According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and another 20 to 30 million experience occasional sleep problems.

According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and another 20 to 30 million experience occasional sleep problems.


Dr. Jerry Reedy, medical director of the St. John's Sleep Center in Springfield, Ill., provides the details on how to know if you have a sleep disorder.


Q. What are some types of sleep disorders?


A. Insomniais the most common sleep disorder. This is when patients are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, so they have a reduced total sleep time.


This can affect their daytime performance. They might feel fatigued, have poor concentration and decreased motivation.


Obstructive sleep apneais a condition in which the back of the upper airway narrows or briefly closes up and no oxygen is gets into the body. These episodes can recur throughout the night. What is interesting is the individual can be unaware that they have a breathing problem overnight.


This condition can factor into having daytime sleepiness, which is a risk factor for falling asleep while driving. It can also cause stress on the heart and could cause a heart attack, heart failure or a heart arrhythmia.


Periodic limb movementswhile sleeping typically involves leg movements, and they can reduce sleep or quality of sleep for some people. For a lot of people, this condition results as part of aging.


Sleep related seizuresare seizures that occur with sleep. These types of seizures can reduce the quality of sleep or result in impaired daytime function. Some people can get injured from violent bouts of seizures. Other complications include tongue biting, confusion after an episode and urinary incontinence.


Narcolepsyis a unique neurological disorder that can cause excessive sleepiness and intermittent bouts of falling asleep suddenly and unexpectedly. A symptom might be cataplexy, which is sudden loss of muscle tone.


Another feature is sleep paralysis and happens in the transition from sleep to waking up, and the person can suddenly become monetarily paralyzed, or conscious but unable to move. A person with narcolepsy could also have hypnagogic hallucinations, which is not a dream. Instead, the individual is actually awake and has a sensory hallucination and can have visual, auditory or touchable sensations.


Restless leg syndrometypically happens when the person is awake and your leg can feel extremely uncomfortable while one is sitting or lying down.


Q. How can you find out if you have sleep disorder?


A.You can discuss your concerns with your doctor.


Q. When would you turn to a sleep center?


A.Some sleep disorders require a sleep test for diagnosis, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleep-related seizures and periodic limb movements.


Q. How can sleep disorders be treated?


A.When it comes to sleep apnea, it depends on the diagnosis. It can be treated with a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine.


Narcolepsy can be treated with medicine. Insomnia is usually treated with a doctor and involves cognitive behavioral therapy or medicine. If one has periodic limb movements that are a problem, this can be treated with medicine. Sleep-related seizures and restless leg syndromes are also treated with medicine.


Dr. Jerry Reedy is the medical director of the St. John's Sleep Center in Springfield, Ill.