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What are sleep related breathing disorders?
Sleep related breathing disorders are a group of disorders that affect our breathing while we are asleep, and are characterized by disruptions of normal breathing patterns that only occur during sleep. Therefore, the person with the disorder may be the last to know he or she has a problem. Sleep related breathing disorders constitute a subset of the broad group of sleep disorders that include many other disorders such as insomnia (difficulty sleeping), hypersomnias (inappropriately falling asleep, for example, narcolepsy), parasomnias (activities during sleep, for example, sleepwalking and sleep terrors), and sleep related movement disorders (for example, restless leg syndrome). The most common sleep related breathing disorders are snoring and sleep apnea.
Why do we sleep?
This is a complex topic that we only partially understand. Mammals, reptiles, birds, and even fruit flies have been observed sleeping. A manatee can sleep with one side of its brain while the other side is awake and alert. Sleeping in this way avoids a long period of unconsciousness, during which it would be very vulnerable. Humans typically need 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but individuals vary in their need for sleep. Sleep should be restorative and is necessary to maintain health. During sleep, we rest and repair our muscles and organize our thoughts and memories. Therefore, if we become sleep deprived, we feel both physically fatigued and mentally exhausted. Many studies show that sleep deprivation causes a decrease in problem solving ability, attention, and manual reflex times.
What are the stages of sleep?
Sleep stages can be measured by monitoring the electrical impulses within the brain, often termed brain waves. These electrical impulses, or brain waves can be monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG). Sleep can be broken up into three stages and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Stage 1 sleep is the most superficial and stage 4 is the deepest. Stage 1 and 2 sleep are both considered to be light sleep, while stage 3 sleep is deeper, more restorative sleep. This stage is important for the body to feel well. REM sleep is the sleep stage in which we typically dream. During REM, the brain sends signals to the muscles to relax, so we do not "act out" our dreams. The relaxation of muscles in REM sleep can sometimes worsen sleep related breathing disorders like snoring and sleep apnea. We typically spend about 50% of our sleep in stages 1 and 2, 25% in stages 3, and 25% in REM sleep.
For additional information please visit the Sleep Center.
Quick GuideSleep Disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and More
"Sleep related breathing disorders in adults: Definitions"
Top Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Related Articles
Adenoids and Tonsils
Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms of bad breath, snoring, congestion, headache, hoarseness, laryngitis, and coughing up blood.
Tonsillitis can be caused acute infection of the tonsils, and several types of bacteria or viruses (for example, strep throat or mononucleosis). There are two types of tonsillitis, acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis lasts from one to two weeks while chronic tonsillitis can last from months to years.
Treatment of tonsillitis and adenoids include antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, and home remedies to relieve pain and inflammation, for example, salt water gargle, slippery elm throat lozenges, sipping warm beverages and eating frozen foods (ice cream, popsicles), serrapeptase, papain, and andrographism Some people with chronic tonsillitis may need surgery (tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy ).
Airway PictureThe path air follows to get into and out of the lungs. See a picture of Airway and learn more about the health topic.
InsomniaInsomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of difficulty falling asleep; waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; or unrefreshing sleep. Secondary insomnia is the most common type of insomnia. Treatment for insomnia include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication.
Marfan syndrome is hereditary (genetic) condition affecting connective tissue. A person with Marfan syndrome may exhibit the following symptoms and characteristics:
- Dislocation of one or both lenses of the eye
- A protruding or indented breastbone
- Flat feet
- Aortic dilatation
- Dural ectasia (a problem with the sac surrounding the spinal cord)
- Stretch marks
- Collapsed lung
Though there is no cure for Marfan syndrome, there are treatments that can minimize and sometimes prevent some complications.
NarcolepsyCauses of narcolepsy, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, have not been fully determined. Some theories include abnormalities in hypocretin neurons in the brain or an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
- excessive daytime sleepiness,
- hypnagogic hallucinations,
- sleep paralysis,
- disturbed nocturnal sleep, and
- automatic behavior.
Diagnosis of narcolepsy is based on a clinical evaluation, specific questionnaires, sleep logs or diaries, and the results of sleep laboratory tests. Treatments of narcolepsy symptoms include medication and lifestyle changes.
NightmaresNightmares are dreams that cause high anxiety or terror. Nightmares may be a part of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they usually occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. There are several different treatment options for nightmares, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications.
Pulmonary hypertension is an increase pressure in the pulmonary arteries that carry blood from the lungs to the heart. The most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty breathing. If the condition goes undiagnosed, more severe symptoms may occur, for example:
- Ankle swelling (edema)
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Decreased appetite
- Pain in the upper right side of the belly (abdomen)
- Fainting (syncope)
- Lightheadedness, particularly during physical activity
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- A bluish color to the lips and skin
People at risk of developing pulmonary hypertension are those who:
- Live at high altitudes
- Have a family history of the condition.
- Have diseases and conditions that may put them at risk of developing pulmonary hypertension
- Use illegal drugs like cocaine, and certain diet drugs.
NIH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is Pulmonary Hypertension?" Updated: Aug 2011
NIH. PubMed Health. "Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)."
CDC. Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. "Pulmonary Hypertension Fact Sheet." Updated: Jul 22, 2014.
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Concentration or memory problems
Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
Sleep ApneaSleep apnea is defined as a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are central apnea, obstructive apnea (OSA), and a mixture of central and obstructive apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to activate the muscles of breathing during sleep. OSA is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep. OSA is diagnosed and evaluated through patient history, physical examination and polysomnography. There are many complications related to obstructive sleep apnea. Treatments are surgical and non-surgical.
Sleep DisordersLearn about the different types of sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Explore the symptoms, causes, tests and treatments of sleep disorders.
SleepwalkingSleepwalking is a condition in which an individual walks or does other activities while asleep. Factors associated with sleepwalking include genetic, environmental, and physiological. Episodes of sleepwalking may include quiet walking to agitated running. Conditions that may have similar symptoms of sleepwalking, but are not include night terrors, confusional arousals, and nocturnal seizures. Treatment of sleepwalking generally include preventative measures. Medication may be prescribed if necessary.
SomnoplastySomnoplasty is a procedure that reduces snoring by removing tissues of the uvula and soft palate. Complications include:
- prolonged pain,
- impaired hearing,
- nasal regurgitation,
- failure to cure sleep apnea, and
- failure to eliminate snoring.