Sleep Disorders and Effective Treatments
Over the last 25 years dramatic advances in the ability to diagnose, evaluate, and treat disorders of sleep and arousal have led to the description of more than 60 disorders. All age groups from infancy through old age are susceptible. Some disorders are mild in their effects; others are life-threatening. Recognition of these disorders was brought about by improved knowledge of the physiology of sleep, as well as technological advances which have enabled many variables to be measured along with sleep. Within our bodies are over one hundred different cycles whose regular patterns affect the metabolism of our cells, the pumping of our blood, our intake of oxygen, and even our moods and states of consciousness (Goldberg,1978). When these cycles mesh with one another and with the rhythms of their environments, we are then functioning as nature intended. When the rhythms are out of synchrony, our bodies suffer. With the over 60 disorders discovered, sleep apnea and insomnia plague about half the world population today (Goldberg,1978). Narcolepsy, although not as common, is experienced by many people as well. These three disorders can be diagnosed correctly and proper treatment can be assured in correcting these disorders and sufferers can return to the proper cycle nature intend our bodies to follow.
The history of the sleep apnea syndrome is noteworthy because it is probably the first recognition of a disease due to a specifically sleep-related dysfunction of a system which functions normally during wakefulness. This led to the new concept of regulatory mechanisms possibly different during wakefulness and sleep, whose heuristic value has probably not yet been fully explored in all fields of human physiology (Thorpy,1990). Sleep apnea is defined as a group of serious sleep disorders in which a sleeping person repeatedly stops breathing (apnea) long enough