Sleep problems and sleep disorders

We spend one third of our entire life asleep. This state of rest is urgently needed for the recovery of body and mind, because our organs and immune system recover during sleep. The brain also takes stock at night - it processes complex information and sensory impressions from the day.

Sleep is therefore vital.

Nevertheless, one in three of us struggles with sleep problems. Nocturnal restlessness and sleep-wake rhythm disorders, snoring and more profound sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing during the night) mean that we cannot fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. With the help of the mobile sleep laboratory, we can find out what is keeping you awake.

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In these increasingly fast-paced times, getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep - along with physical fitness - is a basic prerequisite for physical, mental and spiritual performance. Sleep disorders can be treated.

Photo Richard Birk
Prof. Dr. med. Richard Birk
Ear, nose and throat specialist, senior consultant at Marburg University Hospital, sleep doctor and somnologist

Sleep apnoea (sleep-related breathing disorders)

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep disorders. Since it is somewhat more complex and can be accompanied by several symptoms, we would like to explain it in more detail here.

What is sleep apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a sleep-related breathing disorder. Due to a decrease in muscle tension, the throat collapses during the night. This blocks the airway, which can lead to interrupted breathing (20-30 seconds on average).

What symptoms accompany sleep apnoea?

In addition to the interrupted breathing mentioned above, the signs of sleep apnoea are usually fitful sleep and loud snoring when breathing in and out. Restless sleep can cause daytime sleepiness, concentration problems, a tendency to fall asleep (microsleep) and headaches during the day.

Because sleep apnoea can lead to recurrent oxygen desaturation, it should be treated.

Is there a test to find out if you have sleep apnoea?

Simple self-tests are available on the internet to detect signs of sleep apnoea. Weight, height and age are entered into a test form. However, LunaLab sleep measurement, which involves professional, mobile sleep analysis in your own bed, is much more accurate and medically reliable. After only two days of testing in your home, our sleep doctors can detect whether you suffer from sleep apnoea and provide you with a treatment proposal tailored exactly to your needs.

What are the treatment options for sleep apnoea?

Numerous treatment options are currently available, such as nocturnal ventilation (CPAP = continuous positive airway pressure), positional training, sleep splints (UKPS = mandibular jaw advancement splint), surgical measures and neurostimulation of the upper airways (tongue pacemaker). In some cases, sleep apnoea can even be successfully treated by means of daytime exercises.

Snoring

One of the most common sleep problems is snoring: Almost every other man over 40 struggles with loud breathing noises during sleep. But women can also be affected. Many of us are familiar with one or the other: either being woken up by constant digs in the ribs or having our own sleep disturbed by an annoying rasping from our bed partner. This is confounded by the feeling of not being refreshed when you get up in the morning, despite sufficient sleep time.

Is snoring always harmless?

Although snoring is not strictly speaking a disease, it is always a nuisance. Through digital sleep analysis (sleep measurement), we can detect whether snoring is associated with interrupted breathing or irregular breathing. If so, then action needs to be taken quickly because it could be a symptom of a serious condition like obstructive sleep apnoea (see above).

What can help with snoring?

There are also a number of treatment options for non-diseased snoring, such as positional training, sleep splints or minimally invasive surgical measures.

Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep and sleeping through the night)

Insomnia is a condition where people cannot sleep. Older people in particular suffer from this problem, and it tends to affect more women than men.

What are the signs of insomnia?

Of course, we all have trouble sleeping or falling asleep once in a while. With insomnia, however, the problems with falling asleep and staying asleep occur several times a week and last for weeks at a time.

A very typical feature of this sleeping disorder is that those affected always feel tired, but are also unable to sleep during the day. This means that days, and not just the nights, become torture.

What are the treatment options for insomnia?

Insomnia is mainly treated by means of behavioural therapy, but can also be treated with medication. A special app can also help with insomnia.

Hypersomnia (sleep addiction)

The correct translation for this is "sleep addiction". The consequence of hypersomnia is increased daytime sleepiness. Those affected have a tendency to fall asleep involuntarily during the day - especially in monotonous situations.

What treatment is available for hypersomnia?

Depending on the clinical picture, treatment can be either medication, behavioural therapy or sleep hygiene.

Sleep-wake rhythm disorders

Simply not being able to sleep when you really should. Or being tired/sleepy at a bad time - a sleep problem that doesn’t just affect veteran shift workers. Anyone who goes on a long-distance trip also feels disturbed sleep rhythm in the form of jet lag.

What can be done about sleep-wake rhythm disorders?

It is important to first rule out an organic cause. This can be done by performing mobile sleep analysis. Treatment measures for sleep-wake rhythm disorders also include light therapy, sleep training, medication and sleep hygiene.

Nocturnal movement disorders

Tingling in the legs, kicking the covers off at night or heavy grinding of the teeth - all of these can keep your bed partner awake. Restless legs syndrome in particular can lead to significant constraints and cause a great deal of suffering.

Nocturnal movement disorders and treatment options

Most of these disorders are treated with medication. A number of effective medications are now available on the market. In the case of nocturnal teeth grinding, a specially made bite splint helps to prevent damage to the teeth and to relax the jaw joints.