cat suffering from a sleep dysfunction

3 Sleep Dysfunctions That Could Be Keeping You Awake

Most people who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep suffer from some variant of insomnia. There are more extreme sleep dysfunctions that are a lot more difficult to resolve than insomnia. In this article, we’ll explore three of the most common sleep dysfunctions:

  • sleep apnea
  • restless legs syndrome (RLS)
  • narcolepsy

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a commonplace sleep disorder wherein your breathing briefly stops as a result of the blockage of the upper airways. Pauses in the upper airways disrupt your sleep, resulting in waking up multiple times every hour. While most with sleep apnea can’t recall these awakenings, they might feel exhausted throughout the day, depressed and irritable. They may also see a drop in motivation and activity.

Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening problem. If you think that you or anyone else might have sleep apnea, go see a physician as soon as possible. Sleep apnea may be treated successfully with steady sure airway pressure (CPAP), Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a mask-like device that sends a stream of air while your sleeping. Elevating the head of the mattress, and laying on your side can lend a hand in both mild and moderate sleep apnea.

Signs of Sleep Apnea Include:

  • Loud snoring.
  • Constant pauses in breath while sleeping.
  • Snorting, gasping, or choking while sleeping.
  • Exhausted and sleepy after waking up and through the day, regardless of how much time you spent sleeping.
  • Shortness of breath, chest pains, nasal congestion, headaches, and/or a dry throat.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleeping disorder that causes a nearly impossible to resist urge to move one’s legs (or arms). This urge to move happens whilst you’re lying down on your back or resting. On a regular basis sufferers feel uncomfortable, tingly, aching, or creeping sensations.

Common indicators of Restless Legs Syndrome include:

Uncomfortable feelings and sensations throughout the legs, followed by a strong urge to move them. The sensations in the leg are brought about by rest and get worse during the night.

Uncomfortable feelings briefly get well whilst you stretch, move, or rub or massage your legs.
Constant jerking or cramping of the legs while sleeping.


Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder involving extreme, excessive sleepiness during the day. It’s due to a disorder of the brain mechanism that maintains control over sleeping and waking. If you suffer from narcolepsy, you may incur “sleep attacks” while in the middle of activities. (For example: talking, working, or driving.)

Common symptoms and indicators of Narcolepsy include:

  • Seeing or listening sounds while drowsy or starting to dream prior to becoming totally asleep.
  • Sudden weakness or loss of control when you’re angry, laughing, or experiencing other strange feelings.
  • Dreaming right after falling asleep or having dreams that feel intense.
  • Feeling paralyzed and not able to move whilst you’re waking up or falling asleep.


Education is Key

Conquering any sleep dysfunction starts with education. There are tons of places here and elsewhere online that will provide you with the knowledge to get you started. Taking an online sleep hygiene test will also be of benefit.

But an online research should only be the start. If you believe that you might be suffering from a sleep dysfunction such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or narcolepsy, seeing a medical professional is a next great step. Having a conversation with your doctor or medical professional and gaining their guidance will provide the clarity that you’ll need to create a plan of action.

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