Sleep Medicine

Sleep medicine is a medical subspecialty devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disturbances and disorders. Dr Mistry can offer assessment and treatment for a range of sleep disorders, and this includes offering 1 to 1 cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-i).

Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep Medicine

There are over 70 different sleep disorders.

You will be asked about your bedtime routine, current sleep pattern, the nature and duration of any sleep disturbances as well as details about interventions you might have tried already. There will also be general questions about your physical health, mental health, medications and lifestyle.

You may feel unrefreshed when you wake up in the morning. For some people this may persist during the day and you may experience sleepiness, yawning, difficulties with concentration, attention, focus and short-term memory. Some people can become irritable, notice a deterioration in their mood, a spike in their anxiety levels, or might need to take daytime naps. It is not uncommon for people to use caffeine to help “power through” their day.

This depends on the type of sleep disorder, and its severity. There are over 70 different sleep disorders so answering this question in a single sentence, or even a paragraph is tricky!

Insomnia. Estimates about the prevalence of insomnia vary, although some estimates indicate that around 15% of the UK population are affected. This equates to over 10 million people. Insomnia often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

A sleep condition where a person struggles with falling asleep, staying asleep and they have an inability to have consolidated sleep despite having adequate sleep opportunity.

In the short term, people suffering from insomnia can experience fatigue, daytime sleepiness, poor attention, concentration and memory. Some people may experience irritability, especially in the mornings after a bad night.

Over the long term, untreated insomnia can affect an individual’s mental health. For example, chronic insomnia can increase the risk of developing anxiety or depression. Insomnia can also impact on a person’s ability to recover from any existing mental health conditions.

Obstructive sleep apnoea. The British Lung Foundation estimate that 1.5 million people in the UK have obstructive sleep apnoea, and that up to 85% of these people are undiagnosed and untreated. Other organisations, such as the Sleep Apnoea Trust estimate that the total figure could be as high as 10 million people.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition where the airway in the throat closes or partially closes (obstructs) as a person falls asleep and their airway relaxes. This causes repeated interruptions in breathing, which cause oxygen levels in the blood to fall. This causes the brain to partially wake the person up and breathing re-starts, often with a gasp.

Snoring which is loud enough to disturb others, stopping breathing whilst sleeping, waking up with a dry mouth and a morning headache. Other signs include excessive daytime sleepiness which can cause people to fall asleep while working or when they are watching television. Some people may develop depression, as well and struggle with concentration and memory. Not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnoea.

Obstructive sleep apnoea should be taken seriously, because it is linked to a number physical health conditions, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (increased risk of heart attacks and stroke), type 2 diabetes and reduced life expectancy. Obstructive sleep apnoea also has an impact on bed partners, who may opt to sleep in a separate room due to loud snoring.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, due to uncomfortable sensations. It tends to occur during the evening and at night. In some cases, the urge to move can extend to other parts of the body, such as the arms.
Estimates suggest that between 2-10% of adults are affected by restless legs syndrome. The condition tends to be more common in women.
People with restless legs syndrome can experience a disturbance in their sleep, and have higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to the general population.
A condition characterised by an inability to move or speak whilst awake and conscious. People describe feeling paralysed, which can cause distress. Episodes of sleep paralysis typically last between 30 seconds and 5 minutes.
Estimates vary but some studies suggest that up to 8% of the population have experienced at least one episode of sleep paralysis at some point in their lives. Sleep paralysis tends to occur more frequently in people experiencing anxiety.
Nightmares are unpleasant and vivid dream experiences involving disturbing themes, such as a threat to ones’ safety or survival, or the safety of those around them. People often wake up from nightmares in a state of distress and can develop a fear of going to sleep, because of concerns that they will have a nightmare.
Estimates vary but some studies suggest that 2-8% of adults experience nightmare disorder. This condition tends to be more common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder, stress, anxiety, and emotionally unstable personality disorder, although nightmares can occur in people who are not suffering from a mental health condition.
This is a condition characterised by unpleasant dreams, which can sometimes be of a violent nature accompanied by movements such as jerks of an arm / leg, or even punching / kicking during sleep. This can result in injury to the affected person, and potentially their bed partner.
Estimates vary, but studies suggest that up to 1% of the general population, and up to 2% of older adults are affected by this condition. REM sleep behaviour disorder is more common in men.
Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism is when a person walks, or carries out complex activities while they are not fully awake. In some cases, this can result in someone walking out of their bedroom, or even leaving their house. Sleepwalking is associated with a risk of injury.
Sleepwalking is more common in children, although adults are also affected. Sleepwalking occurs more frequently during times of stress and sleep deprivation. It can also be triggered by certain medications.
Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors (or pavor nocturnus) causes people to suddenly sit up in bed, or have episodes of screaming, shouting or crying inconsolably whilst asleep. People often feel frightened, and may be sweating, breathing rapidly or have a racing heart rate. Children usually have no recollection of night terrors when they wake up in the morning.
Night terrors are more common in children, but up to 2.2% of adults are also affected. Night terrors can be caused by stress, sleep deprivation, fever, travel and changes in sleep schedules. Night terrors can also be triggered by other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea or restless legs syndrome.
This causes a person to wake from deep sleep (also known as slow wave sleep, or N3 sleep) in a state of confusion and disorientation. There may sit up in bed and appear frightened. Sometimes the person might talk in their sleep, although they will have little or no recollection of this in the morning.
Confusional arousals are common in children, and affect roughly 4% of the adult population. This condition is more common in shift workers and people with other sleep disorders such as insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorder or restless legs syndrome. Sleep deprivation or being suddenly woken up from deep sleep can also cause confusional arousals.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. It is a condition where the timing of a person’s sleep is delayed by 2-3 hours from a conventional sleep pattern. This causes someone to go to bed later, and wake up later. People with delayed sleep phase syndrome often find that their levels of alertness, performance and productivity tends to be better in the late afternoon and evening. People with this condition may describe themselves as “night owls”.
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is more common in adolescents and young adults affecting 7-16% of this population. It affects 3.1% of middle-aged adults.