About Sleep Disorders

Sleep serves a very important function, renewing our mental and physical health. However, Americans of all ages regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep. There are at least 84 different disorders that can cause our sleep to be compromised. The result is lowered quality of life and reduced personal health. Some studies even show how dangerous they can be if not treated.

Common Sleep Disorders

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

We can all agree that a vital sign of life, is breathing. Apnea means, to stop breathing. For the person with sleep apnea, that is exactly what is happening. When we sleep, the muscles of the throat and tongue tend to relax, allowing the airway to collapse. The result often is one of most common symptoms and probably most annoying to your bed partner–loud snoring. You may not notice it, but your partner may actually find times where there are pauses in breathing, followed by a loud gasp for air. That is sleep apnea at work. Besides the obvious problem with not breathing, each time the body gasps for that air, the sleep apnea patient is aroused out of the deep sleep needed for rejuvenation the next day.

For some, this pattern happens hundreds of times a night, leaving them extremely fatigued the next day. But what has the doctors most concerned is how the disorder can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attacks, sudden death, stroke and diabetes.

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Take action: Talk to your doctor and ask to be referred for a free sleep apnea screening kit available at the St. Joseph Sleep Disorders Center.

Take action: Ask your doctor if you need a sleep study at St. Joseph Sleep Disorders Center.


Insomnia is the term used for when you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. One in three Americans suffer with this disorder. Eventually untreated insomnia begins to interfere with your day to day activities. That’s when it’s time to seek help. There are different types and different ways of treating it. The secret is for you and your doctor to narrow down what the issues might be so it can be better managed.

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Take action: Track your sleep patterns and take them to your doctor

Take action: Seek help from the St. Joseph Sleep Disorders Center

Restless Leg Syndrome/Periodic Limb Movements (RLS/PLM)

If you have RLS you might find yourself feeling a tingling sensation in the legs during evenings or while you sleep. People often describe it as though insects or worms are crawling under their skin. It can go hand in hand with PLM which causes limbs to suddenly move or “jerk” while sleeping. Some 15 of every 100 people experience these discomforts at some time during life, but true diagnosis may require testing at the St Joseph Sleep Disorders Center.

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Take action: Talk to your doctor if you experience tingling in the extremities. Take your sleep partner to help describe if there are sudden limb movements during sleep.


Typically, a person with narcolepsy suffers “sleep attacks” or suddenly falls asleep at inappropriate times such as while talking, eating or driving. This sleep state is usually brief, followed by awakening that is often as sudden as the sleep state. Naturally, if this is happening during your daily activity, it should be evaluated by a physician, as it could be very dangerous.

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Take action: If a sudden onset of sleep is affecting you, by all means seek help of a physician or call the St. Joseph Sleep Disorders Center.

Shift Work Problems

For more than 22 million working Americans, evenings, rotating or on-call shifts are just part of the job. If you are one of these people, you know that sleep may not be something that comes easily to you. Nature designed our bodies to be sleeping at night. When that is not possible, you may need to get some help from the St. Joseph Sleep Disorders Center. We can help evaluate your particular situation, develop a sleep management plan to set you on a path to better sleep.

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Take Action: Track your sleep habits

Take Action: Call the St. Joseph Sleep Disorders Center for help

Other Sleep-Related Disorders