When Dreams Aren’t So Sweet

insomnia with clock in the night. woman can not sleep.

By: Erin Paul

The importance of sleep is well-known. You’ve been told by every doctor or parent that you should be getting eight hours every night. The magic number: eight. And while we have ingrained that number in our minds, there’s a lot of issues and disorders that keep you from getting those lusted after hours. Sleep disorders are generally changes in the way you sleep. In the US alone, there are 50-70 million adults with sleep disorders. And in college students, it’s more common than one would think. In a study done in 2010, it concluded that 27% of students were at risk for a sleeping disorder. Students reported insufficient sleep and a difference between weekday and weekend amount of sleep. Students at risk for sleep disorders were over-represented among students in academic jeopardy (GPA < 2.0). So, there could be a lot of reasons that you’re not getting your eight, and I’m going to go further into the most common sleep disorders.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder where your airway closes or partially closes while asleep. And during sleep, these tissues typically relax. Although, these tissues can get in the way by blocking your upper airway. Once your upper airway is blocked, this leads to you waking up for a brief moment, possibly for so brief a time, that you don’t even remember it. This leads to a broken sleep cycle which could explain why you feel exhausted after sleeping ten minutes. The symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness and tiredness
  • Morning headaches
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Insomnia

Narcolepsy is a chronic, neurological sleep disorder that includes excessive daytime sleepiness, catalepsy (which means feeling paralyzed in the head, legs, or different body parts after excitement), and abnormal REM sleep. This disorder is commonly misdiagnosed as well as under-diagnosed. So, if you were to have narcolepsy, you would feel sleepy during weird times like at school or at work consistently (not just one day after Tequila Tuesday). Again, this disorder is commonly misdiagnosed, typically with insomnia. The symptoms include:

  • Catalepsy
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations
  • Automatic behavior
  • Difficulties maintaining sleep
  • Obesity

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is a disorder which delays your sleep by two hours or more beyond what is a typical bedtime. So, it’s trying to go to bed at 12 AM so you can get eight hours in but not being able to fall asleep until 2 AM consistently. Having said that, it’s easy to see how common this one could be. The symptoms include:

  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • Having trouble waking up

Sleep disorders commonly go un-diagnosed so if you feel that you display some of these symptoms, it’s always safe to get checked out. Meanwhile, if you need some tips for sleeping (even if you don’t display these symptoms,) check out my articles next time! Sweet dreams.