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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

1. What are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are conditions that prevent you from getting a restful, good night's sleep, which may impact your health, safety and overall quality of life. This may include problems with the quality, timing, and the amount of sleep you need.

2. What Are The Causes Of Sleep Disorders?

There are many conditions and diseases that can cause a sleep disorder. In many cases, sleep disorders develop as a result of an underlying health problem, which may include medical, physical, psychiatric, environmental, genetics and aging factors.

3. What Are The Warning Signs (Symptoms) Of A Sleep Disorder?

The warning signs and symptoms of sleep disorders may include excessive sleepiness during the day, trouble with your breathing or increased movement during sleep. Other signs and symptoms include an irregular sleep and wake cycles, difficulty falling asleep and snoring, uncomfortable feelings in your legs, and headaches.

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4. What Are The Most Common Types Of Sleep Disorders?

The most common types of sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia - difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

  • Sleep apnea - abnormal patterns in breathing while you are asleep.

  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS) - a type of sleep movement disorder that causes an uncomfortable sensation and an urge to move the legs while you try to fall asleep.

  • Narcolepsy - a condition characterized by extreme sleepiness during the day and falling asleep suddenly during the day.

5. How Much Sleep Do I Need Each Night?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep (9 hours or more) to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.

6. What Types of Treatments Are Available For Sleep Disorders?

There are several available treatments available for sleep disorders. Your individualized treatment plan will depend on what type of sleep problem you're having. Your doctor will provide you with a health assessment and discuss issues such as: your current medical condition, medications you ma be taking, stress levels, and caffeine and alcohol intake. Your doctor may also recommend that you participate in a sleep study.

7. What Is A Sleep Study?

A sleep study is a comprehensive test used to diagnose sleep disorders. The study assesses and records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements. Most sleep studies are typically conducted at night in a sleep disorders unit of a hospital or at a sleep center. Sometimes you may be able to do the sleep study at home using an at home sleep apnea kit.  

8. What Happens If I Do Not Get Enough Sleep?

The overall affects of sleep deprivation are potentially harmful to the human body. Researchers suggest that sleep is necessary for the body's systems to function in a proper manner. Too little sleep impacts our concentration, enhances mental and physical fatigue. Sleep disorders have been linked to a number of medical conditions, including depression, high blood pressure, heart irregularities, risk of heart attacks and stroke.

9. How Can I Get A Better Night's Sleep?

There are many ways to help yourself get a better night’s sleep. Below are a few key tips:

  • Establish a consistent routine for going to bed.

  • Try and exercise regularly on a daily basis.

  • Limit the amount of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco prior (several hours before) to your bedtime.

  • Adopt relaxation techniques that will help you unwind.

  • Create an environment that is conducive (comfy bed, dark and quiet atmosphere) to getting a good night's rest.

10. Where Can I Go To Get More Information On Sleep Disorders?

There is an abundance of information out there on sleep disorders. The Howard University Hospital Sleep Disorders Center has made it easier to find available resources. Please click on our Patient Resources page to access a list of recommended sites.

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