During "quiet" sleep, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate and breathing slow. The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning. The other sleep category, REM rapid eye movement sleep, is the period when people dream.
Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways.
Fun Sleep Facts
Although scientists are still trying to tease apart all the mechanisms, they've discovered that sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders, and vice versa. More than 70 types of sleep disorders exist. The most common problems are insomnia difficulty falling or staying asleep , obstructive sleep apnea disordered breathing that causes multiple awakenings , various movement syndromes unpleasant sensations that prompt night fidgeting , and narcolepsy extreme sleepiness or falling asleep suddenly during the day.
Type of sleep disorder, prevalence, and impact vary by psychiatric diagnosis. But the overlap between sleep disorders and various psychiatric problems is so great that researchers have long suspected both types of problems may have common biological roots. Most patients with depression have insomnia, but about one in five suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Insomnia and other sleep problems also increase the risk of developing depression.
An Overview of Sleep Disorders
A longitudinal study of about 1, adults ages 21 to 30 enrolled in a Michigan health maintenance organization found that, compared with normal sleepers, those who reported a history of insomnia during an interview in were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later. And two longitudinal studies in young people — one involving pairs of young twins, and another including 1, teenagers — found that sleep problems developed before major depression did. Insomnia and other sleep problems affect outcomes for patients with depression.
Studies report that depressed patients who continue to experience insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment than those without sleep problems. Even patients whose mood improves with antidepressant therapy are more at risk for a relapse of depression later on.
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Depressed patients who experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who are able to sleep normally. Bipolar disorder. Longitudinal studies suggest that insomnia and other sleep problems worsen before an episode of mania or bipolar depression, and lack of sleep can trigger mania. Sleep problems also adversely affect mood and contribute to relapse. Anxiety disorders. They are also common in children and adolescents. One sleep laboratory study found that youngsters with an anxiety disorder took longer to fall asleep, and slept less deeply, when compared with a control group of healthy children.
Insomnia may also be a risk factor for developing an anxiety disorder, but not as much as it is for major depression.
But insomnia can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders or prevent recovery. Sleep disruptions in PTSD, for example, may contribute to a retention of negative emotional memories and prevent patients from benefiting from fear-extinguishing therapies. Typical problems include difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep duration, and restless slumber. The symptoms of ADHD and sleeping difficulties overlap so much it may be difficult to tease them apart.
And children with these sleeping disorders may become hyperactive, inattentive, and emotionally unstable — even when they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
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In some respects, the treatment recommended for the most common sleep problem, insomnia, is the same for all patients, regardless of whether they also suffer from psychiatric disorders. The fundamentals are a combination of lifestyle changes, behavioral strategies, psychotherapy, and drugs if necessary. Lifestyle changes. It can be associated with problems with daytime sleepiness, irritability and concentration. Often, people with RLS want to walk around and shake their legs to help relieve the uncomfortable sensation. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder of sleep regulation that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness.
People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day. Some patients with narcolepsy experience sudden muscle weakness with laughter or other emotions. Narcolepsy usually begins between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can become apparent at any age.
In many cases, narcolepsy is undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated. If you suspect that you may have a sleep disorder, discuss your symptoms with your primary care doctor. He or she can perform a physical exam and help you identify the difficulties you are having with sleep. Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks may be helpful to your doctor. Some illnesses can cause disturbed sleep, so your doctor may order tests to rule out other conditions. If your doctor suspects that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may refer you to a sleep disorder clinic.
A sleep specialist will review your symptoms and may suggest that you undergo a sleep study. A sleep study or polysomnogram PSG is a multiple-component test that electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep.
The sleep study can be done at home home sleep testing for select patients. The recordings become data that are analyzed by a qualified physician to determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Common Sleep Disorders About 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders.
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The sleep disorders of insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy are discussed. Appointments What are sleep disorders and how common are they? The most important sleep disorders are: Insomnia Sleep apnea Restless legs syndrome Narcolepsy What is insomnia?
People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms: Difficulty falling asleep Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep Waking up too early in the morning Having unrefreshing sleep Having at least one daytime problem such as fatigue; sleepiness; problems with mood, concentration; accidents at work or while driving, etc, due to not sleeping well Insomnia varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs.
What is sleep apnea?
Related Insomnia and Other Disorders of Sleep
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