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Concussions: Can they lead to sleep disorders?

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

As many as 2 million Americans a year are affected by concussions or other forms of traumatic brain injury, but many of them do not link their head traumas to sleep problems that develop after the fact.

They may not even mention head injuries to the doctors they visit regarding their sleep problems. And doctors may not take into account previous head injuries when interviewing them regarding their current sleep issues.

However, research continues to draw linkages between brain injuries and sleep disorders.

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Sleep and its impact on dementia

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Disrupted sleep is a common problem for people suffering from dementia. 

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all individuals who have been diagnosed with some form of dementia also be screened for sleep disorders; they report that "Two-thirds of those in long-term care facilities suffer from sleeping problems."

Treating some common sleep disorders, such as restless legs or sleep apnea, can help improve the quality of life for these people as well as reduce the severity of their symptoms by improving their ability to get enough protective, restorative sleep.

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Epilepsy and sleep: The silent struggle with nighttime seizures

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Epilepsy is a complex neurological condition with well-established ties to sleep health.

Its 2-way relationship with the sleep-wake cycle makes it difficult to diagnose, especially for those who only have epileptic seizures at night (nocturnal seizures). 

What is epilepsy and why does it share such common ground with sleep disorders?

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What is bruxism and how does it impact sleep?

Kristen Havens

Bruxism is the act of clenching or grinding your teeth, either out of habit or unconsciously. Though some people grind their teeth unwittingly during the day, most tooth grinders engage in what's called nocturnal bruxism — nighttime tooth grinding or clenching that occurs during sleep. Doctors and dentists sometimes refer to these people as "bruxers."

If you are a nocturnal or sleep bruxer, your upper and lower teeth come clench together forcefully during the night — with a pressure of up to 700 pounds per square inch. (Normal daytime pressure, if you were to clench your teeth right now while reading this article, would be 200 pounds per square inch.) 

There are two forms of night bruxism: clenching and grinding.

  • If you clench your jaw without moving it around, the jaw remains clamped together forcefully for a sustained length of time.

  • If you grind, your lower jaw moves side-to-side while clenched, making a distinctly unpleasant squeaking sound that can send your sleep partner running from the room.
Both forms of bruxism can lead to side effects like headaches and dental damage.

All bruxism is classified as a parafunctional behavior, meaning it's a movement of the body that serves no purpose. Nocturnal bruxism is considered a movement disorder, and it's quite often associated with other sleep disorders like obstructive apnea and restless leg syndrome.

However, if you grind your teeth at least 2 to 4 times per hour, your bruxism may be diagnosed as a sleep disorder in and of itself. (A sleep study would be required to verify this.)

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COPD: Breathless and sleepless at the same time

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now considered by the Centers for Disease Control to be the fourth leading cause of death in the US. 

The acronym, COPD, refers to 2 common breathing disorders: chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Both conditions make it difficult to breathe during the day while you are awake.

At bedtime, COPD can create nearly impossible conditions for getting adequate sleep. 

It can also worsen other preexisting (or undetected) sleep disorders.

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What is REM sleep?

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Rapid-eye movement sleep, or REM sleep, has captured the fascination of scientists studying sleep as well as dreams.

This unique cycle in our sleep architecture has a form and function distinct among the other “nonREM” stages of sleep.

We cycle through all the stages of sleep in a progression from the beginning (stage 1 nonREM) to the end (REM sleep) several times over the course of the night (see the chart below).

Adults spend between 20 and 25 percent of the night in REM sleep, while infants spend nearly half their sleep time in this stage.

In fact, it was while measuring the eye patterns of sleeping infants that REM sleep was first discovered.

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Causes of Bedwetting in Adults: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

causes of bedwetting Bedwetting in adults differs from bedwetting in children in a couple of important ways.

First, childhood bedwetting is fairly common, whereas in adults, bedwetting is uncommon: at most, two percent of all adults experience it, according to data from the National Association for Continence. 

Second, childhood bedwetting is considered an indicator of developmental problems with the bladder itself, whereas bedwetting in adults suggests an underlying medical condition that requires medical evaluation and, potentially, treatment. 

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