Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a health condition far more serious than what most would think of. Sleep apnea is a health condition that happens when one’s breathing during sleep stop for a while, usually 10 seconds or even longer. Sleep apnea could happen 5 to 45 times per hour.

Sleep apnea is usually associated with choking sensations and often leads to headaches and sleepiness during the day. Its moderateness or severity is measured with respect to the frequency of episodes per hour, whether you have no breathing (apnea) or slower breathing (hyponea).

Mostly in Males

Forms of Circadian Rhythms Syndrome/Disorders

night

Circadian Rhythm defects can come many distinct forms depending on the amount and timing of waking up and sleeping. Others, as in the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), result in the changes in the length of day and night.

People who tend to sleep at a later time of the day and wake up late as well are said to be exhibiting Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS). These people tend to develop insomnia, an abnormal inability to take adequate amount of sleep due to not being able to sleep at the right time of the night.

Still, other people, especially the elderly, are more likely to sleep early around 7:00 PM and consequently wake up early around 1:00 AM or 2:00 AM. This is a symptom of disrupted natural biological rhythms known as Familial Advanced Sleep-Phase Syndrome (FASPS).

The amount of a substance called melatonin is also perceived as a motivating factor in sleep-related disorders in humans. In a study among vertebrate mammals, melatonin is secreted in response to the absence of light.

This means more melatonin is secreted in the period of darkness and less in the presence of light.

Eyes, Light and Circadian Rhythms

Light and temperature provides the determining factor by which the body responds to the >24-hour activity periodsuprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus.

In complex animals like humans, the hypothalamus forms part of the autonomous nervous system which in part, controls the functions of organs that are not voluntarily controlled, hence involuntary. Involuntary, meaning, they are not governed by conscious will to act. These include breathing, heart beat and intestinal digestion.

One interesting point to make is that the location of SCN is just above the optic chiasma (cross). The optic chiasma can be described as a location where optic nerve fibers meet and cross (chiasma-cross).

It is fitting to say that, the perception of light through the opening in the eyes, triggers the wake/sleep patterns in humans since this is one way the organism receives such physical message.

Circadian Rhythms Syndrome

Sleep forms part of human’s biological need to rest. As a person sleeps, the various physiological processes of a human body figuratively are put into an apparent arrest and some parts of our system that were mostly exploited can be replenished for future use.

However, imagine a system so disrupted that our normal scheduling for sleeping and waking is totally altered. Some people tend to sleep early and wake up early in the morning and some cannot sleep early and as a consequence, wakes up late.

These and other sleep-related problems are manifestations of a malfunctioning biological circadian clock and characterize several forms of Circadian Rhythm Syndrome. Circadian activity is a unique 24-hour period or cycle in which our body is physically patterned.

24-hour vs. 25-hour cycle

Earth rotates around the sun in a 24-hour cycle, so as our body functions in this 24-hour time schedule. All living organisms subscribe to this cyclic resting and activity pattern so that their body may function in sync with the environment in which they live.

Although humans externally operate under a 24-hour environment, research found that our body clocks evidently works significantly different than what we see in the environment.

Treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome

Perhaps, one reason for unsuccessful treatment is due to patient’s attitude over the symptoms. Typical indications of the disease are ignored due to the symptoms unpredictable pattern of attack sometimes occurring during wakefulness or at night or in the middle of the sleep.

Symptoms usually last for days or weeks or usually progress to weeks and disappear for weeks or months. Pain eventually reappears with less intensity after a day or weeks and even for months.

These apparent incalculable occurrences of symptoms make treatment difficult to reconcile. More so, the disease may progress due to the inappropriate treatment applied as the symptoms are ignored.

Since causes remain unidentified, medical treatments are yet to be discovered. A couple of treatment is to relieve the symptoms and not specifically cure them.

Additional Findings

Restless sleep syndrome is usually confused with Periodic Limb Movement in Sleep Disorder (PLMD). Individuals affected by this disorder are identified with the same type of symptoms as in the case of RLS patients but the main difference is that, as the name suggest, it occurs only while asleep and is usually the main cause of insomnia in patients with sleep disorder.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a type of neurological condition which is characterized by painful leg muscles which continues unless they are drawn into physical action.

These distinctive symptoms are in some ways suggestive of motor and sensory malfunction in which uncontrollable urge to move is more prominent.

That means, as leg musculature are relaxed, the more frequent the occurrence of symptoms are. People with this disease feel an abnormally unpleasant feeling of muscle dragging which reduces in severity as the legs are physically maneuvered as in the case of walking or jogging.

It afflicts people of all ages and both genders. Given the current statistics, females and older individuals are apt to develop the symptoms.

Causes

Restless Legs Syndrome is of idiopathic type; meaning its exact cause and origin is not yet known. Currently, scientists are working on locating the part of the brain, which triggers the condition, and genetically identifying the gene which transmits such trait to other cells and other physiological and nutritional factors which activates the episodes of pain in the leg and foot region.

The conditions peculiar to this disease usually occur when the legs are in the resting state. Idleness triggers the symptoms by which this disease is known and manifests patients suffering from this ailment. Burning and creeping sensations are just some of the most common feeling. Collating all the symptoms, we can identify them as follows:

NS-RED Risk Factors

According to recent statistics, about three to nine people or about one to three percent of the total population are most likely to be affected by this disorder, with up to 15 percent of those who have eating disorders affected by night eating disorder.

Many of those affected by the syndrome diet (or at least try to) during the day, leaving them hungry and very weak to binge eating during the night when their control to achieve weight loss gets weakened by sleep. Some people have medical histories of drug abuse, alcoholism, and other sleep disorders such as restless legs, sleep apnea, and sleep walking. They often get tired upon waking up due to fragmented sleep. Many NS-RED cases seem to run along family lines.

How can you eat and be unable to remember doing so?

Actually, that could really happen. While research on this disorder is still not that comprehensive, there is a high probability that there are parts of the brain that are truly sleeping even though some parts stay wide awake. Also asleep are the parts that regulate your waking consciousness, so it is no wonder that you cannot remember any memories of gorging on food on the night before.

Night Eating Syndrome – NES

Has this happened to you?

You woke up one morning, and you found that there were wrappers of candy bar all over your kitchen. Incidentally, your stomach aches and you see that you had chocolate smudges all over your hands and face. Your parents or your husband tells you that you are up all night long eating, but surprisingly, you don’t recall that you did so. Your parents or your husband seemed serious telling you that you actually ate all those chocolates. Is there an inside joke?

Probably not. In fact, the symptoms show that you probably have a night eating syndrome.

Night eating syndrome, also known as sleep-related eating, is considered by medical doctors as a parasomnia. It is not a frequent sleepwalking type. People suffering from this disorder have experiences of recurrent eating episodes while asleep, without actually being aware that they are actually doing it. This nocturnal eating syndrome might happen most of the time that it would show significant gain in your weight. Although this disorder can affect people in all ages and sexes, the sleep-related eating affects young women more than men.

What is night eating disorder?