Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are conditions that disturb your normal sleep patterns. A sleep disorder can affect your overall health, safety and quality of life. Sleep deprivation can affect your ability to drive safely and increase your risk of other health problems. There are more than 80 different sleep disorders. Some of the major types include:

  • Insomnia – being unable to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is the most common sleep disorder. It can be caused by high levels of stress; certain medications; anxiety or depression; and/or drugs or alcohol abuse. (Read more from the Yang Institute on Insomnia)
  • Sleep Apnea – a breathing disorder in which you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep. It is caused by a complete or partial blockage of the throat.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – a tingling or prickly sensation in your legs, along with a powerful urge to move them. Experts aren’t sure what causes RLS, but theorize that it’s hereditary. Medications have also been known to cause RLS. Pregnant women sometimes suffer from RLS. (Read more from the Yang Institute on Restless Leg Syndrome)
  • Hypersomnia – being unable to stay awake during the day. This includes narcolepsy, which causes extreme daytime sleepiness. It is frequently caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control REM sleep.

Importance of Sleep

Sleep is a basic human need and is critical to both physical and mental health. There are two types of sleep that generally occur in a pattern of three-to-five cycles per night:

  • Rapid eye movement (REM) – when most dreaming occurs
  • Non-REM – has three phases, including the deepest sleep

When you sleep is also important. Your body typically works on a 24-hour cycle (circadian rhythm) that helps you know when to sleep.

Sleep recommendations according to the National Sleep Foundation:

Sleep Recommendations
AgeHours of Sleep
Infant (4-11 months)12-15 hours
Toddler (1-2 years)11-14 hours
Preschooler (3-5 years)10-13 hours
School-age child (6-13 years)9-11 hours
Teen (14-17 years)8-10 hours
Young adult (18-25 years)7-9 hours
Adult (26-64 years)7-9 hours
Older adult (65+ years)7-8 hours

Sleep helps your brain function properly. Not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep has many potential consequences. The most obvious concerns are fatigue and decreased energy, irritability and problems focusing. The ability to make decisions and mood can also be affected. Sleep problems often coexist with symptoms of depression or anxiety. Sleep problems can also exacerbate depression or anxiety, and depression or anxiety can lead to sleep problems.

Lack of sleep and too much sleep are linked to many chronic health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Sleep disturbances can also be a warning sign for medical and neurological problems, such as congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease.

Treatments for Sleep Disorders at the Yang Institute

The Yang Institute combines western psychiatric therapies with Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to provide an integrative, individualized approach for each patient’s sleep disorder issues.