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Sleep disorders are a group of conditions which affect one's ability to sleep restfully for a stretch of time. It is not uncommon for people to have problems sleeping fro time to time because of stress, excitement, illness, or other influences.

Insomnia is the inability to either fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia can be brought on by stress, anxiety, jet lag, hormones, working shifts, or problems with the digestive system. It could also be a symptom of other health problems.

Some of the symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep, feeling tired even after a night of sleep, inability to nap during the day despite sleepiness, inability to concentrate during the day due to tiredness, and waking up multiple times during the night. Insomnia can cause depression, impaired concentration, moodiness or irritability, or weight gain.

Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the upper airways are temporarily blocked during sleep. Such a blockage happens when the walls of the throat relax, causing the throat to narrow, which in turn interrupts normal breathing. This temporary blockage causes labored or loud snoring, erratic breathing, and stressful sleep. Each interruption of breathing can last for a few seconds to a few minutes, and they happen numerous times during the night. Sometimes, a person with sleep apnoea will stop breathing during sleep. When that happens, the diaphragm and chest muscles have to work harder in order to open the collapsed airway and get air into the lungs. When breathing starts again, it is usually loud, with a snort or a gasp and a jerk of the body. It becomes dangerous when the lack of oxygen to the organs causes irregular heart rhythms.

Sleepwalking is a disorder that causes a person to get out of bed and walk around while still asleep. Sleepwalking generally happens between a deep stage of sleep to a lighter one. The sleepwalker usually doesn't remember these episodes. Usually, the eyes of the sleepwalker are open with a fixed, glassy star while moving around. When questioned about what he or she is doing, the sleepwalker is slow to answer, but usually won't answer at all.

Sleepwalking often runs in families, and research indicates that if you have a close relative who sleepwalks, you are ten times more likely to sleepwalk yourself than someone who has no close relatives who sleepwalk.

Narcolepsy is, in reality, a neurological disorder, but it includes an inability to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, so it is also considered a sleep disorder. People who suffer from narcolepsy generally get the same number of hours of sleep as those who do not suffer from it, but the quality of sleep is not good. Symptoms can include excessive daytime sleepiness despite the fact that the narcoleptic may have a full night's sleep and/or cataplexy, which is the sudden loss of muscle tone while the person is awake.



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