’s everyday functioning (at work, school, or other vital areas). Among the many signs of insomnia are:

  • Having trouble falling asleep at night
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling rested after a good night’s sleep
  • Tiredness or drowsiness during the day
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Problems paying attention, concentrating or remembering
  • Increased risks of accidents

Hypersomnolence is characterized by extreme daytime sleepiness that cannot be attributed to another medical condition or prescription. When a person has hypersomnolence, they experience extreme drowsiness despite getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. In addition, other symptoms include:

  • Falling asleep multiple times throughout the day
  • Taking naps to counteract drowsiness but failing to wake up refreshed
  • Having slept for more than nine hours yet not feeling rested
  • Having trouble waking up
  • Feeling confused or belligerent while attempting to wake up

Risk Factors

The ability to get a good night’s rest can be disrupted by various external and internal factors. However, general health can be the root cause of most sleep difficulties.

Mental health conditions – Depression and anxiety symptoms frequently occur together with sleep disturbances and can play a role in disrupted sleep.

Medical conditions – Several long-term diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, have been related to little or excessive sleep. Congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis, and Parkinson’s disease are just some of the medical and neurological conditions that might be indicated by disrupted sleep.

Genetics – Some families are predisposed to developing severe insomnia, advanced sleep-phase syndrome, persistent primary insomnia, or narcolepsy with cataplexy.

Stress – Individuals experiencing stressful situations, overworking, and under immense pressure at home, work, or school are most at risk of developing sleep disorders.

Unusual work hours – Those who work in shifts or across time zones are at a greater risk.

Age – People typically sleep less or spend less time in the deep, restorative sleep stage as they age. They are also easily awakened.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Sleep-wake disorders are identified and classified according to the nature of the sleep disruptions experienced and the context in which they occur. Your physician may recommend keeping a sleep journal and using a motion sensor for a week to a fortnight to learn more about your nightly routine. Keeping a sleep diary entails recording your bedtime and wake times and the total number of hours you spend sleeping every day. Actigraphy monitors one’s sleep and activity levels through a wrist-worn motion sensor. Even though sleep studies aren’t typically required to identify sleep-wake disorders, they can help rule out other sleep-related issues.

Sleep-wake disorders are classified by their symptoms, and treatment varies accordingly. Examples of such treatments may include:

  • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and other forms of counseling.
  • Medications such as sleeping pills, melatonin supplements, or prescriptions to treat underlying health issues.

At Turning Point Center, we provide the highest quality care for adults with mental health needs. We’ll modify your care based on what you tell us you need. Our compassionate clinicians offer individualized care to those battling mental health conditions through residential treatment, day treatment (PHP), and intensive outpatient programs.

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