It is estimated that sleep disorders currently affect over 60% of individuals in the United States alone. Lack of sleep leads to daytime drowsiness and reduced mental alertness. In addition, over time insufficient sleep may result in far more serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, angina, diabetes, and in extreme cases even coronary heart disease. Some common sleep disorders include among others snoring, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and insomnia.
Whilst not essentially a dangerous condition, snoring may nevertheless be a precursor for far more serious disorders such as angina and arterial disease. If left untreated, severe cases of snoring may also eventually lead to obstructive sleep apnea, a condition whereby the brain becomes deprived of oxygen for several seconds or minutes throughout the night.
Narcolepsy is a debilitating sleep disorder that interferes with the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or dream phase of sleep. Those suffering from narcolepsy will awake from dream sleep several times a night and as a result experience ongoing spells of daytime slumber in which they fall asleep whilst performing activities such as driving and working. In addition, they will also experience other symptoms such as frightening hallucinations, loss of muscular control and sleep paralysis.
Insomnia is probably one of the most widespread of sleep disorders. The majority of people have trouble sleeping at some point in their lives, but in the case of insomnia the inability to fall or remain asleep becomes an ongoing problem. Insomniacs generally fall into one of three categories- those who take an incredibly long time to fall asleep, those who fall asleep easily but wake up in the early hours of the morning and those who simply cannot sleep at all for days on end. The condition can be caused by a number of factors including stress, a physical ailment, or diet and accordingly may either be incredibly simple or extremely difficult to treat.