It is unfortunate that there is currently not any way to cure sleep disorders like sleep apnea or narcolepsy. These are conditions that disrupt the lives of those who have them and the lives of people around them.
There are over 90 distinct types of sleep disorders identified. 50-70 million adults in the US suffer from one of these. That is a lot of sleepy people!
The most common sleep disorders are:
- sleep apnea
- restless leg syndrome
- jet lag
Less known and rarer:
- Sleep paralysis
- shift work sleep disorder
- “sleeping beauty”, Kleine–Levin Syndrome
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
The safety risk of drowsy persons operating equipment like cars is one example. According to the Americain Sleep Association, drowsy drivers account for as many as 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries each year.
Sleep disorders also impact public health because it leaves people at risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke among other complications.
Considering these numbers it is understandable that the CDC has declared sleep disorders to be a national epidemic
When I was diagnosed with narcolepsy 20 years ago, I had basically no access to information about what was happening. I had a diagnosis and was greatly relieved about it. However, not much was known about exactly what the exact cause was within the brain. It seems that research has only recently begun to identify some factors involved in a narcoleptic brain. With this information comes a bit of hope that a cure is coming. At the very least, finding an effective treatment would bring relief to thousands of individuals.
Narcolepsy is only one of nearly a hundred different sleep disorders needing a cure. It seems like the medical research community has a lot of work to do in this area. I for one, am grateful for the answers that have been found and I applaud the efforts of everyone involved in this research effort.
The first step in treating any physical ailment should logically be self-care. Aside from intervention from the medical field, they are things we can do to alleviate our distress to some degree.
Exercise is certainly the most commonly recommended self-care method. Exercise can help improve every area of our lives including sleep disorders.
Diet and nutrition are also important considerations with regard to self-care. Many studies have found connections between various nutrient deficiencies and some sleep disorders. Being sure we get the proper nutrition is one simple thing we can do to help when we are looking to cure sleep disorders.
Personally, I have found that Vitamin D seems to lessen my daytime sleepiness a significant amount. What types of food I eat also affects my EDS. Thanks to Gina Dennis at Madcap Narcoleptic, I discovered that avoiding gluten improves my alertness drastically. I have read several sources that: suggest that magnesium imbalances affect sleep patterns as well.
Regardless of the type, all sleep disorders have one thing in common. That is the disruption of sleep and sleepiness. The effects of sleep disorders are enormous and finding a cure for sleep disorders would bring relief to millions of people.
In the meantime, we can be proactive in finding the best ways to cope with self-care and advice from our medical providers.