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Understanding Sleep Disorders

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

By Steve Dingman

Sleep disorders can be disheartening and dangerous to sufferers. After a night of insomnia or sleep that is not restful, an individual with a sleep disorder may be distracted at work or drowsy behind the wheel, both of which can lead to deadly accidents.

Research suggests that as many as 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and as many as 40 million Americans experience chronic disturbances to their sleep. Because of the impact this type of disorder can have on a person’s life and well-being, researchers have devoted much effort to understanding what causes sleep disorders.

A variety of factors are often to blame: genetics, environment, and medications have all been targeted as sleep disorder culprits. Another common cause is working a night shift, which can throw off a person’s natural circadian rhythms. Even fairly ordinary events, such as stress at work or moving, can lead to troubled sleep. In some cases, sleep disturbances are caused by a malfunction in one part of the brain, as in one type of sleep apnea.

Individuals who experience sleep disorders that interfere with normal daily activities should seek medical attention.

About the Author

Steve Dingman serves as Drug Safety Physician with UCB, Inc., in North Carolina.