Sleep Disorders

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep is as fundamental to our overall health and well-being as eating a well-balanced diet and getting daily physical activity. During sleep our brains synthesize the day’s events, allowing brain cells to form links that form new memories and “pull it all together.” Sleep affects our ability to learn and retain new information, and affects mental focus throughout the day. It also affects mood and memory.

The body also relies on the restorative benefits of sleep. Without enough sleep, blood pressure and stress levels increase. Certain hormones fluctuate, which can cause weight gain. Our immune systems take a hit and we become more susceptible to common colds, viruses and diseases. Lack of sleep is also a common culprit in motor vehicle accidents not to mention a host of problems that affect people’s work and family lives.

Occasional loss of sleep is nothing to be concerned about, but if you’re consistently seeing certain signs and symptoms, you may have a sleep disorder. Here are some causes for concern:

Falling asleep

  • Having sudden daytime sleep attacks
  • Taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep
  • Falling asleep while driving, during social events, meetings, movies or at other inappropriate times

While you’re sleeping

  • Have uncontrollable movements of the legs before or during sleep
  • Snoring loudly and awakening yourself or others
  • Waking up gasping for breath
  • Breathing through the mouth while sleeping and frequently having dry mouth in the morning
  • Appearing to stop breathing during sleep

When you wake up

  • Feeling like you haven’t slept
  • Frequently awakening with a headache
  • Sleeping less than six hours per night
  • Waking more than four times a night
  • Walking, talking or screaming during sleep

Diagnosis and testing for sleep disorders

If you’re having trouble sleeping or experience sleep-related symptoms, the first step is to see your doctor. He or she will review your symptoms and medical history, and may schedule you for a sleep study. In a comfortable, relaxing facility during your normal sleep time, technologists will use state-of-the-art equipment to monitor your heart, respiratory system, muscle activity, brain activity, oxygen level, body position and sleep movements. For some patients, a home sleep study may be an option. Soon after the study, you will return to your doctor for the results and treatment recommendations.

The most common types of disorders are:

  • Circadian rhythm disorders – when the body’s internal clock becomes shifted due to jet lag, shift work, or other environmental disruptions
  • Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep without interruption due to poor sleep habits, lifestyle behaviors and stress
  • Narcolepsy – a genetic condition resulting in excessive sleepiness and symptoms such as uncontrollable naps
  • Parasomnia – a wide range of behaviors that occur during deep sleep, such as sleepwalking, night terrors, waking up disoriented, and acting out dreams
  • Snoring and sleep apnea – when you stop breathing for several seconds at a time many times during the night

Other sleep disorders include:

  • Night terrors
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep walking
  • Snoring
  • Teeth grinding



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Tongue Advancement and Tongue Base Reduction

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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

The Main Line Health Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery team helps you achieve excellent oral health. Our goal is to help you improve how your jaw, mouth and teeth work and appear, especially if they have been affected by a health condition or injury.


Sleep Medicine

Our expert team of sleep medicine specialists will diagnose and treat your sleep disorder so that you can get back to sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed.