sleep_logoRecent advances in sleep medicine have expanded our understanding of the importance of sleep.  This expanding base of knowledge has opened the door to defining, diagnosing, and treating the wide range of sleep disorders.  This is great news for those who struggle to get the sleep they need on a regular basis because they have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.  It is also great news for the rest of us who may be struggling to get the sleep we need due to a sleep disorder we don’t know we have. Experts agree that a large percentage of sleep disorders are undiagnosed which means millions of people are suffering the consequences of sleep disorders without any hope for relief.

The biggest barrier to diagnosis is knowing that there is a problem.  Many people just chalk their sleepless nights up to insomnia or decide they aren’t sleeping well because of stress or caffeine or some other non-medical reason.  They don’t realize that their symptoms point to a specific sleep disorder and many of us never discuss sleep with our primary care physicians.  If we don’t know there is a problem, we cannot communicate effectively with our physician and we have no hope of relief from the symptoms.

There are more than 70 documented sleep disorders, most of which are unfamiliar to the general population.  The symptoms of sleep disorders can be varied and are not always directly related to how we are sleeping or how tired we are.  This, when combined with our societal attitudes about sleep, means that without more information, many sleep disorders are likely to continue to go undiagnosed.  To combat this, organizations like the National Sleep Foundation are working to get information about sleep disorders in front of everyday Americans.

Through their efforts and the efforts of other groups, foundations, and organizations, there is more comprehensive information available about sleep disorders than ever before.   If you are struggling to get the sleep you need and wondering if a sleep disorder could be to blame, the detailed information on symptoms, causes, risk factors, consequences, and treatment options now available can help you decide if it’s time to talk to your physician.  To help you in your search, here are some of the best resources for sleep disorder information.

The National Sleep Foundation Website

The National Sleep Foundation’s website provides a wealth of information on a wide range of sleep topics including sleep disorders.  The site’s navigation makes it easy to see find information on broad sleep topics and to drill down and get information on a specific sleep disorder.  Some of the sleep disorders covered specifically include:

The Sleep Disorders, a publication of the National Sleep Foundation

This site provides access to an eBook version of The Sleep Disorders by Dr. Peter Hauri, PhD.  The eBook format makes it easy to navigate throughout the various sections of the book.  While the focus of the book is sleep disorders, there is also a comprehensive section on what constitutes normal sleep that can be beneficial in helping readers understand if the sleep struggles they are experiencing are within the normal parameters of human sleep and when they are not.  The book is broken down into the following categories:

Medline Plus provided by the U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

This site offers a wide range of information on sleep and sleep disorders that is pulled from many of the government organizations responsible for research and education on health related topics like the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Centers for Disease Control.  Here you can find everything from general information to links to the latest research.