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Wellness

8 Sleep Disorders You Could Have Without Knowing

6 Mins read

Do you know how common it is for sleep disorders to go undiagnosed? When you think about it, nobody is really watching you sleep, so sleep disorders such as bruxism (grinding your teeth while you sleep) could go undiagnosed unless you are aware of the symptoms.

The recommended amount of sleep is 8 hours per day which means you spend ⅓ of your life sleeping. Good quality sleep is the most important component of a truly healthy lifestyle. Ideally, you should be getting a proper night of sleep every night, because sleep deprivation impacts your quality of life and overall health.

Your body doesn’t just recharge itself at night, but it also heals itself best while you are in a deep sleep. Studies show that the body’s cells regenerate optimally during nighttime sleep. Besides, sleep is interdisciplinary because it affects every aspect of health as it influences how the vital organs perform, from metabolic rates to eliminating toxins in the body. 

Lack of sleep will not cause dark circles and eye bags, but it will also impact your physical and emotional health. Your physical and mental productivity greatly depends on the quality of sleep you had the night before. In addition, poor sleep can lead to mood disorders such as depression, especially when you struggle fulfilling your work and family responsibilities.

Most of all, lack of sleep will adversely impact your immune system. When this takes a hit, you will get sick more frequently due to bacteria and viruses. On top of that, chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease will creep up on you when you don’t get a goodnight’s rest. 

If you don’t feel rested when you wake up, or you wake up with pain, you could have a sleep disorder that you may not even be aware of. If you feel more tired after sleeping, it’s high time to evaluate your condition because you could be suffering from an undiagnosed sleep disorder. Below are 8 examples of sleep disorders you could potentially have without knowing:

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1. Bruxism (Grinding Your Teeth in Your Sleep)

How do you know if you grind your teeth while you sleep? Since you are not lucid enough to be aware of what’s happening while asleep, teeth grinding is one of the sleep disorders that can easily be missed. To discover whether or not you suffer from this sleep disorder, see if you have the following symptoms upon waking:

  • Jaw discomfort (TMJ issues are discussed below)
  • Headaches
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Dry mouth

Grinding your teeth in your sleep is something you’ll want to address since it can cause premature facial wrinkles, change the shape of your face, and cause chronic headaches.

Bruxism is not just grinding but also jaw clenching. Excessive and unnecessary jaw movements may lead to TMJ or temporomandibular issues. This joint connects the jaw to the skull in front of the ears. Pain in the area may lead to limited jaw movement and pain.  

People who occasionally grind and flex their jaws while asleep may do so due to stress. Studies show that people who have a family history of bruxism are more likely to experience this, too. Teeth grinding is therefore often a genetic condition. Unfortunately, you may experience this for the rest of your life, or it may disappear on its own eventually. Luckily, you can prevent serious damage by wearing a protective night guard. 

2. Sleep Apnea

You may be familiar with sleep apnea because it is a common sleep disorder mentioned on TV. However, if you live alone, you may not even be aware that you have sleep apnea. Often, people who suffer from this disorder are loud snorers. This is a result of constricted or blocked airways.

Sleep apnea occurs when you have shallow breaths while you sleep. It can even be dangerous because you may experience pauses in your breathing. If you frequently wake up gasping for air, that’s a major sign of sleep apnea. It is vital to discuss this with your doctor cause the following complications can occur:

  • Heart complications
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk for metabolic syndrome
  • Predisposition to obesity
  • Diabetes onset
  • Possible issues with liver functionality

3. Insomnia or Hypersomnia

Many people are familiar with insomnia. This is the inability to get adequate nocturnal sleep for long periods. Meanwhile, hypersomnia manifests as excessive sleepiness during the day. Both conditions will result in unrelenting fatigue during the day, making it difficult to perform your daily functions. 

Both conditions can also impair cognitive function and productivity. The lack of refreshing sleep can have negative effects on your professional and personal life. Both sleep disorders can result from the following factors:

  • Side effects of medication
  • Certain illnesses
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Daily habits like overly excessive screen time

4. Night Terrors

Night terrors don’t just happen to children. As an adult, you can have sleep disorders such as night terrors wherein you experience terrible nightmares that occur when you transition between the sleep phases. Though you may not recall the dream, you will wake up screaming or crying in fright. 

Usually, the terrifying dreams last for 30 seconds, but in some cases, they can last for a few minutes. You know you suffer from night terror when you wake up in a panic because it feels so real. You may experience the following:

  • Faster heart rate
  • Shallow and fast breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Open eyes with dilated pupils

These dreams play upon your phobias and insecurities, making them more alarming. If you consistently wake up in intense fear, you must seek medical attention to find the root cause of the problem. 

5. Somnambulism or Sleepwalking

Do you find yourself waking up in a different spot? You could be a sleepwalker. The most obvious sign is getting out of bed and walking around while sleeping. Some people even move around with their eyes wide open, but their mind is still asleep. 

For some people, sleepwalking is mild where they just mumble and talk in their sleep. However, for others, they can engage in complex activities such as playing an instrument, peeing in the closet, or even driving. Clearly, the latter is the most alarming because it can result in a fatal accident.

Sleepwalking even in your own house is dangerous because it can lead to injuries since you move without being aware of your surroundings. Consequently, you can fall down the stairs, bump into sharp edges, or use dangerous objects like knives and guns. If you suspect sleepwalking, you need immediate medical intervention. 

6. Restless Leg Syndrome

Although the movement happens in your legs, this disorder actually affects the nervous system. It gives you an urge to move your legs, like rubbing in on the bed. It is classified as a sleep disorder because it can interfere with your normal resting pattern. Signs of restless leg syndrome may show up as:

  • Feeling pins and needles in the legs
  • Having an itchy sensation in the legs at rest
  • Uncontrollable desire to rub the legs against any surface

The only way to alleviate these feelings is to move the leg. For some people, it’s not an issue because they don’t wake up with the movement. However, in more severe cases, the restlessness of the leg wakes them up. And it can also disturb the sleep of their bed partner, especially when they inadvertently end up getting kicked. Most researchers speculate that people who suffer from this issue have difficulty regulating iron in their bodies. 

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7. Confusional Arousals

This sleep disorder makes you seem partially awake. Often, you feel confused and disoriented regarding time and space upon waking. You typically remain in bed in a sitting position. Although your eyes are open, it takes a while to register your surroundings. People who suffer from this condition may experience the following:

  • Crying spells
  • Slow to speak
  • Difficulty understanding questions
  • Have trouble responding to stimuli

8. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that disturbs your sleep-wake cycles. It is often characterized by the following:

  • Excessive sleepiness in the daytime
  • Falling asleep anywhere and everywhere
  • Extreme fatigue

Just imagine being out with your friends and falling asleep without even realizing it. These sleep attacks typically last from a few seconds to several minutes. Narcolepsy can be really dangerous because what if you fall asleep while driving? 

If this often happens to you, you must seek medical attention to get lab testing and imaging of the brain to confirm this disorder. Although there is no known cure, there are certain medications, treatments, and therapies to manage the condition. Notably, narcolepsy runs in families, so if you have any relatives who suffer from this disorder, you are more likely to experience it as well. 

Are You Genetically at Risk of Certain Sleep Disorders? Get a Sleep Report Based on Your DNA

Many of your sleep patterns, sleep disorders and sleeping tendencies are based on your DNA. A DNA test from CircleDNA includes over 500 reports in 20 categories, including stress and sleep reports based on your genetics. It is vital to learn about the sleep disorders you’re genetically at risk of because you spend a major portion of your life asleep. Without sufficient rest, your immunity declines, and you end up with a higher chance of suffering chronic diseases that adversely impact your quality of life. 

Hannah Wabe
135 posts

About author
Hannah Victoria Wabe has an MA in Development Communication, which shows how just much she loves and believes in the power of words. She works part-time as a writer and educator but works full-time as a mother of three kids, ranging from 8 to 18. Though she’s not a big fan of math, she believes in counting blessings and imbibes an attitude of gratitude.
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