The office of a sleep spe­cial­ist does not look quite ordi­nary. The first thing that catch­es your eye is an ordi­nary bed. And she’s not stand­ing there because the doc­tor has to work at night. The thing is that many patients of this spe­cial­ist quick­ly move from talk­ing about the qual­i­ty of sleep to busi­ness. More specif­i­cal­ly, the bed is need­ed for car­diores­pi­ra­to­ry mon­i­tor­ing, as well as polysomnog­ra­phy. What do these pro­ce­dures mean and why you need to vis­it a som­nol­o­gist, we will tell you today.

The main symptoms of sleep disorders

The main symptoms of sleep disorders

It is known that almost a third of the adults in our coun­try are not entire­ly sat­is­fied with the qual­i­ty of their night­ly rest, as well as the sub­se­quent peri­od of wake­ful­ness. More­over, there is an opin­ion that in vil­lages peo­ple sleep bet­ter than in cities. This is due to dif­fer­ences in lifestyle and dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cy of stress. How­ev­er, not only exter­nal cir­cum­stances are to blame for the pathol­o­gy of human sleep.

Anx­i­ety or depres­sion, the so-called obstruc­tive sleep apnea syn­drome, some dis­or­ders of a psy­cho­log­i­cal or neu­ro­log­i­cal nature can dis­turb sleep. Sleep dis­or­ders can be iden­ti­fied by the fol­low­ing signs:

  • for a long time it is not pos­si­ble to fall asleep;
  • fre­quent awak­en­ings;
  • wak­ing up too ear­ly in the morn­ing, after which it is no longer pos­si­ble to fall asleep;
  • feel­ing tired in the morn­ing despite a long sleep time;
  • con­stant feel­ing of sleepi­ness dur­ing the day;
  • loud snor­ing dur­ing sleep.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many of us do not attach much impor­tance to these symp­toms, believ­ing that soon­er or lat­er sleep will return to nor­mal. If sleep dis­tur­bances become reg­u­lar or do not go away for a long time, you should con­sult a spe­cial­ist.

Doc­tors some­times have to lis­ten to patients com­plain that they do not sleep at all. Let’s just say it’s sim­ply impos­si­ble. Com­plete lack of sleep for sev­er­al days can be very dan­ger­ous. Per­haps that is why some doc­tors pre­fer instead of the word “insom­nia”, mean­ing the absolute lack of sleep, to use the term “insom­nia”, which means its vio­la­tion.

By the way, patients who com­plain about sup­pos­ed­ly com­plete insom­nia are not real­ly lying. It real­ly seems to them that they do not sleep all night long, and if they sleep, then no more than an hour a day. Doc­tors even have the term “sleep agnosia” to refer to this con­di­tion, that is, the per­son actu­al­ly slept, but did not notice it.

For exam­ple, a per­son is lying in bed and hears a noise in the street — the sounds of traf­fic, dogs bark­ing, and so on. After a while, he falls into a dream, and when he wakes up, he hears the same sounds. As a result, he is almost cer­tain that he did not fall asleep, but sim­ply closed his eye­lids for a cou­ple of sec­onds. In fact, the sleep time could be sev­er­al hours.

Treat­ment of sleep dis­or­ders is some­times, one might say, a vital issue. Patients suf­fer­ing from a symp­tom called obstruc­tive sleep apnea are more prone to heart attacks and oth­er dis­eases of the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem than peo­ple whose sleep is con­sid­ered nor­mal. More­over, sleep dis­tur­bance can pro­voke the appear­ance of depres­sive con­di­tions. Final­ly, con­stant sleepi­ness can have the most unpre­dictable con­se­quences. Imag­ine the dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion a sleepy dri­ver cre­ates on the road.

There­fore, if it is not pos­si­ble to rest nor­mal­ly at the pre­scribed sleep time, and this is 7–8 hours, or a person’s sleep is inter­mit­tent, dis­turb­ing, it is nec­es­sary to go to a spe­cial­ist. More­over, at present, doc­tors in this area have all the nec­es­sary equip­ment both to deter­mine the cause of the pathol­o­gy and to effec­tive­ly treat sleep dis­or­ders.

Human sleep: apnea and snoring

Human sleep: apnea and snoring

One of the sleep dis­or­ders are snor­ing, as well as obstruc­tive sleep apnea, which means breath­ing stops dur­ing sleep. Most of all, peo­ple over forty years of age, as well as those who are over­weight, are prone to this. Accord­ing to som­nol­o­gists, most of their patients are peo­ple whose weight exceeds 100 kg.

Sleep apnea and snor­ing are dif­fer­ent con­cepts, although loud snor­ing is often asso­ci­at­ed with obstruc­tive sleep apnea. How­ev­er, the fact is that sim­ple snor­ing is just an unpleas­ant prob­lem, unlike sleep apnea, which is the ces­sa­tion of breath­ing dur­ing sleep. This is not only a prob­lem that dis­rupts the qual­i­ty of night rest, but also a seri­ous dis­ease that pos­es a direct threat to human life.

Dur­ing sleep, the body is in a relaxed state, and the walls of the nasophar­ynx also relax. The action of air mass­es pass­ing through the res­pi­ra­to­ry tract caus­es the walls to vibrate, result­ing in a spe­cial sound, that is, snor­ing. As such, this phe­nom­e­non is harm­less. How­ev­er, when there is an intense oscil­la­tion, the walls can close, mak­ing it impos­si­ble to take a breath. Apnea occurs, that is, breath­ing stops. A per­son wakes up, though not always com­plete­ly. In most cas­es, he goes into a drowsy state for a cou­ple of sec­onds. At this time, the walls open, and a person’s sleep returns to nor­mal. As a rule, in the morn­ing he does not remem­ber that dur­ing the night he woke up more than once.

Imag­ine that a per­son is reg­u­lar­ly awak­ened through­out the night. How well will he feel in the morn­ing? Most like­ly not very much. And those suf­fer­ing from this syn­drome have a lot of micro-awak­en­ings per night. Hence the feel­ing of tired­ness in the morn­ing. More­over, if you cal­cu­late the time dur­ing which such patients can­not breathe, you get a rather impres­sive fig­ure. This con­di­tion can pro­voke oxy­gen defi­cien­cy, as well as anoth­er stress, accom­pa­nied by the release of adren­a­line and, as a result, an extra load on the heart.

Sleep apnea can be dis­tin­guished from ordi­nary snor­ing using a diag­nos­tic exam­i­na­tion car­ried out dur­ing the patien­t’s sleep — car­diores­pi­ra­to­ry mon­i­tor­ing or res­pi­ra­to­ry polyg­ra­phy.

In the past, sleep apnea was treat­ed with a tra­cheoto­my — punch­ing a hole in the low­er part of the neck, which ensured the unim­ped­ed flow of air into the res­pi­ra­to­ry tract. Today, there is a more humane method of treat­ment. To do this, a soft plas­tic mask is put on the nose, into which air is sup­plied using a small portable com­pres­sor. The inject­ed air does not allow the walls to close, as a result of which the dan­ger­ous syn­drome dis­ap­pears, and with it the unpleas­ant snor­ing.

Insomnia and insufficient sleep

Many sleep dis­or­ders have psy­cho­log­i­cal or neu­ro­log­i­cal caus­es. For exam­ple, the fact that a per­son wakes up ear­ly and then can­not fall asleep again, while he has a depressed mood, as well as a loss of inter­est in his usu­al activ­i­ties, may indi­cate the devel­op­ment of a depres­sive state. And when you can’t fall asleep in the evening because of anx­i­ety for one rea­son or anoth­er, the cause of the vio­la­tion is most like­ly increased anx­i­ety. In this case, the cause of the vio­la­tion must be elim­i­nat­ed. There­fore, instead of uncon­trolled tak­ing sleep­ing pills, it is bet­ter to vis­it a neu­rol­o­gist or a psy­chother­a­pist.

In the case when the cause of sleep pathol­o­gy is not psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems, the doc­tor pre­scribes an addi­tion­al exam­i­na­tion pro­ce­dure for the patient — polysomnog­ra­phy. Before a night’s sleep, a per­son is put on sen­sors that will record an elec­troen­cephalo­gram all night long, con­trol the lev­el of mus­cle tone, res­pi­ra­to­ry rate and oth­er sleep para­me­ters. After ana­lyz­ing the data after the patient wakes up, the som­nol­o­gist will diag­nose, and then pre­scribe the nec­es­sary treat­ment.

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