As the name indicates, sleep disorder is a term that refers to any disturbance in the
- Timings of the sleep-wake cycle
- Quality of sleep
- The total duration of a singular sleep cycle
Sleep disorder is a general term that umbrellas more than 96 ailments that may affect our sleep. The figures given by the American Psychiatric Association are alarming. About 10-20 percent of individuals encountered in primary clinical care complaint of some sort of sleep irregularities. The diagnosed cases of insomnia represent 6-10 percent of the total adult population coming across in clinical practice while one-third present with symptoms of insomnia.
Why is it vital to have a good night sleep?
If our lifestyles were not already fast enough…the advent of the latest tech gadgets, smartphones, convenient internet access, and competitive routines have evolved our lives into unlimited functioning hours with no distinction between day and night time. People particularly the young cohort spend much of their time online, both working and entertaining. Apart from intentional adoption of wakefulness, many physical, psychological and emotional factors also contribute to sleep disorders and insomnia.
While our bodies try to follow the momentum of the biological clock set by the first light and sundown, our minds keep the cerebral activities regardless of this natural setting. This results in a ‘sleep debt’. If the process continues, the debt results in signs and symptoms of established disease, the sleep disorder, or commonly known as insomnia.
The argument, given by the enthusiastic type ‘A’ individuals includes statements like
“I sleep when I have to”
“I sleep less but sleep for good quality hours”
“I compensate my night-time sleep by snoozing in the morning”, and so on
The facts remain quite opposite to the proclaimed statements. Good night sleep is never reimbursed by day-time sleeping. A healthy adult requires a good 7-9 hours/day of sleep, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, US (2015). No matter how busy you are, you got to sleep at nighttime. The sun goes down for a reason and your mum made you go to sleep on time for a reason too.
Sleep is Mother Nature’s gift to us. It remains critical to our physical and mental health. Regardless of the causative factor, sleep irregularities lead to short and long-term health complications.
According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, chronic sleep disorders culminate in weight gain, high blood pressure, and frailer immunity.
Insomnia affects your ability to focus and concentrate thereby risking your personal safety. Daytime lethargy and sleepiness, frequent headaches, poor memory, poor work performance are all tagged with sleep disorders and insomnia.
Chronic sleep disorders place you at high risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. They also disturb glucose metabolism. The culprit behind your low sex drive may be insomnia or other sleep disorders.
One of the long-term health complications of insomnia is the development of depression and anxiety that affects your social and emotional relationships. Sleep disorders make you more prone to substance abuse and addictive behaviors. Sleep disorders impair the learning ability in young adults, which ultimately culminates into developmental tardiness.
So sleep disorders and insomnia upset the overall quality of your life in every aspect.
Types of sleep disorders
According to the American Psychiatric Association,
“Nearly 30% of adults get less than six hours of sleep each night”
“Only 30% of high school students get eight hours of sleep on an average school night”
“About 35% of Americans report their sleep quality as fair or poor”
“More than 50 million American adults face chronic sleep disorders”
The National Sleep Foundation categorizes sleep disorders as
- Excessive sleepiness
- Excessive Sleepiness Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Non-24-hour Sleep-Wake Disorder
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Shift Work Disorder
Our sleep is dictated by the circadian rhythm. In simple terms, a normal sleep pattern comprises of two configurations that occur three to five times every night.
- Rapid eye movement sleep (REM Sleep or active phase)
- Non-REM Sleep (Quiet sleep)
The Non-REM phase is further divided into three or four stages. Diverse physiological, neurological and psychological activities occur in the different phases of sleep.
Contrary to previous notions of a ‘sleep center in the brain’ and a ‘sleep disorder center’, latest research defines sleep as a consequence of series of events that include neurons, brainstem and a plethora of neurotransmitters (chemicals). These events get activated by a complex interaction between external stimuli and our intrinsic circadian rhythm. This results in a sleep-wake cycle that involves multiple areas of the brain. So appointing a single brain area as a sleep center does not justify the intricate mechanism of sleep and sleep disorders.
That is why different sleep disorders require distinctive treatment lines. For example REM sleep behavior disorder treatment follow therapies to control the abnormal activity while sleeping. It targets to tone down the increased muscle activity during sleep.
Is insomnia another term for sleep disorders?
Insomnia is generally used for describing sleep disorder of any kind whereas it is quite the opposite. Contrary to general belief, insomnia is one of the sleep disorders.
Insomnia affects the quality of sleep. A person finds it difficult to initiate sleep and maintain asleep during the night. There is frequent waking up during the night. Often the patient wakes up early in the morning and complains of tiredness.
Insomnia can be temporary or transient that usually follows an upsetting life event or some other stress-related condition. Because transient insomnia may happen in routine, it is misconnected with sleep disorders. Did anybody send you an insomnia meme because you were sleeping at your work table?
If not treated, a temporary case of insomnia can develop into a chronic case when the sleep remains disturbed for at least three nights per week for at least a month. The chronic cases of insomnia are usually associated with other underlying conditions as Restless Leg Syndrome or Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome.
The diagnosis of various sleep disorders caters to ICD-10 codes that describe different sleep disorders. There are different ICD-10 codes for insomnia according to the underlying condition.