Although sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, there are more than ninety different ones you can be diagnosed with. Some of them you probably already know, such as narcolepsy and insomnia, but here are a few that don’t receive quite as much attention:
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome may first appear as chronic daytime sleepiness, but is more than that. This disorder is similar to OSA, as there are often recurring breathing events due to the narrowing of the airway, which makes it harder to breathe while asleep. Also like OSA, UARS shows in snoring and frequent waking up while sleeping. Thankfully, there are treatment options.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is a neurological disorder and appears when a person has an uncontrollable sensation in arms or legs, hence the name. People who experience RLS describe the feeling as “creeping, crawling, itching, or tingling” sensations, which may or may not be relieved by moving or stretching.
RLS occurs when the person is awake and often is associated with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, which is similar but occurs when the patient is asleep, instead, though the two are not indicative of one or the other.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
REM Sleep Behavior disorder goes hand-in-hand with increased muscle tone during REM sleep, and means that a person “acts out their dreams.” By this, the person will move in abnormal ways and can be quite dangerous for bed partners who are not expecting sudden movement.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is often considered a precursor to Parkinson’s disease.
Circadian Rhythm Disorder
Your circadian rhythm, which is sometimes also called your “internal clock,” is a biological process that is influenced both by internal mechanisms and external stimuli, such as sunlight. Circadian Rhythm Disorder encompasses a few different events, all grouped under the disorder. Sleep phase delay or sleep phase advancement both qualify, and you’ve likely even experienced them to some degree if you’ve ever been jetlagged. Jetlag itself is not a sleep disorder unless it becomes persistent.
Phase delay, however, is becoming more and more of an issue, particularly with adolescents, who have grown up with the presence of electronic devices. Cell phones, computers, and televisions all delay the phases of sleep, and why it is essential to turn off the screens an hour before bedtime to allow the eyes and brain to adjust.