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Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Insomnia Essay

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Updated: Sep 11th, 2021


It is worth noting that sleep disorders are a fairly common problem observed in different age groups. They may be caused by various reasons, and susceptibility to the development of such conditions often depends on the individual characteristics of the psyche (Barateau, Lopez, & Dauvilliers, 2016). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the aspects of such sleep disorders like narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome, and insomnia.

Literature Review


Narcolepsy is a condition caused by the weakening of neurotransmitter functions. This disease is characterized by the peculiar pathology that combines sleep and wakefulness disorders and the complexity of therapy (Barateau et al., 2016). The frequency of narcolepsy observed in the population varies, and it is impossible to determine the accurate prevalence of this condition since it has been studied in different countries to varying degrees. However, the disease can begin at the age of five to 50 years, but it is most common in people under 30 years of age. Narcolepsy can occur in both men and women equally often.

The main symptoms of this disease are excessive sleepiness, accompanied by periodic episodes of short sleep and cataplexy. A person may experience sudden short-term attacks of the weakness of skeletal muscles of varying severity (Barateau et al., 2016). More rarely, an individual may feel hypnagogic hallucinations or cataplexy of sleep and awakening (Barateau et al., 2016). Such signs as latency to sleep for less than 10 minutes, the onset of sleep from the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, and other symptoms of sleep disorganization are other crucial characteristics of this state. An important aspect of the pathogenesis is the autoimmune lesion of the orexin neurons of the hypothalamus, which leads to a decrease in the level of hypocretin-1.

At present, there is no therapy that can treat narcolepsy; however, a properly selected approach can alleviate the symptoms of this disease. In particular, the basis of therapy is the administration of drugs based on psychostimulants of the phenethylamine class, as well as the use of psychostimulants and their enantiomers and precursors (Barateau et al., 2016). Antidepressants with a stimulating effect and hypnotic drugs that stabilize night sleep may be prescribed as well. In addition, patients should follow the rules of sleep hygiene, stick to the recommended sleep schedule, and be physically active.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea Syndrome

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is characterized by recurring episodes of complete or partial obstruction of the upper respiratory tract that occur during sleep. This condition worsens the quality of sleep, which leads to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome, irritability, headache, and reduced cognitive abilities (Franklin & Lindberg, 2015). This disorder is accompanied by desaturation, which can later lead to hypoxia. Moreover, episodes of apnea and hypopnea often cause short-term awakening, which leads to the fragmentation of sleep, and patients may experience constant drowsiness.

This disorder is a common pathology and occurs mainly in adult patients. One of the main symptoms accompanying this condition is intense snoring, which ends abruptly and continues after a short cessation of breathing. The risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome is obesity (Franklin & Lindberg, 2015). In men, sleep apnea is most frequently observed in individuals suffering from obesity. In patients with normal weight, the cause of apnea may lie in local anatomical and structural abnormalities such as changes in the lower jaw or hypertrophy of the lymphoid tissue in the throat area. In women, obstructive sleep apnea is much more common during menopause.

Treatment of this disease depends on the severity of the pathology and physiological and anatomical features of the patient. Patients should significantly change their lifestyle and be physically active to reduce their body weight. They should also stop consuming alcohol, smoking, taking sleeping pills, and sleep in the correct posture (Franklin & Lindberg, 2015). As a surgical treatment, uvulopalatoplasty, radio wave reduction of the soft palate and tongue root can be performed. Apart from that, intraoral devices may be recommended to some patients. If snoring occurs due to improper posture during sleep, positional therapy may be used to eliminate sleeping on the back.


Insomnia is a disorder associated with the difficulties of initiating and maintaining sleep, and it is observed both in men and women of different ages and significantly less often in minors and teenagers. In this condition, the patient experiences a reduction in the duration of sleep and an increase in the first and a decrease in the third and fourth stages of sleep (Riemann et al., 2015). Treatment of insomnia should center on finding the cause of the disorder. This condition may be caused by stress, neurosis, neurological diseases, by the use of psychotropic drugs as well as by the negative environment in which the individual functions. Often enough, insomnia is associated with mental factors and should be treated as a psychosomatic disorder.

Therapy should be centered on eliminating the factors that provoke this condition and on the introduction of measures to normalize sleep. It is necessary to mitigate stress factors and organize an adequate mode of work and rest. If needed, endogenous mental, neurological, and somatic diseases should be managed (Riemann et al., 2015). Pharmacological agents such as barbiturates may be prescribed to patients, but in rare cases (Riemann et al., 2015). Benzodiazepines, cyclopyrrolones, imidazopyridines are more commonly used; nevertheless, preference should always be given to herbal treatment since it can be canceled quite easily.

Faith Integration

It is important that the therapies recommended for each of the three conditions require patients to maintain adequate work and rest regimes. Allocating some time to prayer and abstinence from work on the Sabbath day may become a good way of achieving a more balanced behavior. Through prayer, an individual may not only stay connected to God but also find solitude to calm down and let go of the thoughts that bother them. The Bible (New Revised Standard Version) accentuates the importance of prayer in various ways. After Jesus fed five thousand people, He needed some time alone to pray. The Bible says, “After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:46). In addition, the Bible stresses that “the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exod. 20:10). This scripture should remind individuals that having a day of rest is important, and it should be used to recuperate and seek connection with God.

Moreover, the Bible reveals that “the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it” (Exod. 20:11). Spirituality and prayer may become the triggers that would encourage the person suffering from a sleep disorder to let go of the stressful situation and slow down to connect with God. If an individual does not find value in prayer, they may choose a practice (such as meditation) that would reflect their worldview better.


Thus, it can be concluded that sleep disorders are not limited to conditions when a person experiences a lack of sleep. Such conditions are a fairly common problem, and they require special diagnosing and treatment. Management of sleep disorders should be comprehensive and combine workout regime, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and drug treatment if necessary. Therapy should be selected individually, in dependence on the characteristics of the condition of each patient.


Barateau, L., Lopez, R., & Dauvilliers, Y. (2016). Treatment options for narcolepsy. CNS Drugs, 30(5), 369-379.

Franklin, K. A., & Lindberg, E. (2015). Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in the population—A review on the epidemiology of sleep apnea. The Journal of Thoracic Disease, 7(8), 1311-1322.

Riemann, D., Nissen, C., Palagini, L., Otte, A., Perlis, M. L., & Spiegelhalder, K. (2015). The neurobiology, investigation, and treatment of chronic insomnia. The Lancet Neurology, 14(5), 547-558.

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