Overview of Sleep Disorders

KRH Sleep Center

What is a sleep disorder?

Sleep disorders include a variety of conditions that affect your ability to sleep well on a regular basis. A sleep disorder can cause other health problems and affect your quality of life.

One of the most common sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea, where there is a physical obstruction in the upper airway. The obstruction can be the tongue, tonsils, uvula, soft palate or any other tissue that prevents normal breathing. When the body relaxes during sleep and loses muscle tone, gravity pulls the obstruction down into the airway. The deeper you sleep, the more relaxed you become and the more likely you are to experience an apneic event. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea increases risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

Other common sleep disorders include:
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Periodic limb movement disorder

How are sleep disorders treated?

Treatments for sleep disorders are as varied as the disorders themselves, and can include medications, behavior modifications or surgery. The gold standard of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a piece of durable medical equipment worn while sleeping.

Driver Fatigue

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 21 percent of all fatal accidents involve a fatigued driver.

Whether the fatigue is from a lack of sleep or a sleep disorder, the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Sleep Center is a fully accredited sleep center that specializes in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, improving sleep and eliminating daytime fatigue.

Watch a video from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to learn how to recognize driver fatigue, its consequences and tips for prevention.