Have you ever had a nightmare so vivid that you worried it might be real?

Or woken from a dream with a feeling that you might not actually be awake? These are some of the feelings you might have during an episode of sleep paralysis, but there are much scarier symptoms as well.

Sleep paralysis is a type of parasomnia in which you are conscious but unable to move your body.

It can happen when you’re falling asleep or as your waking up, and these episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. As you lie there, unable to move, you may be overcome by an increasing sense of anxiety or fear – some people even hallucinate.

Though sleep paralysis may make you feel as if you are living a nightmare, it is generally not an indication of an underlying psychiatric disturbance.

It happens when your body has trouble moving from one sleep stage to the next, and it can result from stress, sleep deprivation, or other sleep conditions.

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of sleep paralysis in depth, providing an overview of what it is, what symptoms it causes, and how it is related to other sleep disorders. We’ll also provide information about diagnosis and treatment options.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is classified as a parasomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the term parasomnia refers to abnormal things that occur during sleep. Examples of other parasomnias include sleep walking, sleep-related eating disorder, and nightmares.

In order to understand sleep paralysis, you need to understand the way your body moves through the different stages of sleep.

There are four stages of sleep – three stages of non-REM (NREM) sleep and REM sleep.

The first is the lightest stage of NREM sleep and is characterized by slow eye movements and relaxed body tone and brain wave activity.

Stage 2 is the first clearly defined stage of NREM sleep in which brain waves continue to slow with specific bursts of rapid activity known as sleep spindles. The third stage is deep NREM sleep, the most restorative stage.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is the dreaming stage. Your brain becomes more active during this stage, and your eyes move quickly from side to side.

Sleep paralysis is often described as an extension of this dream state. As such, it is technically harmless, but it can be accompanied by unpleasant symptoms and hallucinations which can be unsettling or even scary.

What exactly is sleep paralysis?

When you are asleep, your brain allows your muscles to relax – this is called atonia. Sleep paralysis is atonia that occurs while you are conscious.

During an episode of sleep paralysis, you may feel as though you are awake but may be unable to move or speak.

You’re still able to breathe normally, but your ability to move your arms, legs, head, and body is lost. You’ll be fully aware of what is happening but may be unable to break free from the episode.

For many people, episodes of sleep paralysis can be very scary. As you become more aware of the parasomnia, you may start to feel increasingly more anxious and afraid. Some people even experience hallucinations in which they are able to see, hear, or feel things that aren’t really there – one of the most common hallucinations is the feeling that someone else is in the room.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis?

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

Many people who experience sleep paralysis have their first episode during the teen years. The condition typically occurs most frequently during the 20s and 30s but may taper off into the later years. Though it appears most commonly in adolescents aged 14 to 17, sleep paralysis can affect men and women of any age.

According to a systematic review, an estimated 7.6% to nearly 35% of people have the condition and having a relative with sleep paralysis increases your risk.

You may also be more likely to develop sleep paralysis if you are sleep-deprived or have a sleep schedule that changes frequently.

Chronic stress is a risk factor as well, and you may be more likely to experience sleep paralysis when sleeping on your back.

The use of certain medications and concurrent psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder or panic disorder have also been linked to sleep paralysis.

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep paralysis include the following:

  • Inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations (such as a sense of evil presence, a feeling of being touched, or hearing voices or noises)
  • Seeing faces or people standing by the bed
  • A sense of breathlessness or pressure on the chest

There are two types of sleep paralysis: hypnopompic and hypnagogic.

Hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs while you are waking from sleep while hypnagogic sleep paralysis happens while falling asleep.

Again, it is thought to be a problem related to the regulation of REM sleep because the body is physically paralyzed by sleep, but the mind is awake.

What Causes Sleep Paralysis?

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

Estimates regarding the prevalence of sleep paralysis vary and certain populations seem to be affected at a higher rate than others.

For example, in a study of college students, as many as 21% were found to have experienced at least one episode while only 4% had experienced 5 or more.

People with certain psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder may have a higher risk, as do people who frequently use or abuse drugs and alcohol.

The cause of sleep paralysis is simply a disruption in the transition between sleep stages or between sleeping and waking.

Though this is the underlying cause, there are several things which can trigger an episode of sleep paralysis, including the following:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Changes in sleep schedule
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Using certain medications
  • Sleep disorders

Sleep paralysis is a symptom of several sleep disorders including narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea.

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and, in some patients, uncontrollable attacks of sleep.

Another condition that has been linked to sleep paralysis is obstructive sleep apnea.

People with this condition experience periodic cessations in breathing during sleep which can trigger the brain to wake the body. Symptoms are most likely to occur when sleeping on the back, which may be why it is also linked to sleep paralysis.

Though sleep paralysis is known to be a physical phenomenon, it has a long history of association with supernatural or paranormal experiences.

Sleep paralysis has occurred throughout history and, prior to modern medicine, it was given many unscientific explanations such as the following:

  • Paranormal encounters such as ghosts, demons, or devils
  • Supernatural beings such as aliens
  • Near-death experiences
  • Underlying psychiatric disturbances
  • Intense dreams or nightmares

The important thing to remember is that while episodes of sleep paralysis may be unpleasant or scary, they are not inherently dangerous.

For many people, sleep paralysis is an isolated incident, but if it starts to happen with some regularity, you may want to talk to your doctor. The explanation could be as simple as stress or a new medication, but it is worth your peace of mind to find out.

How is Sleep Paralysis Diagnosed?

How is Fatigue Diagnosed

As a parasomnia and a symptom of several sleep disorders, sleep paralysis is not considered a clinical diagnosis in most cases.

You may, however, want to seek treatment or at least consult your primary care physician if you experience the following:

  • You have episodes of sleep paralysis on a regular basis
  • You start to experience anxiety about going to sleep
  • You have difficulty falling asleep at night
  • You fall asleep suddenly during the day or at inappropriate times
  • You experience excessive daytime sleepiness

Feeling excessively sleepy during the day or falling asleep uncontrollably are both symptoms of narcolepsy which is a serious but treatable condition.

Even if you don’t have narcolepsy, there are still things that can be done to manage or reduce the risk of sleep paralysis. The first step, however, is talking to your doctor about your concerns.

To gather more information about your symptoms, your doctor may do the following:

  • Ask you to describe your symptoms in detail
  • Request that you keep a sleep diary for 7 days or so
  • Discuss your medical history and family history, including sleep disorders
  • Conduct an overnight sleep study or daytime nap study
  • Refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation

The primary goal of diagnosis for sleep paralysis is ruling out underlying conditions which may be contributing to your symptoms.

If your doctor doesn’t think you have a sleep disorder or contributing medical condition, you might still benefit from seeing a sleep specialist or a counselor who might be able to help you identify potential triggers such as stress or an underlying psychiatric condition.

What Are the Treatment Options for Sleep Paralysis?

Because sleep paralysis is not technically a sleep disorder or medical problem, it may not require treatment. You may, however, be wondering whether there is anything you can do to stop an episode once it starts. In some cases, concentrating very hard on moving your body in some way might be able to help you break through – another option is to simply wait to fall back asleep or for it to pass.

If you find yourself becoming anxious, try to focus on your breathing as one thing you can fully control – remind yourself that the episode is temporary and that it won’t hurt you.

If you begin to experience hallucinations, you might try imagining yourself as a character in a horror film as a way of staying in control of the situation and keeping as calm as possible.

If all else fails, engage your mind by thinking of something else entirely until the moment passes, or you fall back asleep.

Dealing with an episode of sleep paralysis as it happens is one thing, but what can you do to prevent it from happening again or, at the very least, to reduce the likelihood?

The first step in treating sleep paralysis is to think about any underlying factors that might be at play. If you’ve been particularly stressed or sleep-deprived lately, that could certainly be a factor. Sleeping on your back rather than your stomach or side can sometimes trigger an episode, and substances that affect your sleep cycle can be a factor as well. If your doctor has diagnosed you with another sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy, treating that condition may resolve your symptoms.

Here are some other things you can try to treat or prevent sleep paralysis:

  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule. One of the main triggers for sleep paralysis is sleep deprivation, so creating and sticking to a regular sleep schedule with consistent bedtimes and wake times may help you get the sleep you need.
  • Improving your sleep hygiene. Getting better quality sleep and staying asleep through the night may reduce the risk for episodes of sleep paralysis. It may help to keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and you should limit screen time in the evenings.
  • Using antidepressant medication. In some cases, a brief course of antidepressant medication might help to regulate your sleep cycle and prevent sleep paralysis. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), for example, suppress REM sleep and may prevent sleep paralysis.
  • Take steps to manage your stress. Mental stress is a key trigger for sleep paralysis, so taking steps to relax and reduce your stress may help. Try meditation or breathing exercises and make time to do a relaxing activity for 30 minutes before bed.
  • Try different sleeping positions. Many episodes of sleep paralysis occur when the patient is sleeping on their back, so try sleeping on your side or on your stomach, if it’s comfortable.
  • Talk to your doctor about medications you are taking. In some cases, sleep paralysis can be a side effect of medication, or it can be triggered by a change in medications. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking to see if it might be a factor in your sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis can be an unsettling experience at best and a terrifying one at worst.

Though there is no risk of physical harm during these episodes, experiencing just one is more than enough for most people.

If you’ve experienced sleep paralysis or if you have recurring episodes, it may be worth talking to your doctor to identify potential triggers or underlying medical factors.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, clinical diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your personal physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About Kate Barrington Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Kate also holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness topics including sleep hygiene, natural remedies, and sleep disorders. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of holistic health companies and writes product reviews about mattresses and other sleep solutions.

Best Bunk Beds For Children image

Children’s rooms are the center of their world.  They sleep, play, read, do homework and countless other things in there.  Because of this, they are usually quite crowded and extra space comes at a premium, and this is only multiplied if you have multiple children sharing a bedroom.  

Quick Look at Our Top 5 Picks

  • Full metal frame that gives support and stability
  • Available in grey, blue and pink
  • Metal guardrail on the top bunk
  • Uses a built-in staircase rather than a traditional ladder
  • 5 drawers for storage
  • Can be separated into two single beds
  • Sturdy New Zealand pine wood construction
  • 400 lb weight capacity per bed
  • Beds can be easily separated
  • Fits full size mattress on the bottom
  • Solid metal frame
  • Great price
  • Stylish, classic design
  • Full length guard rails
  • Made from solid rubberwood

If you are a parent and have found yourself in this predicament, then you probably already know that bunk beds can be a lifesaver! They are the perfect space-saving option for children who are sharing a bedroom and they really allow your children plenty of space to still be able to enjoy their bedroom.  Plus, there are some really great options available out there!

Editor’s Choice for Best Bunk Beds for Children

Editor’s Choice
Novogratz Maxwell Twin/Full Metal Bunk Bed
Our top choice is Novogratz’s Maxwell Twin/Full Metal Bunk Bed because of its great value, sleek, modern design, safety design and its ability to accommodate a full and a twin size mattress.
  • Modern design
  • Solid metal build
  • Allows for a full-size mattress on the bottom
  • Safety rails for the top bunk
  • The ladder is built into the frame rather and doesn’t sit on the floor

What factors should you consider before purchasing?

  • Practicality vs. Fun: Children’s beds come in a large variety of designs, from ones designed as race cars or your child’s favorite cartoon character to simple basic wooden or metal frames.  Ideally, the best options are ones that fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. Of course, you want a bed frame your child will love and be excited about, but also not one that he will outgrow in just a few short years.  You want to make sure the model makes sense for your kid at his or her’s current age, but also will it still make sense for them in a few years.
  • Durability: Kids love to play on their beds, and of course, this includes jumping up and down on it.  Even though children are small, they do put a lot of wear and tear on their beds, so you want to make sure you buy them a bed frame that will hold up for the long run.  Also, with bunk beds, given the height, they can be a bit less stable. Make sure you are investing in one that has a solid design and will stand the test of time, and in doing so, keep your children safe.
  • Safety: I’m sure all you parents don’t need to be reminded of this, but it’s good to mention safety anyways.  As parents, your child’s safety and well being is always a top priority. You want to make sure the bed that you buy them is also appropriate for their age and size.  If your child is really young, some options might not work, if your child is older, some beds might not still hold up under their weight. With bunk beds especially, you need to keep safety in mind.  Make sure there are guard rails on the top bunk, that will actually protect your child from rolling off. Also, make sure the ladder is stable and can be securely attached to the bed.

Top 5 Children’s Bunk Bed Options For You:

Novogratz Maxwell Twin/Full Metal Bunk Bed

The Novogratz Maxwell Metal Bunk Bed is a sturdy, stable, and great looking option that is available in grey, navy or pink.  This bunk bed fits a full size mattress on the bottom level and a twin sized on the top, but it is also available in a twin and twin option. The full and twin option is a great possibility, especially if you have one child who is older and could use some more space when they sleep.

The metal frame features a metal safety guardrail on the top bunk to keep your children from falling off.  Also, this frame has metal slats that allow you to use a mattress without a box spring. The metal is silent, so that means one sibling moving around, will not wake up the other.  Another great feature of this bed is that the ladder is attached to the bottom bunk, not just the top, to give it extra stability.


  • Full metal frame that gives support and stability
  • Available in grey, blue and pink
  • Supports a full-size mattress on the bottom and a twin on the top
  • Metal guardrail on the top bunk
  • Does not require a box spring


  • Round ladder rungs are not as easy to use as flat ones

Bedz King Stairway Bunk Bed

Although it is a bit on the expensive side, the Stairway Bunk Bed from Bedz King is solid, sturdy, safe, and offers lots of additional storage.  It is a perfect option if you are still looking for ways to save more space in your children’s bed room. Unlike most bunk beds, this one uses a staircase design instead of a ladder.  This can be really helpful, especially if you have younger children who will be using this bed.

Bedz King has taken advantage of the available space that comes with adding a staircase and included three spacious drawers built directly into the staircase.  They also have included two more additional drawers underneath the bottom bunk. These five drawers give you loads of storage, perfect for clothes, toys or additional bed linens.

Another great feature of this bed is that it can be separated into two single beds if your children even decide they don’t enjoy having bunk beds anymore.  

The Bedz King Stairway Bed is available in cappuccino, espresso, gray and honey colors.


  • Uses a built-in staircase rather than a traditional ladder
  • 5 drawers for storage
  • Can be separated into two single beds
  • Uses lots of screwed down slats to protect against falling through
  • Comes with all the tools needed for assembling
  • Available in 4 colors


  • No written directions, just pictures
  • The bottom bed doesn’t have a lot of additional headroom

Max and Lily Solid Wood Bunk Bed

This classic style bunk bed from Max and Lily is built with the utmost quality.  It’s made from solid, durable, knot-free New Zealand pine and is so sturdy that it has a 400 pound weight capacity for each bed individually!  They also use metal on metal structural connections so that they won’t loosen over time.

Max and Lily’s bunk bed features a reversible ladder with rounded edges and grooved treads for comfortable, easy and safe climbing.  They also include a 14-inch guard rail, which allows you to use as thick of a mattress up there as you want, and still have plenty of protection.  

The beds can also be easily separated and used individually if you ever want or need to.  Max and Lily also offer so many different variations of this bed, to suit whatever your needs are.  They offer it in a standard twin/twin, as well as twin/full and full/full. You can also purchase additional drawers for underneath the bed or even a trundle bed for when friends come to visit!  Not to mention it is available in 4 great colors, white, grey, espresso, and natural.


  • Sturdy New Zealand pine wood construction
  • 400 lb weight capacity per bed
  • Beds can be easily separated
  • 14-inch high guard rail on top bunk
  • Available in 4 colors and 3 size variations
  • Additional features can be purchased at any time


  • Uses stickers to cover the screw holes
  • Some owners mentioned that the bed had a bit of a smell when first purchased

Zinus Hani Metal Bunk Bed

A great, low price option, the Zinus Hani Metal Bunk Bed is a modern designed, sturdy steel bunk bed.  The solid steel frame offers plenty of safety for your children, especially those sleeping on the top bunk, as does the built in steel guard rail along the side.  The 4-step ladder is also attached to the bed at the top and this gives it added security as well.

The Hani bunk bed is very quiet, which is great for when one sleeper moves around a lot in their sleep.   It is easy to assemble and comes with a worry-free 5-year warranty.

This model allows for a full-size mattress on the bottom and twin size on the top.


  • Fits full size mattress on the bottom
  • Solid metal frame
  • Great price
  • Easy to assemble
  • Very quiet
  • Guard rail along the top bunk
  • 5-year warranty


  • Ladder rungs can be painful on older children’s feet

Storkcraft Caribou Solid Hardwood Twin Bunk Bed

The Storkcraft Caribou offers a stylish, classic design that is available at a very good price.  The Caribou is available in four great color options, gray, espresso, navy, and white. All of which will look great in any child’s room!

This bunk bed is made from solid and durable rubberwood, which is sturdier than many offers commonly used wood. It features a full-length guard rail to keep children safe on the top bunk and sturdy 4-step ladder.  You can also easily and conveniently take the two bed apart and use them as single beds, as your children grow older.


  • Stylish, classic design
  • Full length guard rails
  • Made from solid rubberwood
  • Sturdy 4-step ladder
  • Can easily be separated into two twin beds
  • Available in 4 colors


  • Can be difficult to put together, especially if just one person

Closing Thoughts

There are some great bunk bed options available that really can help and save space in your child’s bedroom. Whether you opt for a modern design or classic design, model that gives you extra storage or even one that sleeps three children, if you are looking to save space, bunk beds can really help.  Just make sure that you are getting one that will be safe and practical for your children and will help create an environment that will allow their bedrooms to be a place where they can play, rest, and grow!

About Kelsey Kelsey is Chief editor at Sleeping Culture. She is a proud mother of two, passionate about sleep and finding ways to live a healthier and stress-free lifestyle.

About Zotto

Zotto was kickstarted in 2015 by two friends who had created a mattress designed specifically for those who suffer from back pain and overheating.

Pat and Shawn spent many years researching and designing their dynamic support system which they say is a one size fits all product.

At Zotto, they truly believe they have perfected sleep. As we get into the details of the Zotto you will see it isn’t just a memory foam mattress, it’s an innovative merging of sleep technology that delivers unmatched pressure point relief and temperature regulation.

Not to mention extreme comfort. Just as their friends and family fell in love with the first Zotto prototypes, Pat and Shawn are sure you will do the same.


Quick Points

  • Sleeps cool
  • Great motion transfer
  • Compatible with adjustable base
  • One firmness available
  • 30-night break in period
  • No financing


Materials and Structure

The Zotto is a 10-inch bed-in-a-box made with four unique layers of specially designed foam.

We’ll go through the layers one at a time but first, let us start with the cover. The cover of the Zotto is made up of a polyester and rayon blend. Their cover is a bit thicker than usual but it offers a nice cozy soft feel. It is also removable, which helps with maintenance and cleaning.

Thermaphase Comfort Layer – The top comfort layer is made of 2-inch gel-infused memory foam.

Zotto considers this their hybrid layer which not only contours nicely to the body but also regulates body temperature. This top layer has a slow response to pressure that allows for some nice sinkage and some immediate pressure relief.

The second aspect of this hybrid foam is the gel infusion that helps to draw heat out of the material and disperse it through the bed.

Support Layer – Following the comfort layer is 2 more inches of CoolFlow memory foam.

Much like the top layer, this memory foam also has a slow response to pressure and offers even more sinkage into the mattress. In addition to this, it also has an open-cell structure made with special cooling features, which help to ensure a cool night sleep.

Transition Layer – The next layer down is Zotto’s own Springtex foam, which is a polyfoam that has a quick response to pressure. With 4 inches of soft memory foam above, this layer provides some bounce, prevents sinking, and works as a transition between the top layers and the foam base.

Base Layer – The foundation is made with 4 inches of high-density polyfoam. As usual with most foam mattresses, this layer gives the bed most of its structure and shape.

The denseness of this final layer acts as the main foundation and support but also ensures an increased mattress life.

Motion Transfer

If you share your bed with a partner, it can be important to understand how much their movement might affect you.

As a full foam mattress, the Zotto does a decent job with motion isolation. The top 4 inches of slow response comfort foam absorbs the majority of movements.

Although, there may be some slight vibration felt under certain circumstances, we don’t believe it is enough to disturb a sleeping partner.

Cost and Value

When it comes to price, the Zotto mattress falls in line with most of its competitors.

To help encourage the prospected buyer Zotto also offers a 100-night risk-free trial.

If you are not completely satisfied with the Zotto simply call for a full refund and to schedule the free pick-up. Additionally, Zotto also sells every mattress with an accompanying 10-year warranty.

Unfortunately, Zotto is one of the only companies we have seen that doesn’t offer some type of financing.

That means if you want the Zotto you must go completely out of pocket for it. For more detailed information on the pricing and size options of the Nuvanna, check out our price points chart.

Price Points

Twin39 x 75 x 1061 lbs10 Years$650
Twin XL39 x 80 x 1064 lbs10 Years$700
Full54 x 75 x 1084 lbs10 Years$850
Queen60 x 80 x 1097 lbs10 Years$975
King76 x 80 x 10120 lbs10 Years$1,095
Cal King72 x 80 x 10121 lbs10 Years$1,095


Durability and Maintenance

The durability of a foam mattress is normally established by its foam density. When looking at the Zotto there is no reason for concern as their foams all fall in the expected range of density for a mattress of this quality and price.

Also, Zotto stands behind their product with a 10-year warranty, guaranteeing its workmanship and quality.

Maintenance of the Zotto is very minimal, no flipping or rotating required.

However, if you sleep alone or if you substantially outweigh your partner, it’s always a good idea to rotate your mattress every 3-6 months to promote even wear.

Zotto also warns that though using a mattress protector will help prolong the life of the mattress, it may also inhibit some features of the mattress.


Firmness and Sinkage

The Zotto is offered in one firmness which has been independently rated a medium-firm, coming in at 6 on a firmness scale from 1(softest) to 10(hardest). The top comfort layers offer 4 inches of sinking relief that contour and mold around the user’s body. Although there is some nice sinkage, the third and fourth layers do their job nicely and create nice buoyancy which prevents the user from feeling stuck in the mattress. The Zotto is best for those who would rather sleep “in” the mattress as opposed to “on” it.

Edge support can often be a problem with foam mattresses, however, the Zotto does a nice job at supporting the user even on the edge. If you share the bed with a sleeping partner knowing that you can use the whole surface area can be important.

The Zotto is great for back and side sleepers, while stomach sleepers may find some discomfort due to the mattresses softness.

We know it can be hard to imagine how a mattress might respond while bearing weight. To help, we have added a sinkage test chart to give an idea of how much sinkage can be expected for different weights.

Production and Certifications

Every Zotto mattress is proudly manufactured and produced completely in the United States.

The Zotto is also CertiPUR-US certified. When making foam, normal production tends to use chemicals that can be harmful to someone’s health. To help create a common standard for the foam market CertiPUR-US acts as an independent and accredited testing laboratory. With CertiPUR-US certification, you can be sure your foam product has been manufactured without ozone-depleting chemicals, without PBDE flame retardants(known to be toxic), without Mercury, lead or other heavy metals, without formaldehyde, without phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It also has low VOC (volatile organic compound) emission for indoor air quality.

Off-gassing is when a chemical odor remains after unpacking and can be common especially with memory foam mattress. Off-gassing can be a common concern with foam mattresses and as a complete foam mattress the Zotto does have the potential for some off-gassing, however, it should air out within a few days.


Sleeping Culture Rating: Overall Results

At Sleeping Culture we work hard to bring you honest and neutral information you can trust. We like to focus our attention on things which matter most to customers and users.

To clarify, our rating looks in-depth at materials, structure, motion transfer, value, comfort, off-gassing, breath-ability, and durability.

With our rating system, it’s possible to evaluate and compare each mattress on the market today. Above all, we hope our rating gives you confidence in choosing the right mattress for YOU.

Is Zotto Right For You?

Now that we have taken an in-depth look at some of the key aspects of the Zotto, let’s see if it might be the right mattress for you. To help with the process of deciding we will give a few highlighted recommendations.

Firstly, we can recommend the Zotto to anyone who is searching for that traditional memory foam feel.

The 4 inches of comfort foam is really felt, especially as it contours and molds to the user’s body. In addition to its contour, the Zotto also has some nice sinkage which also adds to that traditional feel.

Secondly, if you love the traditional memory foam feel but hate its notorious heat retention, the Zotto may be for you.

The gel and open cell foam used in the top comfort layers does a great job in absorbing body heat and dispersing it away while you sleep.

Lastly, we want to recommend the Zotto for anyone who prefers sleeping on their side. While the Zotto is also good for those who prefer their backs, it is best for those who usually sleep on the side.

The top 4 inches of comfort foam offers immediate pressure relief for the shoulder and hip area, which makes the Zotto ideal for all you side sleepers.


For More Check Out Zotto

If you have any further questions about the Zotto mattress we recommend heading over to their site here. Simply connect with a support associate by clicking the contact button in the bottom left-hand corner.

You could also give them a call at 1-877-719-6886 or just visit their contact page here.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Zotto, you can find it at your local Walmart, on Amazon, or on Zotto’s own website.
Zott has received an A+ rating from the BBB(Better Business Bureau) and offers hundreds of reviews here.

About Grant Sutts Grant Sutton was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. The love of travel and people has taken him all over the world. Currently, Grant is in L'viv, Ukraine where he has lived for 4 years and currently holds native English lessons, as well as free English Clubs. As a great influencer of his once said, "I write, I travel, I eat, and I'm hungry for more."

Featured image:

When you think about aging, what are the first things that pop into your mind? Health deterioration? Loneliness? Marginalization? Perhaps you should change the course of your thoughts a bit. Have you considered happiness? Growing older doesn’t have to be sad and stressful. On the contrary, when you reach a certain age, things become much clearer and you realize exactly what you want from life and how you want to live it. And once you do, you’ll know that you can actually choose to be happy, no matter your age. Here is some advice for seniors to lead more fulfilled and happier lives.

Find purpose

Throughout life, most of us find purpose in things like raising a family or building a career. However, once your children start leading their own lives and you retire from work, there’s nothing stopping you from finding purpose somewhere else. For example, even if you are retired, you can still work part-time, but this time you can have more freedom in choosing what you do. You can find a fun job, one that you’ll enjoy, without having to focus on how much you’ll earn. Your purpose can become spending as much time as possible with your grandkids or helping your children buy a new home. Finding purpose in smaller things is also an option, so start a blog with some wise guidance for the younger generations, or turn your garden into the most beautiful one in all of Sydney. The key is to feel useful and find something significant to invest your time and patience in.

Choose a lifestyle

Your lifestyle can make a huge difference when it comes to being happy. If you lead a life that you’re not comfortable with and that makes you feel depressed and out of place, by all means, change it. There are always better and more appealing options, especially for those living in big cities like Sydney. First of all, you get to choose where you live. Just because you spent most of your life in one neighborhood, doesn’t mean you can’t move closer to your children and grandchildren now. Also, if you feel like you need help with performing your everyday tasks, you can get premium in-home care that will improve the quality of life for you and your whole family. Caregivers like these allow you to keep living in your own home, while encouraging you to be more independent and lead a dignified and joyful life. Your lifestyle can and should be as active as you want it to be, filled with things and people who inspire you and make you feel good about yourself.

Pursue your passion

There’s always that one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but the timing was never right. Your children were more important, your job didn’t leave you enough time, or you couldn’t afford it back then. Why not do it now? If you’ve always wanted to dance, paint or travel, you shouldn’t wait a minute longer. Find a dance studio near you and see what programs they offer that would suit you, sign up for a painting course or go on a cruise. Maybe you once had a dream of writing a novel or taking amazing photos of your grandkids. Whatever your passion in life is, don’t postpone going after it. If it can make you happy, then let it make you happy right now.

Stay connected

Another thing that makes most people happy, from the early childhood to your golden years, are meaningful relationships. Anything good that happens in life becomes better and can bring more joy when you share it with those dear to you. So, above everything else, stay in touch with your family. Call your children whenever you have a need to talk to them, and the same applies to your grandchildren. Visit them when you can, or have a weekly family dinner at your place. Similarly, gather your friends or neighbors for a cup of coffee or a game of cards. If you want to expand your circle of friends, consider volunteering or joining a literary or gardening club. Plus, a great idea would be to combine social and physical activity. You can do this by taking regular walks with friends or by participating in exercise classes near you. Once you start looking into it, you’ll see that most Australian cities offer all sorts of activities for people of every age group, including yours.

If your life isn’t as pleasant as you’d want it to be, you should open your mind to the possibility of being happy. Once you start searching for happiness, you’ll find it all around you and make the best of every moment and every situation.

About Aubrey Meister Audrey is an English teacher and writer. She enjoys the Florida beach life with her husband and puppy.

Everyone has days when they simply can’t seem to stay awake. Whether you slept poorly the night before, got up earlier than usual, or simply haven’t had your daily dose of caffeine, some days you feel excessively tired until you finally make it to bed at night.

Excessive daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia is one of the most common symptoms reported by patients with sleep disorders. This condition affects roughly 20% of the population and, for many people, it is severe enough to affect daily activities and may even increase the risk for motor vehicle accidents and work-related injuries.

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of excessive daytime sleepiness including what it is, which sleep disorders are known to cause it, and how it can be diagnosed and treated.

What is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Technically speaking, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is not a disorder in itself but a symptom of several different sleep disorders.

This symptom is thought to affect as much as 20% of the population to such a degree that it interferes with work, school, and other daytime activities.

It is the most common symptom reported by patients who visit sleep clinics for the diagnosis of a sleep disorder, and it is most common in young adults, older adults, and shift workers.

The true prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is difficult to determine for a number of reasons.

For one thing, the nature of the symptom itself is subjective – a level of daytime sleepiness one patient might consider excessive may be mild or moderate to another patient.

There are also inconsistencies in terminology and a lack of consensus among medical professionals in regard to methods of assessment and diagnosis.

Though the terms used to describe this problem may vary, they all point to a common problem – a level of daytime sleepiness that interferes with daily activity.

What Are the Symptoms of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Symptoms of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

The primary symptom of hypersomnia is, of course, a chronic feeling of sleepiness that occurs despite being well-rested. People who experience EDS experience a constant and overwhelming feeling of tiredness throughout the day, on most days, even if they got an adequate or above-adequate amount of sleep the night before.

Other symptoms of EDS may include the following:

  • Difficulty waking in the morning
  • General lack of energy during the day
  • Dozing off at inappropriate times
  • Still feeling tired after a nap
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Lapses in attention
  • Changes in appetite
  • Poor performance at work or in school

It is important to differentiate between excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Fatigue is a level of extreme tiredness that results from mental or physical exertion or from illness. For example, if you normally work an 8-hour day but one day worked a double shift, you might feel fatigued afterward due to the increased level of physical and mental exertion. Excessive daytime sleepiness, on the other hand, can happen even when you are well-rested. You might struggle to stay awake during the day or still feel drowsy after taking regular naps.

Not only is excessive daytime sleepiness different from fatigue, but some would argue that it is more dangerous.

While fatigue can be relieved with rest, EDS can become chronic, and you may not always have the luxury of being able to take a nap – you may be forced to work through it which only makes things more dangerous.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, over 50% of single-vehicle crashes involving heavy trucks are related to fatigue, and over 17% involve the driver falling asleep at the wheel.

Daytime sleepiness has even been linked to lower academic performance and poor health.

Adolescents who suffer from EDS have increased school tardiness, lower levels of academic performance, and lower graduation rates than healthy students.

It can even impede job performance which may affect the patient’s ability to gain or maintain employment.

What Causes Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Excessive daytime sleepiness is not a condition in itself but a symptom of several common sleep disorders. The top three sleep disorders in which EDS is a common symptom are:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  2. Narcolepsy
  3. Restless Leg Syndrome

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these three sleep disorders.

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Hypersomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness is the most commonly reported symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common sleep disorder which affects over 20 million American adults.

This sleep disorder is characterized by periodic cessations in breathing during sleep and can last up to 20 seconds at a time and may occur hundreds of times per night.

OSA is caused by a blockage in the upper airway during sleep. This blockage may be the result of anatomical abnormalities such as enlarged tonsils, or it could be the result of the tongue or throat muscles collapsing into the airway.

If the cessation in breathing is long enough, it triggers the brain to wake itself up to resume breathing.

Depending how often it happens during the night, these events can cause a serious disturbance in the quality of the patient’s sleep which can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness.

  1. Narcolepsy

A sleep disorder affecting roughly 1 in 2,000 people, narcolepsy is technically a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control the sleep/wake cycle.

People who have regular sleep patterns typically enter REM sleep after 60 to 90 minutes, but people with narcolepsy enter REM sleep within 15 minutes of falling asleep and may also experience REM sleep involuntarily during the day.

Every person who has narcolepsy experiences EDS, though only 10% to 20% will experience other symptoms such as sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), sleep paralysis, hallucinations, insomnia, and automatic behaviors.

  1. Restless Leg Syndrome

Another neurological disorder, restless leg syndrome (RLS), is characterized by the uncontrollable urge to move the legs caused by an uncomfortable or painful sensation in the legs.

Symptoms of RLS typically develop in the afternoon and evening or during periods of rest, particularly when trying to fall asleep. Because this condition can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep, it may contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness.

While these three disorders are some of the most common causes of chronic hypersomnia, there are other potential contributing factors. Sleep deprivation, the use of certain medications, and various psychiatric conditions can all play a role.

Sleep deprivation is one of the most common causes of excessive daytime sleepiness, and it is not always caused by a sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. In many cases, sleep deprivation is intentional.

For example, you might stay up late to finish watching a movie or to prepare for a presentation at work the next day.

You may not realize it, but even mild sleep restriction can lead to negative symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness.

In fact, a study published in the journal Sleep showed that healthy adults restricted to six hours of sleep a night for 14 consecutive nights showed significant impairment of neurobiological functions.

Excessive daytime sleepiness is also a common complaint related to certain medications – particularly those that act on the central nervous system. Some of the drugs most likely to interfere with the sleep/wake cycle and contribute to daytime sleepiness include the following:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antispasmodics
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Opiate agonists

Hypersomnia has also been reported as a symptom secondary to medical conditions such as head trauma, inflammatory conditions, stroke, encephalitis, and neurodegenerative disease. Certain psychiatric conditions like depression can trigger excessive daytime sleepiness, and other sleep disorders like circadian rhythm disorder or periodic limb movement disorder may contribute as well.

How is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Diagnosed?

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Diagnosed

If you are concerned about the severity of your daytime sleepiness or its effect on your ability to complete daily tasks, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will perform a thorough clinical exam in addition to taking a medical history and a review of your symptoms.

In addition to these things, your doctor will also use a tool called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to determine the severity of your daytime sleepiness based on your responses to a series of short questions.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale will require you to answer questions about your likelihood of falling asleep during certain activities rated on a scale from 0 to 3.

A response of 0 is equated with zero chance of falling asleep while a response of 3 is the highest chance of falling asleep.

If your doctor still needs more information about your sleep habits, he may use additional assessments such as the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) and the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT).

These tests are often performed in conjunction with polysomnography or a sleep test. This test may also be used to diagnose a concurrent sleep disorder like OSA, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome.

Additional testing may be required to confirm a diagnosis for other conditions that may be contributing to your excessive daytime sleepiness such as neurological problems, psychiatric disorders, etc.

What Are the Treatment Options for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

When it comes to treatment options for excessive daytime sleepiness, it depends on the underlying cause for the problem. If the underlying cause of your EDS is a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome, treatment will be catered to treating the disorder.

Here is an overview of treatment options for these three conditions:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The most common treatment for OSA is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This consists of a mask that fits over your nose and delivers gently pressurized air to keep the airway open during sleep. Oral devices that hold the tongue in place or which pull the lower jaw forward may also help. In some cases in which CPAP therapy is inadequate, treatment with modafinil may be beneficial.
  • Narcolepsy – The most common treatment options for narcolepsy include modafinil, stimulants, antidepressants, sodium oxybate, and lifestyle changes. Modafinil is a central nervous system stimulant which has fewer side effects than other stimulants like amphetamines. Antidepressants may help control cataplexy in narcolepsy patients, and sodium oxybate may be beneficial as well, though it is much stronger.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – In cases where restless leg syndrome is secondary to another condition (like Parkinson’s disease, iron deficiency, diabetes, or kidney problems), treatment of that condition may improve symptoms like EDS. Other treatments may include sedatives to promote sleep, narcotics to relieve pain, anti-inflammatory drugs, and improved sleep habits.

If excessive daytime sleepiness is not related to another sleep disorder, treatment may not be as straightforward.

In some cases, lifestyle changes may be beneficial such as improving sleep hygiene, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and addressing any psychiatric disorders.

Sleep hygiene, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is a set of practices and habits necessary to have a good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.

Here are some simple tips for improving sleep hygiene to help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Try to stick to the same bedtime and wake times each day, so your body develops a regular sleep/wake cycle.
  • Exercise for at least 10 minutes per day but avoid strenuous exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Limit your daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes to improve alertness and focus.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine within a few hours of bedtime – some recommend that you stop drinking caffeine after 2pm.
  • Make sure you have adequate exposure to natural light during the day to support your internal circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid rich, heavy, and fatty foods as well as spicy foods, citrus, and carbonated beverages right before sleep because they can trigger indigestion or heartburn that interferes with sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark to improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Only use your bedroom for sleeping and sexual activity – if you perform other activities in bed (like watching TV), you may find it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

Unfortunately, the best treatment plan for excessive daytime sleepiness is not always obvious, even if your doctor is able to diagnose you with a specific sleep disorder.

When it comes to pharmaceutical treatments, some drugs have side effects which can make your sleep problems worse, or they may cause the opposite of the original problem, insomnia rather than sleepiness.

Work closely with your doctor and be as open and honest as you can about your symptoms to gain the best chance of finding an effective treatment for your excessive daytime sleepiness.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, clinical diagnosis, or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your personal physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


About Kate Barrington Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Kate also holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness topics including sleep hygiene, natural remedies, and sleep disorders. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of holistic health companies and writes product reviews about mattresses and other sleep solutions.

Also known as sleep terrors, night terrors are episodes of intense fear, screaming, and flailing while you are still asleep.

These terrors are also sometimes paired with sleepwalking and other parasomnias. Episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and the patient usually has little to no memory of the event in the morning.

Night terrors are most common in children, affecting roughly 40% of all children and a much smaller percentage of adults at least once during their lives.

Most children outgrow night terrors, but treatment may be required if they are causing a significant sleep disturbance or if they pose a safety risk to the child or others.

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of night terrors in depth, providing an overview of what they are, what symptoms they produce, and how they differ from nightmares.

We’ll also provide information about diagnosis and treatment options.

What Are Night Terrors?

Everyone has experienced at last one nightmare, a dream that invokes feelings of fear or terror. In some cases, you may wake with a full memory of the dream, or you may have nothing more than a vague feeling of unease that you can’t seem to shake. Night terrors take those feelings to the extreme.

A night terror is a sleep disturbance that is similar to a nightmare but is far more dramatic.

These episodes typically induce feelings of terror or panic in the dreamer, causing them to shout, scream, or thrash around in bed – it may also lead to episodes of sleepwalking or other behaviors in which the patient is acting out the dream.

Night terrors are sometimes caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though they can also result from extended periods of sleep deprivation, chronic stress, and various sleep disorders.

The primary difference between night terrors and nightmares is that the dreamer remains asleep during a night terror. Night terrors typically occur during non-REM (NREM) sleep, particularly during the early part of the night.

This is another factor that differentiates night terrors from nightmares, as nightmares typically occur closer to the end of the night.

What Are the Symptoms of Night Terrors?

Symptoms of Night Terrors

Sleep terrors can occur at any age, but they are more common in children than adults. Estimates vary greatly, but experts suggest that up to 15% of younger children experience recurrent night terrors.

These episodes are most frequently seen in children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old and they can be very distressing for parents.

A night terror can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, but the typical duration is between 5 minutes and 30 minutes.

During this time period, persons experiencing night terrors may be seen to bolt upright in bed with their eyes open, a look of sheer terror or panic plastered across their face.

Some people scream or cry and many exhibit additional symptoms like sweating, rapid breathing, and fast heart rate.

Night terrors typically occur during NREM sleep during the first one-third to one-half of the night, and they rarely occur during naps.

During a sleep terror episode, the patient may exhibit the following symptoms or behaviors:

  • Screaming or shouting
  • Sitting upright in bed looking frightened
  • Staring wide-eyed while still asleep
  • Sweating and breathing heavily
  • Rapid heart rate and flushed face
  • Kicking and thrashing
  • Dilated pupils and increased muscle tone
  • Being difficult to awaken
  • Awakening with confusion
  • Being inconsolable
  • Having little to no memory the next day
  • Getting out of bed, sleep walking or behaving aggressively

As is true for people who experience sleep walking and other insomnias, being woken during the episode can cause the patient to become very confused.

Some people become very agitated and may even act aggressively. In most cases, it is better not to wake the person and to simply make sure they are safely returned to bed instead.

Night terrors themselves are not inherently dangerous. In cases where the patient gets out of bed and moves around, however, there is a risk for injury.

For patients experiencing recurrent night terrors, it may be wise to take safety precautions such as locking exterior doors and windows.

If the night terrors occur at roughly the same time each night, it may also help to have a sleeping partner or parent wake the patient 15 to 30 minutes before the even typically occurs in hopes of preventing it.

What Causes Night Terrors?

Again, night terrors can occur at any age, but they are more common in children than adults. This condition has been identified most frequently in children who:

  • Are overtired or stressed
  • Started taking a new medication
  • Are physically ill, especially with fever
  • Fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis
  • Are sleeping in a new environment
  • Have been drinking too much caffeine

Editor’s Note

Night terrors typically affect children between the ages of 2 and 6, but they have been observed in babies as young as 18 months. This condition seems to be more common in boys than in girls, and there also appears to be a genetic link. About 80% of children who experience regular night terrors have a family member who also experienced them or who has another sleep disorder such as sleep walking.

Technically speaking, night terrors are a type of parasomnia – an undesirable behavior or experience that occurs involuntarily during sleep.

Night terrors are also classified as a disorder of arousal which simply means that they occur during the deepest stage of NREM sleep.

Sleep walking is another example of an NREM disorder, so it should come as no surprise that the two conditions often occur together.

There are a number of factors which are thought to contribute to sleep terrors. They include:

  • Fever
  • Chronic stress
  • Noise
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Light
  • Overfull bladder
  • Sleeping somewhere unfamiliar
  • Genetic factors
  • Migraine headaches
  • Emotional stress
  • Physical injury or stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Stroke
  • Premenstrual period
  • Encephalitis (brain swelling)

Sleep terrors have also been linked to various underlying conditions such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease.

The link between night terrors and sleepwalking may also indicate that the patient has difficulty maintaining slow-wave (NREM) sleep – this increases their susceptibility to parasomnias and quick arousals.

Damage or dysfunction to the thalamus in the brain may also be involved, but brain lesions are a very unlikely cause of night terrors.

Night terrors only affect about 2% of adults, and it is very rare in people over the age of 65.

In adults, sleep terrors are also commonly linked to mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Sleep terrors may affect adults differently than children as well. For example, they may occur at any time during the sleep cycle and adults are more likely to remember the dream upon waking.

How Are Night Terrors Diagnosed?

How Are Night Terrors Diagnosed

Generally speaking, night terrors do not require treatment. When they occur in children, the condition usually resolves as the child gets older.

If you suddenly start having sleep terrors as an adult, however, it may be cause for concern.

You should also talk to your doctor if the following things apply:

  • Your sleep terrors are becoming more frequent
  • The condition disrupts sleep for you or your family
  • Your sleep terrors put you at risk for injury
  • You experience excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Sleep terrors continue from childhood into the teen years

Though sleep terrors are an easily identifiable occurrence, they are not technically regarded as a diagnosable condition, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM-V).

Rather, it is classified as an NREM sleep arousal disorder, the diagnostic criteria for which are as follows:

  • Recurrent episodes of abrupt terror arousals, typically starting with a panicked scream
  • Intense fear and signs of autonomic arousal during the episode
  • Relative unresponsiveness to comforting attempts during the episode
  • Little to no recall of dream imagery upon waking
  • Significant distress or impairment in occupational, social, and other areas of function
  • Symptoms cannot be explained by another mental disorder or medical condition

The diagnosis of sleep terrors is usually made based on the patient’s history of symptoms and by excluding other possibilities.

Your doctor may also ask you to keep a sleep diary for a few weeks to track your symptoms and to gather information about your sleep habits.

In some cases, polysomnography may be required to gather clinical evidence about your bodily function during sleep and during sleep terror episodes – you may also need an EEG if your doctor suspects nocturnal seizures.

In addition to collecting information about your symptoms, your doctor will want to know about any complications you may be experiencing.

For example, frequent night terrors may result in a significant sleep disturbance which can contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness.

Daytime fatigue may impair your ability to concentrate or function properly at work, in school, or in social situations.

There is also a risk for injury to yourself or others during episodes and embarrassment about the condition can affect the patient’s romantic and social relationships.

What Are the Treatment Options for Night Terrors?

As it has already been mentioned, night terrors typically do not require treatment.

Particularly in children, they tend to resolve on their own over time.

When the condition becomes particularly disturbing or dangerous for the patient or other members of the family, however, treatment may be recommended.

Treatment usually focuses on improving safety and eliminating triggers.

Here are some of the treatment options for night terrors:

  • Treating underlying medical conditions such as mental health problems and concurrent sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
  • Improving stress levels by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, biofeedback therapy, or relaxation exercises.
  • Waking the patient about 15 to 30 minutes before the event is expected to occur – this is known as anticipatory awakening.
  • In rare cases, pharmaceutical medications such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants may help to reduce sleep terrors.

If you experience mild or infrequent night terrors, you may not need treatment, but there are still lifestyle changes and management strategies which could be beneficial. Here are a few different strategies you can try:

  • Develop and stick to a regular sleep schedule. Fatigue and sleep deprivation can trigger night terrors, so try to go to bed and get up at the same times each day.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Doing a quiet, calming activity before bed (such as reading a book or soaking in a hot bath) can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet to promote healthy and restful sleep.
  • Reduce daily stress levels with stress-relieving activities. Try meditation, yoga, or other relaxation exercises to reduce your chronic stress.
  • Make the environment safe. Prevent injury during sleep terrors and episodes of sleep walking by closing and locking all exterior doors and windows – you can also put alarms on them.
  • Comfort the person experiencing night terrors. Do not try to wake the person but you can offer comfort measures such as soothing words or gentle physical touch.

You may also want to keep a sleep diary to identify any patterns that may exist. If you find that the sleep terrors occur at the same time each night, you can use anticipatory awakenings to prevent them.

You may also find that the sleep terrors occur in conjunction with some kind of trigger that you can control to reduce them or prevent them entirely.

As is true for any sleep disorder, the biggest danger associated with night terrors is sleep disturbance.

If they occur frequently, it can cause a significant disruption of sleep which can contribute to daytime sleepiness.

This can affect your ability to function or focus which, in turn, affects your quality of life. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your night terrors.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, clinical diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your personal physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About Kate Barrington Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Kate also holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness topics including sleep hygiene, natural remedies, and sleep disorders. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of holistic health companies and writes product reviews about mattresses and other sleep solutions.

There are times when a dream feels so real that you wake up wondering whether you were truly asleep at all.

For some people, the line between wakefulness and sleep is less clear, and they actually walk or perform other activities while asleep.

This is formally known as somnambulism but is more commonly referred to as sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking is much more common in children than in adults but being sleep deprived can increase your risk for this behavior.

Many people who sleepwalk don’t remember the incident afterward, and people who witness the event often say that the sleepwalker is difficult to awaken.

Though there is a common misconception that a sleepwalker should not be woken, it can actually be very dangerous to let them continue the behavior.

In this article, we will address other common misconceptions about sleepwalking in addition to covering the subject in depth, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for this disorder.

What is Sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking is a behavior in which a person appears to wake up during the night and engages in activity without any memory of having done so.

Though the person may appear to be awake, they are still asleep and are unaware of their activity.

When the episode first begins, the sleeper may sit up in bed and look around in a confused manner – they may also get out of bed quickly and walk or run away.

In some cases, the sleeper may be frantic, trying to escape from some kind of threat they are dreaming.

Though movement is the primary characteristic of sleepwalking, some people may shout or talk during the episode as well. People who sleepwalk are often observed to have their eyes open with a confused or glassy look, and they may engage in routine daily activities such as making a sandwich or sweeping the floor.

In some cases, however, sleepwalking involves actions that are strange, out of place or downright crude.

For example, the sleeper might be seen rearranging furniture, urinating in inappropriate places, or even leaving the house. In rare cases, a sleepwalker may operate a vehicle.

Waking up a person who is sleepwalking may be difficult, and the sleeper may be confused or disoriented when they wake because they typically have no memory of the episode.

In some cases, the sleeper may even attack the person waking them – this is more common in men than in women.

Some people who sleepwalk wake on their own and find themselves in a strange place, or they may return to bed while they are still asleep and wake normally as if nothing happened.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleepwalking?

Symptoms of Sleepwalking

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleepwalking effects between 1% and 15% of the American population, though the prevalence in children may be much higher.

Sleepwalking typically occurs early in the night, usually between one and two hours after falling asleep.

The average length of a sleepwalking episode is several minutes, though they can last longer. People who sleepwalk typically find that they exhibit the behavior either very rarely or very often.

Some of the behaviors a person who is sleepwalking might exhibit include the following:

  • Sitting up in bed and looking around
  • Getting out of bed and walking around the house
  • Talking to themselves or responding to another speaker
  • Performing routine activities like eating or dressing
  • Attempting to leave the house or actually leaving
  • Driving a car or operating other equipment
  • Engaging in unusual or inappropriate behavior
  • Engaging in sexual activity without awareness of it

If a sleepwalker is woken during an episode, they may become violent during a brief period of confusion, or they may simply be confused.

After waking, the sleepwalker may or may not remember the details of the episode. Some people remember bits and pieces, though it is rare to remember the entire episode with any clarity.

When the sleepwalker returns to bed before waking, they may have no awareness of the episode but may experience daytime fatigue resulting from the sleep disturbance.

The prevalence of sleepwalking is much higher in children than in adults, particularly among children between the ages of three and seven.

It is more common in children with sleep apnea and in children who experience bedwetting.

Children who sleepwalk may be seen walking toward a light or into their parents’ bedroom – they may also walk to a window or door which can put them at risk of injury.

Older children tend to be more vocal and active during sleepwalking episodes and many children who sleepwalk also experience sleep terrors.

What Causes Sleepwalking?

How is Sleepwalking Diagnosed

There are many potential causes for sleepwalking and diagnosis is often difficult because the person may not be aware of the problem.

Roughly 4% of adults are affected by sleepwalking, though the prevalence is estimated to be as high as 17% in children.

There is thought to be a strong genetic link for sleepwalking – your chance of developing the behavior is two or three times higher if one or both of your parents had sleepwalking episodes as a child or in adulthood.

Technically speaking, sleepwalking is a type of parasomnia – an undesirable behavior that occurs during sleep.

It is also classified as a disorder of arousal which simply means that it occurs during N3 sleep, the deepest stage of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Sleep terrors are another NREM disorder, and it often occurs together with sleepwalking.

Some of the most common triggers for both sleepwalking and sleep terrors include stress, sleep deprivation, fever, and disruptions in normal sleep habits. It can also be related to excessive alcohol consumption or simply sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings.

In some cases, sleepwalking is secondary to some kind of underlying condition.

Some of the medical and psychiatric disorders that have been linked to sleepwalking include the following:

  • Fever encephalitis
  • Heartburn
  • Head injury or stroke
  • Asthma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Seizures
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Multiple personality disorder

Sleepwalking may also be triggered by the use of medications, including medications used to treat the disorders listed above.

Sedatives and sedative-hypnotics that promote relaxation or sleep may increase your risk for sleepwalking, as can the use of neuroleptics which are sometimes used to treat psychosis.

Even stimulants and antihistamines have been linked to episodes of sleepwalking.

A single episode of sleepwalking is generally no cause for concern, particularly when you suspect that it may be triggered by a brief period of sleep deprivation.

Also Read: Sleep Deprivation Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, & Remedies

When sleepwalking occurs with some regularity, however, it should be brought to your doctor’s attention.

Here are some signs that it may be time to talk to a doctor about your or your child’s sleepwalking behavior:

  • It occurs often, more than one to two times a week or multiple times per night
  • It leads to dangerous behavior or potential injury
  • It causes a significant disruption to the sleepwalker or the household
  • It results in daytime sleepiness sufficient to impede daily function
  • It begins for the first time in adulthood or continues into a child’s teen years

Because sleepwalking has been linked to a wide variety of other conditions, you’ll want to provide your doctor with as much information as you can, so he can make an accurate diagnosis.

Keep reading to learn more about how sleepwalking is diagnosed.

How is Sleepwalking Diagnosed?

How is sleepwalking Diagnosed

Before getting into the details of diagnosing and treating sleepwalking, we must answer the question of whether sleepwalking needs to be treated.

In children, sleepwalking is fairly normal and typically resolves on its own without treatment.

Parents should, however, be aware of the behavior and take the necessary steps to keep their child safe.

If the behavior continues into adolescence or adulthood, the risk of injury becomes much higher, and you should bring the problem to your doctor’s attention.

When you share your concerns about sleepwalking with your doctor, he may refer you to a board-certified sleep medicine physician who can assess your symptoms and determine the underlying cause of your sleepwalking.

You may be asked to keep a sleep diary for one to two weeks to track your symptoms, and you may be asked to rate your level of daytime sleepiness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

Your doctor will also perform a thorough physical exam, take a medical history, and ask about any other symptoms as well as any medications you may be taking.

Using various diagnostic tools, your doctor will attempt to identify the underlying cause of your sleepwalking such as another sleep disorder, a medical condition, a medication, a mental health disorder, or a substance abuse problem.

In some cases, you may be asked to complete a nighttime sleep study called a polysomnography to confirm a diagnosis.

You’ll be asked to spend the night in a sleep lab connected to sensors that will gather data about your brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing as well as your eye and muscle movements.

What Are the Treatment Options for Sleepwalking?

In cases of occasional sleepwalking, treatment generally isn’t necessary, and, in children, it usually goes away by the teen years. When there is a risk for personal injury or if the behavior is disruptive to the family, however, treatment may be required.

The most common treatments for sleepwalking include the following:

  • Treatment for any underlying condition(s)
  • Adjustments to medications
  • Pharmaceutical medications
  • Anticipatory awakening
  • Hypnosis or self-hypnosis
  • Therapy or counseling

If your sleepwalking is linked to an underlying condition, your doctor may recommend treatment for that condition which could resolve your symptoms.

In cases where your sleepwalking is triggered by a certain medication, changing the dosage or switching to another medication might help.

There are also cases in which starting pharmaceutical treatment may help – this is most commonly used in cases where the sleepwalker is at risk for injury or if the behavior disrupts the family.

Medications that are sometimes used to treat severe cases of sleepwalking include estazolam, clonazepam, and trazodone.

Outside of pharmaceutical treatments for sleepwalking, some patients benefit from anticipatory awakenings.

For example, if you tend to sleepwalk at a predictable stage of the sleep cycle, having someone wake you about 15 minutes beforehand and staying awake for a few minutes before returning to sleep may prevent a sleepwalking episode.

There is also some evidence to suggest that hypnosis or self-hypnosis to achieve a deep state of relaxation may help.

You can learn these techniques from a trained professional who may also be able to help you learn ways to reduce stress and improve sleep.

In addition to these treatments, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself or a loved one who sleepwalks – there are also techniques you can use to manage sleepwalking behavior. Here are some simple suggestions you might try:

  • Take steps to make the environment safe by locking doors and windows or placing alarms on exterior doors. Children who sleepwalk should not sleep in bunk beds.
  • Avoid waking a sleepwalker unless they are at risk for injury – simply lead them gently back to bed and make sure they fall back into a restful sleep.
  • Make an effort to stick to a regular sleep schedule – sleep deprivation and daytime fatigue can trigger episodes of sleepwalking.
  • Engage in quiet and relaxing activities before bed to promote a deeper state of relaxation – try reading a book, taking a bath, or meditating.
  • Take steps to reduce your stress levels – if you also suffer from anxiety, finding a way to naturally resolve some of your anxiety may help.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, particularly to excess, as alcohol consumption can disrupt the quality of your sleep and can trigger sleepwalking episodes.

Sleepwalking is not necessarily a cause for concern unless it comes on suddenly in adulthood or happens with some regularity.

If you are concerned about your own sleepwalking or someone in your household, take the time to gather information about the episodes so you can present your doctor with a complete picture to help him make a more accurate diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, clinical diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your personal physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About Kate Barrington Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Kate also holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness topics including sleep hygiene, natural remedies, and sleep disorders. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of holistic health companies and writes product reviews about mattresses and other sleep solutions.

Whether you’re sleeping in a strange position or have a stuffy nose, we all snore from time to time. Snoring is a common problem among people of all ages and genders, and it affects roughly 90 million Americans.

Of those 90 million, about 37 million experience snoring on a regular basis.

Though snoring may seem harmless, it can lead to problems such as poor sleep quality or disrupted sleep for your partner.

Poor sleep at night then translates to daytime sleepiness which can cause difficulty with concentration, poor memory, and an increased risk for accidents.

Even serious health problems like heart disease are casually linked to snoring.

There are numerous factors which contribute to snoring, but obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common. I

n this article, we’ll review the basics about snoring including what it is, the symptoms, and what causes it. We’ll also talk about diagnosis and treatment options.

What is Snoring?

Snoring is a harsh or hoarse sound that occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues inside the throat. As the air flows past these tissues, it causes them to vibrate which creates the sound you know as snoring.

Most people snore once in a while but, for some, it is a frequent occurrence. In some cases, chronic snoring may even be an indicator for a serious health problem.

Though chronic snoring can sometimes be a condition in and of itself, it is often correlated with another sleep disorder –sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by periodic pauses in breathing during sleep which can be followed by gasping or choking sounds.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder, caused by a collapsed or blocked airway – it can also happen when the tongue relaxes into the airway to form a partial or complete blockage.

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by abnormally low breathing and pauses in breathing while snoring is a vibration caused by obstructed airflow.

Though the two conditions are different, they are closely linked – many of the factors that increase your risk for snoring also increase your risk for sleep apnea such as obesity, age, and certain anatomical abnormalities.


What Are the Symptoms of Snoring?

Snoring can affect people of all ages, though it is more common in men than in women. Roughly 50% of people snore at some point in their lives, though having a family history of snoring may increase your risk.

The risk of snoring seems to increase with age with about 40% of men and 24% of women being habitual snorers for an extended period of time.

Interestingly, however, a man’s likelihood of snoring decreases after the age of 70.

In many cases, snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea – particularly obstructive sleep apnea.

If your snoring is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor to rule out an underlying sleep disorder:

  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Choking or gasping at night  
  • Sore throat on waking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Restless sleep at night
  • Chest pain at night
  • Snoring loud enough to disrupt a partner
  • Poor attention span or behavioral issues (in children)
  • Poor performance in school (in children)

Obstructive sleep apnea often presents with loud snoring punctuated by periods of silence when you stop breathing.

During each pause, your oxygen levels decline which triggers the brain to wake up and restart your breathing – this is when you experience gasping or choking as your body resumes breathing.

Again, factors such as obesity, narrow airway, and a family history of snoring or sleep apnea can increase your risk for both conditions.

What Are the Causes of Snoring?

Causes of Snoring

The ultimate cause of snoring is vibrating tissues in the throat which cause noisy breathing during sleep. The factors that contribute to this vibration, however, are many.

For some people, the underlying cause of snoring is simply a matter of anatomy. If you have a low, thick, soft palate, it can cause your airway to be narrower than is normal.

People who are overweight or obese may have extra tissues in the back of the throat that makes the airway narrow.

Other anatomical features such as large tonsils or adenoids and an elongated uvula can also cause a partial blockage.

The narrower or blocked your airway becomes, the more forceful the flow of air becomes which increases tissue vibration, causing your snoring to become even louder.

Here is an overview of some of the other causes or triggers for snoring:

  • Age – Snoring can affect people of all ages, but your risk increases with age because the airway becomes narrower as you get older. Muscle tone in the throat also decreases with age.
  • Obesity – Being overweight or obese is a common cause. Excess weight may contribute to excess tissue in the back of the throat and a wider neck which can put pressure on the airway.
  • Poor physical fitness – Low physical fitness may cause poor muscle tone in the throat which may make it easier for the soft palate and other tissues to relax into the airway.
  • Nasal/sinus issues – Having a stuffy nose or blocked airway can make inhalation more difficult, creating a sort of vacuum in the throat which may lead to snoring.
  • Medications – Taking certain medications like tranquilizers may increase muscle relaxation and cause more snoring – examples include Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam).
  • Smoking – Tobacco use may increase muscle relaxation and make snoring worse.
  • Sleep posture – Sleeping in certain positions may contribute to muscle relaxation in the neck which can create blockages in the airway. Lying flat on your back seems to be worst.

Not only are there many potential causes for snoring, but there are a number of factors which may increase your risk.

Some of the most common risk factors for snoring include the following:

  • Being male – Men are more likely both to snore and to have sleep apnea than women.
  • Obesity – Being overweight or obese increase your risk for both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea – particularly if your neck circumference is more than 16 inches for women or 17 for men.
  • Narrow airway – If your airway is narrow, it is more likely to become blocked as you breathe at night when the soft palate or tongue relaxes. Having large tonsils may contribute as well.
  • Alcohol consumption – Drinking alcohol causes your throat muscles to relax, increasing the risk of snoring during the night.
  • Nasal problems – If you have a cold with nasal congestion, your risk of snoring may be higher. Certain anatomical abnormalities such as deviated septum may cause chronic nasal congestion which could increase your risk for chronic snoring.
  • Family history – Having an immediate family member who snores and/or has obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk for both.

Occasional snoring may only be a minor nuisance. For the snorer, it can lead to poor sleep and daytime drowsiness and, for your partner, interrupted sleep with similar daytime consequences.

When snoring becomes a frequent and severe problem, however, it is best to see your doctor to determine and treat the underlying cause of the problem.

How is Snoring Diagnosed?

How is snoring Diagnosed

If you’re concerned about your snoring, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will review your symptoms as well as your medical and family history to determine the potential underlying cause for your snoring and to make treatment recommendations.

A physical exam will help rule out anatomical causes for snoring and imaging studies may help as well. 

In many cases, your doctor will want to perform a sleep study – particularly if your snoring is severe and happens frequently.

A polysomnogram is a type of sleep study in which you will be connected to sensors to monitor various metrics overnight which may include the following:

  • Brainwaves
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Breathing rate
  • Heart rate
  • Sleep stages
  • Eye and limb movements

You may also be asked to keep a sleep journal to track your sleep habits as well as your symptoms.

The data from all of these tests should help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis at which point he will be able to make recommendations for treatment.

In order to correctly treat the underlying cause of your snoring, your doctor needs to be able to identify that cause.

In some cases, your doctor may be able to determine why you snore based on how you snore. Here are some key indicators:

  • Open-mouth snoring – Most likely related to tissues in the throat.
  • Closed-mouth snoring – Typically a problem with the tongue.
  • Snoring while sleeping on the back – May be improved by lifestyle changes and better sleep habits – generally seen in cases of mild snoring.
  • Snoring in all sleep positions – Often seen in severe cases of snoring – may require more comprehensive treatment than other types.

Even if you don’t have a partner who is bothered by your snoring, it is still a good idea to treat the problem.

Left untreated, chronic snoring can lead to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, impaired performance at work or school, irritability and mood swings, high blood pressure, and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available.

What Are the Treatment Options for Snoring?

Treatment Options for Snoring

In many cases, people who snore are unaware of the fact that they do so. If you don’t know that you snore, you’re unlikely to seek treatment.

If you experience symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, or irritability it could be an indication of sleep disturbance and chronic snoring could very well be the cause.

When it comes to treating snoring, treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause.

Here is a summary of some of the most common treatments for snoring:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – Often used as a treatment for sleep apnea, CPAP involves wearing a mask over the nose and mouth during sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that creates gentle pressure through airflow to keep the airway open during sleep.
  • Oral appliances – Form-fitting dental mouthpieces can reduce snoring by altering the position of your jaw, tongue, and/or soft palate. Some devices pull the lower jaw forward to open the airway while others keep the tongue and soft palate from collapsing into the airway.
  • Surgical correction – In severe cases, surgery can be performed to open the airway by removing excess tissue from the throat or by moving the upper and lower jaws forward.
  • Positional therapy – Changing the position in which you sleep can reduce snoring, particularly if you tend to snore most when sleeping on your back. Try sleeping on your side instead.
  • Weight loss – Losing weight can reduce or eliminate your snoring, particularly if you are severely overweight or obese – it also reduces your risk for sleep apnea.
  • Quitting smoking – Smoking can increase your risk for snoring, so quitting may help resolve it.
  • Regular exercise – Exercising regularly can help you lose weight which, in turn, may reduce your snoring. Regular exercise is also beneficial because it helps tone your muscles, including the muscles in your throat, which may reduce snoring as well.

In addition to these treatments, there are certain exercises which may help strengthen the muscles in your airway to reduce the risk of snoring.

One exercise is to repeat each of the five vowel sounds outline for three minutes several times a day.

Another is to hold your mouth closed with pursed lips for 30 seconds or to place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth and repeatedly slide the tongue backward and forward for three minutes a day.

Even the act of singing out loud can build muscle and improve muscle control in the throat.

Out of all the treatment options, lifestyle changes are the most effective when it comes to long-term relief from snoring.

Making changes to your habits to lose weight and improve bad habits will not only reduce your snoring, but it will improve your health overall as well which decreases your risk for other sleep disorders and chronic diseases.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, clinical diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your personal physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About Kate Barrington Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Kate also holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness topics including sleep hygiene, natural remedies, and sleep disorders. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of holistic health companies and writes product reviews about mattresses and other sleep solutions.

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by periodic pauses in breathing during sleep and it affects more than 18 million American adults.

Though sleep apnea on its own may not be immediately life-threatening, it can increase your risk for other health problems including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

There are three types of sleep apnea, each differentiated by the causative factor. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent form, affecting roughly 4% of American women and 2% of American men.

Unfortunately, this condition often goes undiagnosed which further increases the risk for dangerous complications.

In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth view of obstructive apnea including what it is, its symptoms and causes, and how it can be diagnosed and treated.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the individual’s breathing to stop and start repeatedly during the course of a night’s sleep.

There are three different kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea (also known as complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by a partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep while central sleep apnea occurs when the brain temporarily fails to send signals to the muscles responsible for controlling respiration.

Mixed sleep apnea combines the symptoms of both.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep, allowing the tongue or fatty tissues in the throat to collapse into the airway, blocking airflow.

When this happens, the restriction of airflow also results in reduced blood flow to the brain which signals the brain to partially awaken from sleep to get the body breathing again.

Pauses in breathing are often followed by loud gasping, snorting, or choking sounds as the individual breaths deeply enough to clear the blockage.

The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is measured by the number and length of pauses in breathing that occur during sleep.

There are three levels of obstructive sleep apnea:

  1. Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The individual experiences 5 to 14 pauses in breathing per hour.
  2. Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The individual experiences 15 to 30 pauses in breathing per hour.
  3. Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The individual experiences 30 or more pauses in breathing per hour.

Pauses in breathing typically last for 10 to 20 seconds but can last as long as several minutes.

Though the individual may remain asleep through the night, these pauses in breathing affect the depth and quality of that sleep, leading to symptoms such as daytime fatigue and morning grogginess.

What Are the Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Aside from the pauses in breathing themselves, obstructive sleep apnea has a variety of other symptoms. Snoring is often the first indication of a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea.

Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include the following:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning grogginess
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression or irritability
  • Restless sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Decreased libido

Children can be affected by obstructive sleep apnea as well, though it is difficult to measure the prevalence with any accuracy.

The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in children is thought to be at least 2% or 3% up to 10% or 20% of children who snore frequently.

Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in children include the following:

  • Choking or drooling in sleep
  • Night sweats
  • Bedwetting
  • Restlessness in bed
  • Ribcage collapses during exhalation
  • Teeth grinding
  • Daytime sluggishness or sleepiness
  • Problems at school
  • Behavioral problems
  • Learning disorders
  • Unusual sleeping positions

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea may not be immediately life-threatening, but they can contribute to a number of serious complications.

The daytime fatigue and sleepiness that results from interrupted sleep may impact your ability to concentrate at work or school – you may even fall asleep at work, in school, while watching TV, or even while driving.

Children with OSA may develop problems with attention, behavior, and learning in school due to poor sleep.

Another dangerous complication related to sleep apnea is heart disease as well as other cardiovascular issues.

Interruptions in breathing during sleep restrict the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and other organs which causes an increase in blood pressure and puts excess strain on the cardiovascular system.

High blood pressure or hypertension can increase your risk of heart disease.

The greater the severity of your OSA, the greater your risk of serious cardiovascular complications such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

Sleep apnea has been linked to other conditions as well including type 2 diabetes, adult asthma, and acid reflux. Studies have not yet identified a direct link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, though they both share a primary risk factor – obesity – and 80% of diabetics or more also have OSA.

Again, studies have not yet forged a strong link between sleep apnea and adult asthma, but many people who suffer from asthma and sleep apnea improve with treatment.

Treating sleep apnea may also improve symptoms of acid reflux for people who suffer from both conditions.

effects Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing too much during sleep, causing temporary restriction of airflow.

The muscles implicated may include the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, and the tongue. When these muscles relax, it can cause a pause in breathing lasting anywhere from 10 seconds to several minutes.

The longer the pause, the lower the oxygen levels in your blood may drop, causing a buildup of carbon dioxide which triggers the brain to briefly wake the body from sleep to resume breathing.

Generally speaking, anyone can develop sleep apnea, but there are certain factors which may increase your risk. These include the following:

  • Obesity – Roughly two-thirds of people with OSA are overweight or obese. Fat deposits around the airway can lead to obstructions in breathing during sleep.
  • Anatomical Abnormalities – Anatomical conditions which may increase your risk for sleep apnea include large tonsils or adenoids, large tongue, narrow palate, men with a collar size 17 inches or more, and women with a collar size 16 inches or more.
  • High Blood Pressure – Hypertension or high blood pressure is very common in people with OSA.
  • Chronic Nasal Congestion – Regardless of the cause, people with chronic nasal congestion at night have twice the risk for OSA – it may be due to narrowed airways.
  • Diabetes – Having type 2 diabetes may increase your risk for sleep apnea and vice versa.
  • Smoking and Alcohol – Being a smoker and drinking alcohol at bedtime may increase your risk.
  • Sex – Men appear to develop OSA at twice the rate as women.
  • Asthma – Research has indicated a link between asthma and an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea, though the mechanisms of which are still under study.
  • Family History – Having family members with obstructive sleep apnea may increase your risk for developing the condition.

If you have one or more risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea, you may want to take a closer look at your sleeping habits.

Ask your partner if they have noticed any OSA symptoms such as pauses in breathing, snoring, and gasping or choking during sleep.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Because some of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea can easily be attributed to other things, many people who suffer from this condition remain undiagnosed.

In some cases, it is not the sufferer but someone close to them who is the first to identify the problem.

If your partner notices loud snoring, pauses in breathing, or gasping and choking during the night, you should talk to your doctor about obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring is a common problem that affects roughly 20% of the American population.

Being such a common problem, snoring is not often considered a serious problem but, in the case of obstructive sleep apnea, it can be.

If your partner notices that you snore loudly, you may want to talk to your doctor just to be safe – especially if it is punctuated by periods of silence throughout the night.

With this condition, snoring tends to be worst when the person is lying on their back, rather than their side.

When you visit your doctor to talk about obstructive sleep apnea, he will need information about your medical history, your symptoms, and your sleeping habits.

He may also need to talk to your partner or anyone who can provide more information about your symptoms during sleep.

In some cases, you may need to complete a sleep study either in a sleep lab or in your home.

During the sleep study, you’ll wear monitors to measure certain metrics including the following:

  • Airflow
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Breathing patterns
  • Eye movements
  • Electrical brain activity
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle activity

During the study, your doctor will be able to determine the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea based on the number of times your breathing becomes impaired per minute.

In addition to this test, your doctor will complete a physical exam to check your mouth, nose, and the back of your throat for extra tissue or anatomical abnormalities.

He may also measure your neck and waist circumferences to assess your risk level for OSA.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Treatment Options Are Available for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea can be divided into three categories: lifestyle changes, therapies, and surgical procedures. The treatment plan your doctor recommends will be determined by the severity of your OSA as well as your risk factors.

Lifestyle changes that may help with the treatment and management of obstructive sleep apnea include the following:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Quitting smoking
  • Using nasal decongestants
  • Changing sleeping positions

The two most common therapies used to treat obstructive sleep apnea are positive airway pressure and oral devices.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is typically administered through a facemask worn at night.

The facemask is connected to a device that delivers gentle airflow which creates enough pressure to keep the airway open at night.

Also Read: Best Sleep Masks

Oral devices can also be worn to keep the throat open by pulling the jaw forward or by holding the tongue in place during sleep.

In some cases, positional therapy such as sleeping on your side rather than your back can improve sleep apnea symptoms.

In severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, surgical treatment may be required.

Here is an overview of the different surgical procedures which may be considered:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – This procedure involves removing tissue from the back of the mouth and top of the throat, often with a laser or with radiofrequency energy. In some cases, the tonsils and adenoids may be removed as well.
  • Upper Airway Stimulation – For people who can’t tolerate CPAP therapy, a different device can be used to administer upper airway stimulation. This involves implanting a small impulse generator under the skin in the upper chest which detects breathing patterns and, when needed, stimulates the nerve that controls tongue movement to resolve airway blockages.
  • Jaw Surgery – A procedure called maxillomandibular advancement involves moving the upper and lower parts of the jaw forward from the other facial bones to enlarge the space behind your tongue and soft palate, reducing the risk of airway obstruction.
  • Tracheostomy – This procedure involves making a surgical opening in the neck and inserting a metal or plastic tube, allowing you to breathe directly through your neck to avoid blockages in the throat during sleep. This is usually only used in severe cases when other treatments fail.
  • Implants – Typically recommended for mild cases of OSA, this procedure involves implanting three tiny polyester rods in the soft palate to stiffen and support the tissue, reducing upper airway collapse during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common condition and it is also very treatable. Lifestyle changes are the treatment of choice for mild cases of OSA, but severe cases may require additional therapies.

If you’re concerned about the risk of sleep apnea, talk to your doctor sooner rather than later to see what changes you can make to treat the condition or to reduce your risk for developing it.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, clinical diagnosis, or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your personal physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About Kate Barrington Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Kate also holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness topics including sleep hygiene, natural remedies, and sleep disorders. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of holistic health companies and writes product reviews about mattresses and other sleep solutions.