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Shoals Sleep Center
201 W. Avalon Ave.
Muscle Shoals, AL 35661

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Shoals Sleep CenterLearn About Sleep Disorders

Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is a treatable disorder in which a person stops breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during a night. It is estimated that at least 10 million Americans have sleep apnea, but it can be misdiagnosed.

“Apnea” is a Greek word meaning “without breath.” Those with sleep apnea literally stop breathing in their sleep! An apnea is clinically defined in adults as a cessation of breath that lasts at least ten seconds; in children, apnea is defined as a cessation of breath that lasts the equivalent of two-and-a- half missed breaths.

There are three different types of apnea: obstructive, central, or mixed (which is a combination of obstructive and central). Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. Usually the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes the airway so that sufferers of sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during sleep, as frequently as 100 times an hour and often for a minute or longer.

People with untreated sleep apnea are generally not even aware of the awakening, but are only aware that they are sleepy during the day. They may, however, realize that they snore or gasp for air during sleep. Loud snoring, punctuated with periods of silence (the apneas), is typical but is not always present, especially in children.

Consequences of untreated sleep apnea include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Weight gain

People with untreated sleep apnea may also complain of:

  • Falling asleep inappropriately
  • Morning headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Feelings of depression
  • Reflux
  • Nocturia (a need to use the bathroom frequently at night)
  • Impotence
  • Children with untreated apnea may be hyperactive

Untreated sleep apnea, like sleep deprivation, may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle accidents. Apnea is a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • A large neck
  • A recessed chin
  • Male sex
  • Abnormalities in the structure of the upper airway
  • Ethnicity (African-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Mexicans)
  • Smoking and alcohol use

However, sleep apnea can affect both males and females of all ages, including children, and any weight or ethnicity.

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness. People who suffer from narcolepsy experience extreme tiredness, perhaps even falling asleep during the day at inappropriate times, such as at work or in school. A narcoleptic person will usually experience disturbed sleep at night, which is often mistaken for insomnia.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is a sleep disorder in which the patient involuntarily moves or jerks limbs during sleep, and has symptoms or problems related to the movement. The person experiencing these limb movements are rarely aware of them, but a bed partner often is. This disorder can lead to tiredness during the day because it disrupts your sleep at night.