You May Have a Sleep Disorder If...
Wake up refreshed? Alert throughout the day? If not, you may have a sleep disorder.
Medications typically involve stimulants in attempt to increase the
level of alertness and antidepressants to control the associated conditions
noted above. The effects of stimulant medications vary widely and their dosing
and timing must be individualized.
- Provigil is a relatively new medication that improves alertness but
does not act as a stimulant for other body systems. It has few side effects and
low abuse potential.
- Stimulants include dextroamphetamine sulfate (Dexedrine,
Dextrostat), methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin, Concerta, others), and
- Antidepressants include:
- Multicyclics like Tofranil, Norpramin, Anafranil, and Vivactil.
- Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include Prozac,
Paxil, and Zoloft.
Seeing a sleep specialist is essential for proper diagnosis and
Many sleep disorders are secondary to a variety of
medical and mental-health disorders, pain, and even the treatments for
these disorders. Medical conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure,
emphysema, stroke, and others may have nighttime symptoms that disturb sleep.
Depressive illnesses and anxiety disorders are associated with sleep
disturbances, as is the pain from conditions like arthritis, cancer, and acid
reflux, to name a few.
Recognizing and distinguishing among sleep problems, primary
sleep disorders, and those secondary to or associated with medical conditions
is critical to proper diagnosis and treatment. It is equally important,
however, to realize that they often interact in a complex manner, with each
impacting the other. For example, poor sleep can affect your mood, and your
mood can affect the quality of your sleep. Poor sleep can contribute to
obesity, and obesity can cause sleep disorders. Exactly how all these factors
interact is not completely known, but we can target each aspect individually
and achieve vastly improved interventions and treatments.
The magnitude of the impact of sleep disorders on our
individual and public health, safety, and performance is truly enormous.
Fortunately, increasing awareness is leading to more effective treatment, less
suffering, and happier, more productive lives.
Originally published April 1, 2003.
Medically updated September 2004.