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Sleeping Disorder Symptoms and How to get Relief

Posted in Head Pain on Oct 10, 2019

Sleeping disorders keep you from getting proper rest and, sometimes, if you do receive proper rest you still feel drowsy throughout the day. Sleeping disorder symptoms occur not just at night but during the day as well and sleeping disorder symptoms may have more of an impact on your life than you realize, as lack of sleep can change how both the brain and body function.


Sleeping Disorders Symptoms

Sleeping disorder symptoms vary depending on the type of sleeping disorder a person has. Below is a summary of different sleeping disorders along with their sleeping disorder symptoms:


Insomnia is the most common sleeping disorder with half of all people experiencing its symptoms on occasion and with around 10% of all Americans reporting they are suffering from chronic insomnia. Insomnia causes a person to have a poor quality of sleep because of the following:

  • Waking in the middle of the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up earlier than the person planned or desired
  • Difficulty going to sleep at night

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Some sleeping disorder symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Experiencing excessive daytime fatigue
  • General lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decrease in performance at work or school
  • Depression
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Mood and behavior disturbances (this includes impulsive behaviors, aggression, and irritability)
  • Feeling sleep was unrefreshing (still feeling tired after proper amounts of rest)

Insomnia may come from stress, anxiety, depression, anger, grief, bipolar disorder, or trauma. 


Sleep Apnea

The second most common sleeping disorder. Sleep apnea affects roughly 20 million Americans with an estimation of up to 80% not even realizing they may have sleep apnea. When a person has sleep apnea, their breathing stops for several seconds due to a blockage in the airway during the night, causing the brain to partially awaken from sleep and force more effort into breathing harder in order to get past the blockage.

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Those with sleep apnea have snoring, gasping, or choking sounds as their sleeping disorder symptoms because of how they breathe when a blockage occurs. While they sleep, the soft tissues in the throat relax and collapse into the airway – as this happens the oxygen is blocked from passing to the lungs. Snoring is a result of a partial blockage in the airway and a full blockage will result in an end to breathing, leaving the person to make gasping or choking sounds as breathing continues.

The blockage and difficulty breathing in sleep apnea makes the brain unable to get the proper rest it needs. When the brain enters the deep phases of sleep it allows the restorative tissue, bone, and cognitive functions to get you ready for the next day. Sleep apnea makes it difficult for the brain to enter these deeper phases of sleep, so the person ends up feeling tired throughout the day.

Since the brain forces the respiratory system to put more effort into breathing, it can also put a strain on the person’s heart and lead to various types of cardiological issues if it goes on without treatment: such as heart failure, heart attack, heart arrhythmia, and more.



Narcolepsy is when the brain is unable to control its sleep and wake cycles. This leads to people falling asleep suddenly during the day, also known as a “sleep attack”. These sleep attacks can happen anywhere at any time, making them quite dangerous especially if a sleep attack happens while the person is driving. Sleeping disorder symptoms for narcolepsy are the following:

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  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Cataplexy
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Disturbed nocturnal sleep
  • Hallucinations

Many cases of patients who have narcolepsy believe it is from the lack of hypocretin (or orexin), a chemical in the brain that regulates sleep. Having a hypocretin deficiency is believed to be due to the immune system receiving mixed signals and attacking parts of the brain that produces hypocretin.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder known by the persistent and overwhelming need to move your legs while resting. Restless leg syndrome sleeping disorder symptoms include an aching or cramping, creeping, pulling, throbbing, or burning sensation felt on the legs. These sensations make it difficult for the person to become comfortable and feel like the only way to get relief is to move or massage their legs.

Restless leg syndrome creates a negative impact on one’s quality of sleep. The constant feeling of having to move the legs to find relief makes it difficult for someone to fall asleep or stay asleep. The most common side effect of restless leg syndrome is sleep loss and other sleeping disorder symptoms of restless leg syndrome are like other sleeping disorders: Memory loss, cognitive impairment, depression, decreased quality of life, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

The cause of restless leg syndrome could be related to abnormalities in brain chemicals that help regulate your muscle movements or abnormalities in the central nervous system that controls your automatic movements.


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Can Upper Cervical Help Patients with Sleeping Disorders?

When we look back at the types of sleeping disorders, there is often an issue with how the nervous system works or how the brain and body communicate to regulate your sleeping habits and automatic functions. Upper cervical treatments focus on the functions of your nervous system and the link between brain to body communication – your brain stem. When the brain stem is disrupted, automatic bodily functions start undergoing negative changes. The brain stem allows the brain and body to communicate to each other and send out signals, but if there is pressure on the brain stem it will distort the messages and confuse your nervous system.

The top two bones of your spine (the Axis and the Atlas) are located right under the base of your skull and their purpose is to help protect the brain stem and provide mobility to the neck. When one or both bones are misaligned, they apply pressure on the brain stem and create an interference with the communication and signals the brain and body sends. Pressure on the brain stem changes automatic functions such as breathing, swallowing, blood pressure, and can make you feel less energized as your body is no longer getting the proper chemicals it needs due to the lack of communication.

The purpose of upper cervical treatments is to realign the top two bones to release this pressure placed on your brain stem and return proper communication to the body. This will open the area and allow your brain stem to breathe and work as it should. Patients have reported positive changes in their sleeping and breathing habits shortly after adjustments. It is also very common for patients with sleeping disorders to go home and fall right asleep without interference of any sleeping disorder symptoms as soon as the first adjustment thanks to the brain stem regaining its ability to allow brain to body signals to be exchanged to help repair, heal, and regulate your body’s sleeping habits.