Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy, Insomnia, Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy, Insomnia, Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Psychology 101
October 13, 2006


Sleep disorders are more common than we realize. Because most people are not familiar with the signs of sleep disorders, they often suffer from their disorder or they are misdiagnosed. This research paper focuses on three main sleep disorders: Narcolepsy, Insomnia, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. For information, I turned to the World Wide Web. I was looking for clear, concise data on which to build the foundation of my research paper. There were countless information sources that support sleeping disorders and how to treat them. I used the information I found on four different websites to further describe the sleep disorders narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and insomnia.

Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy, Insomnia, Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep disorders are very common among men and women around the country. Unfortunately, many do not realize the symptoms of a sleep disorder. “At least forty million Americans each year suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional twenty million experience occasional sleeping problems.” (Ninds) This paper focuses on sleep and three main sleep disorders: narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and insomnia. Additionally, this paper will discuss the side affects and treatments for each.

How much sleep our bodies need depends on many dynamics, especially age, that are unique to each person. The typical adult needs only seven to eight hours sleep while children and teens tend to need more. In a deep state of sleep, growth hormones are released into the bodies of adolescences. Babies need long periods of sleep to enhance proper brain development. If you are sleep deprived, you will most likely need extra sleep time to catch up on your sleep debt. Having a sleep debt tends to impair judgment, rationality, and other sensory functions.

Why do we sleep? “Sleep appears necessary for our nervous systems to work properly.” (Ninds) Sleep deprivation can reduce your ability to concentrate and increase the likelihood of delirium and general irritability. While you are sleeping, your brain is busy at work repairing and replenishing your body. You may be resting but your brain is not, it is eternally awake and sending message via neurotransmitters to nearly every part of your body.

There are five stages of sleep: Stages one through four and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. “These stages progress in a cycle from stage one to REM sleep, then the cycle starts over again with stage one.” (Ninds) Each cycle lasts about ninety minutes. Stage one is a light sleep in which you may be easily awakened. As each stage progresses, sleep becomes deeper and it is harder to be awakened. The most important sleep is deep REM sleep. During REM sleep our breathing becomes quicker and uneven. Our eyes move or twitch behind the eye lids while our entire body becomes briefly paralyzed. REM sleep usually occurs near the end of the sleep cycle and is typically the stage in which we begin to dream.

Our eating habits and the medications we ingest, whether prescribed or over the counter, often have an overwhelming effect on how well we sleep or do not sleep. Caffeine, dietary supplements, and other medication can cause us not to reach REM sleep or not to sleep at all. “Heavy smokers often sleep very lightly and have reduced amounts o REM sleep.” (Ninds) Missing large amounts of REM sleep can leave us feeling drowsy or tired. Insomnia

Now that we know a little more about sleep we can explore its disorders. The most common of all sleep disorders is insomnia. “Insomnia, which is Latin for "no sleep," is the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep.” (Sleep Foundation) Women tend to be affected by insomnia more than men. While insomnia can be considered a stand-alone disorder, it is commonly caused by some other abnormality within the body. This sleep...
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