On Dec. 31, 2019, the Municipal Health Commission of Wuhan, China, reported a cluster of cases of severe pneumonia of unknown etiology. On Jan. 12, China publicly shared the genetic sequence of the virus that caused the novel pneumonia. On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced the official name for the disease: coronavirus disease 2019, commonly shortened to COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses officially named the virus causing COVID-19 as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (abbreviated SARS-CoV-2).
In 1934, French researcher Henri Roger coined the term parasomnie (in English, parasomnia; from the Greek para meaning “alongside” and Latin somnum meaning “sleep”) for phenomena that occur in the transition from sleep to wake or vice versa. A parasomnia can occur during the transition between nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and wake (i.e., NREM parasomnias such as sleepwalking, sleep terrors, confusional arousal, sleep-related eating disorder) or during the transition between rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and wake (i.e., REM parasomnias such as REM sleep behavior disorder [RBD], recurrent isolated sleep paralysis, nightmare disorder). A parasomnia has the following features: recurrent episodes of incomplete awakening from sleep, an inappropriate or lack of response to intervention or redirection during an episode, limited or no cognition of dream imagery and partial or complete amnesia for the event. In addition, the nocturnal disturbance is not explained by another sleep, psychiatric or medical disorder or medication/substance use. Some people experience REM parasomnias and NREM parasomnias, a condition called parasomnia overlap disorder (POD). A person with POD has a disorder of arousal (e.g., sleepwalking confusional arousal, sleep terror) and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD; which involves vivid, often unpleasant dreams; vocalization during sleep and sudden, often violent, arm and leg movements during REM sleep [i.e., dream-enacting behavior]).
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the intermittent obstruction of the upper airway during sleep. OSA can result from a nasal obstruction, oropharyngeal obstruction, hypopharyngeal obstruction or obstruction in a combination of these areas. The most common treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in which lightly pressurized air is blown into the airway by way of a mask that covers the nose or nose and mouth. The force of the air pressure pushes against upper airway tissues to maintain an open airway.
Scientists have noted that children with narcolepsy-cataplexy have an increased prevalence of overweight/obesity.1-3 More recent studies have linked narcolepsy-cataplexy with precocious puberty, and have indicated that the earlier the onset of narcolepsy-cataplexy in a child, the greater the risk of precocious puberty.3 Weight loss can occur after treating narcolepsy-cataplexy in children, but the extent that treating narcolepsy-cataplexy can reverse precocious puberty has not been examined in depth.4 Exactly how narcolepsy and precocious puberty are related is unclear but research studies have produced some interesting findings.
The advent of actigraphy in the 1990s made it possible to indirectly record a person’s sleep-wake cycles based on the person’s activity level, with increased activity indicating wakefulness and decreased activity indicating sleep.1,2 In actigraphy, a device — an actigraph — which is typically worn on the wrist, continually records movement data over a prolonged time — one week or more.3
An overlooked symptom in people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is olfactory dysfunction (i.e., impairment in the sense of smell) such as an inability to detect or distinguish between odors. A finding that the sense of smell improves soon after a person with OSA begins continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment corroborates a possible link between olfactory dysfunction and OSA.1,2
The prevalence of certain sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome is increased among children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the intermittent cessation of breathing during sleep, occurs when the upper airway tissues (e.g., tonsils, fatty tissue) repeatedly collapse into the upper airway and partially or fully block airflow. The collapsibility of the upper airway in people with OSA is believed to occur because the upper airway muscles relax excessively during sleep, which allows structures supported by the muscles to collapse into the upper airway.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) affects an estimated 7–10 percent of the general population. The prevalence of RLS is greater in patients with diabetes than in people without diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy (i.e., pathological changes in the peripheral nerves) has been implicated as a risk factor for RLS in diabetic patients. To what extent and how diabetic neuropathy contributes to RLS is unclear. Recent investigations into the relationship between RLS and diabetes have revealed some interesting findings.
The neurocognitive disorder Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 5 million Americans. Its prevalence is expected to triple by 2060. People affected by Alzheimer’s disease have increasing problems with memory, judgement and doing daily tasks of living as the disease progresses. Various studies have indicated that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and that people with OSA have increased levels of certain biomarkers (e.g., amyloid beta protein) associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have recently noted increased levels of biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease in young children with OSA.