Periodically, everyone experiences trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or being sleepy during the day. But when it becomes a chronic problem, you may have a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders take the form of:
- Insomnia – difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Sleep apnea – breathing interruptions during sleep
- Restless legs syndrome – a tingling or prickly sensation in the legs
- Narcolepsy – a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles
- Bruxism – often referred to as grinding of teeth.
Many of the sleep disorders can lead to serious problems if left untreated. For example, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is usually accompanied by snoring, can lead to serious cardiovascular and neurological problems.
OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. This condition can be treated by an ENT, particularly if there is some sort of abnormality in the structure of the throat, nose, or mouth which contributes to apnea or snoring. Medical and surgical procedures can help or completely eliminate these events.