Silvia’s Corner is written by Silvia Hafliger, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry. In her posts, Dr. Hafliger will discuss a wide range of mental health topics and provide useful information to patients and their families.
The Mystery of Sleep — Part 3
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. People suffering from insomnia are often dissatisfied with the quantity or quality of their sleep, experiencing daytime sleepiness, low energy, depressed mood and cognitive impairment. Insomnia may be caused by a wide range of factors, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, medications, medical conditions, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. A diagnosis may be made when difficulty sleeping occurs at least 3 nights a week for 3 months.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move the legs. This urge typically occurs during rest or inactivity. Some medications, medical conditions, anemia or iron deficiency may cause restless leg syndrome.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by complete or partial pauses in breathing during sleep. Other symptoms include shallow breathing, snoring and gagging. These pauses occur due to the collapse of the upper airway in the back of the throat, depriving the body of oxygen. The lack of oxygen to the brain contributes to fatigue, low energy, trouble focusing and memory issues. Not only does obstructive sleep apnea negatively affect the brain, it can also cause heart disease and hypertension. These episodes can occur all night, sometimes up to 30 times an hour.