MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Most people know when they don't get enough sleep. Lack of usual focus, day-to-day function and grumpiness may be common symptoms, but there may be a culprit if there's no explanation for your sleepiness: a sleep disorder.
Board certified neurologist in sleep medicine Dr. Jeff Benjamin says sleep disorders are on the rise. Many disorders can be dangerous if left untreated.
"Undiagnosed, if you don't get it fixed, it can cause cardiac arrest, stroke, things like that…so, you know, if a loved one or yourself think you might have it and come and get checked, talk to your doctor," Palmetto Sleep Lab technician Michelle Defeo-Beerbower said.
Sleep apnea is when a person's breathing starts and stops while they sleep. Oftentimes, this person snores loudly and the loss of breath is noticeable to someone hearing it.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed (or complex). Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and occurs when there's an airway blockage. The blockage can be different things, depending on the person. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn't send the right signals to the muscles to control breathing during sleep. Mixed sleep apnea is a blend of the two types.
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, episodes of breathing cessation, abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath, morning dry mouth and sore throat, daytime sleepiness and irritability. Sleep apnea can be caused by other medical conditions, medications and obesity, and it can lead to stroke, hypertension, high blood pressure and heart attacks if untreated.
Sleep insomnia is another common sleep disorder. Insomnia is something we may have all suffered from at some time but for some people it can become chronic.
Your brain has a natural wake and sleep cycle. Interrupting that cycle leads to insomnia. The National Sleep Foundation says there's a lot of reasons for insomnia. A stuffy nose from the common cold can be a mild cause of insomnia, but more serious cases arise from chronic pain, asthma and other sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome. The foundation says if you have regular insomnia, it's a good idea to review your routines. Small changes like turning off the electronics and winding down thirty minutes prior to bedtime can help you fall asleep faster. If this doesn't help, there could be underlying problems and you should see a doctor.
Your doctor may refer you to a sleep lab. Several sleep labs are located in the Myrtle Beach area. Sleep technicians at the lab will monitor your heart, breathing patterns, oxygen levels and brain waves to get to the root of your problems.
Many disorders have treatment, but it ranges depending on the disorder.