An estimated 50-70 million Americans chronically suffer from a sleep or circadian disorder. Sleepiness is a serious health concern and cannot always be mitigated by healthy sleep habits. Sleep disorders are real and need to be addressed by a sleep specialist.
What do sleep disorders look like?
Sleep disorders are often invisible and may be hard to detect. Sleepiness may manifest as issues with behavior, mood regulation, memory, concentration or sustained attention. It’s important to learn about the real signs and symptoms of common and serious sleep disorders.
What kind of doctor should I visit about a possible sleep disorder?
Be proactive! Not all doctors are familiar with sleep disorders. Your journey will likely begin with your primary care doctor, but it’s important to consult a Board-Certified Sleep Specialist (locate an AASM Accredited Sleep Center). Find a sleep specialist familiar with your possible condition’s symptoms and treatments.
What are sleep disorders?
These are some of the more common and serious sleep disorders:
(1) Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders are neurological disorders in which the sleep-wake cycle is out of sync with the day-night cycle. As a result, individuals may experience insomnia-like symptoms at night and excessive sleepiness during the day, greatly impacting typical work, school and social schedules.
Circadian rhythm disorders include Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder, Irregular Sleep Wake Disorder and Shift Work Disorder.
(2) Idiopathic Hypersomnia is a chronic sleep disorder involving persistent sleepiness lasting more than three months without abnormal tendencies to enter REM sleep.
In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, symptoms include daily sleep amounts of 10 hours or more and extreme sleep inertia, difficulties waking up with alarm clocks, feeling groggy for long period of times.