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Nervous System

Sleep and Dreams

What are some sleep disorders?

The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Insomnia is ongoing difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless sleep. Technically, insomnia is a symptom of other sleep disorders. Consequently, treatment for insomnia depends on the primary cause of insomnia, which may be stress, depression, or too much caffeine or alcohol.

Hypersomnia is extreme sleepiness during the day even with adequate sleep the night before. Hypersomnia has been mistakenly blamed on depression, laziness, boredom, or other negative personality traits.

Narcolepsy is characterized by falling asleep at inappropriate times. The sleep may last only a few minutes and is often preceded by a period of muscular weakness. Emotional events may trigger an episode of narcolepsy. Some individuals with narcolepsy experience a state called sleep paralysis. They wake up to find their body is paralyzed except for breathing and eye movement. In other words, the brain is awake but the body is still asleep.

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder in which an individual briefly wakes up because breathing has been interrupted and may even stop for a brief period of time. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person’s nose or mouth as they breathe.



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