Q: What are the most common types of sleep disorders?
A: The most common sleep disorder is sleep apnea, which affects as many as 18 million Americans. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that disrupts a person's sleep and usually is accompanied by snoring. Men and people who are obese are at greatest risk.
Restless leg syndrome is often referred to as "the most common problem you have never heard of." It is a neurological movement disorder characterized by an uncomfortable sensation in the legs. Because it occurs most frequently late in the day or at night, especially when lying down, restless leg syndrome is a leading cause of sleep problems.
Narcolepsy, another prevalent sleep disorder, is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by involuntary sleep attacks at inappropriate times, such as falling asleep at your desk or during a business meeting.
Q: How can sleep disorders impact your health?
A: If untreated, sleep disorders can increase a person's risk for heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, heartburn and depression. Lack of sleep also can lead to "drowsy driving," which is a dangerous situation for everyone on the road. In addition, sleep disorders can impact your work productivity and personal relationships.
Q: What should I do if I suspect that I have a sleep disorder?
A: Talk to your doctor. An overnight sleep study may be needed to pinpoint the cause of your sleep disturbance.