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Tired of losing sleep? Steve Kubas, M.D., a sleep specialist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna and Faribault, identifies common sleep disorders that might be affecting your life.
Take a breath: Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing during sleep. Other symptoms can include irritability, fatigue, heavy snoring and concentration problems.
A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is a common and typically effective treatment for sleep apnea. The device uses a mask to direct air pressure through airways to keep them open during sleep. Other treatments include surgery to open the upper airway space, and oral appliances can also be used to open the airway.
Dr. Kubas says that weight loss can frequently reduce sleep apnea as well.
Time for a change: Insomnia
“Patients with insomnia usually present with either significant problems getting to sleep at night and/or problems reinstating or maintaining sleep,” says Dr. Kubas. “People with insomnia are oftentimes clock-watching. They lay there trying to fight themselves to sleep.”
Dr. Kubas says much of the treatment involves education about sleep and healthy sleep practices. “Certainly some people are doing all the right things and still struggling, and they would benefit from medication. But most people can make lifestyle changes that will benefit sleep quality.”
Feeling restless: Restless legs syndrome
Restless legs syndrome is a common sleep disorder that causes an uncomfortable feeling in the legs, usually in the evening.
Different from the harmless habit some people have of bouncing their legs throughout the day, restless legs syndrome is an unconscious need to fidget that can create sleep-related disruptions, according to Dr. Kubas.
Providers typically check for low iron levels, which can be a contributing factor, but medications are available if the symptoms are frequent and bothersome enough.