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What are sleeping disorders?

Sleep. It is a period of rest that we need for our mental and physical recovery. Only when someone has trouble sleeping, it becomes clear that sleeping is not as obvious as often thought. Many people have problems sleeping. These problems can considerably vary in nature. Everyone once and again has troubles falling asleep or is sleepy during the day, tired, and – as a result - irritable. But when the complaints persist, the problem may be caused by a sleeping disorder. A physical problem may cause the sleeping disorder. But other factors can also cause a sleeping disorder.

The consequences of a sleeping disorder on how someone functions in his or her daily life, differ from person to person. Often, people are not aware of a possible link between the problems during the day and the quality of sleep one gets.

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'Sleeping well' is subjective

Sleeping well or not sleeping well; it is a subjective feeling. There is no such thing as a standard for ‘good, healthy sleep’, as sleeping requirements vary per person. Sometimes, sleeping complaints are related to expectations, perceptions and behavior. Whereas one person can be a happy sleeper, another can have the feeling he does not sleep well, even though they have similar sleeping patterns. Sleeping disorders have various ways of manifesting themselves.

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Diverse disorders

Some eighty different sleeping disorders are known at the moment. They can lead to various problems, both at night and during the day. A sleeping disorder can influence someone’s mood, work, or school performance. There is no such thing as ‘the sleep patient’. The consequences of a sleeping disorder on how that person functions differs from person to person.

Sleeping disorders are divided in six main categories. They are insomnia (sleeplessness), breathing-related sleeping disorders (such as apnea), hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day), circadian rhythm disorders (deregulation of the biological clock), parasomnia (deviating behavior during sleep) and sleep-related movement disorders.

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people with a sleeping disorder

Most people with insomnia can be treated by their family doctor or specialist in mental health care. People who suffer from sleeping disorders in conjunction a physical problem, can usually be treated in a general hospital. When the sleeping disorder is hard to treat or cannot be treated, you may be referred to a specialized sleep center.

This is also the case for serious sleeping problems in combination with another illness or disorder. Or in the case of an uncommon, rare sleeping disorder, or when the patient needs special attention, for example young children or people with an intellectual disability. In Kempenhaeghe, somnologists and somno-technologist will do their utmost to give children and adults with complex problems the best possible night’s sleep. As no two patients are the same, examination and treatment always strongly depend on the person and the problem.

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Research and cooperation: together we stand strong

Sleeping disorders are a relatively young subject within medicine. Even though scientific research is increasing, much more research is required. Specialized sleep centers take their role in researching sleeping disorders. Kempenhaeghe is a trailbreaker and initiates cooperation between academic centers, knowledge institutes and corporate life in the Netherlands and abroad. Thus, new perspectives are being developed that result in improved patient care and increased know-how of sleeping disorders.

The sleep medicine domain includes several organ specialisms. As complex sleeping disorders requires an integral approach, Kempenhaeghe is committed to the formal acknowledgement of somnology as a discipline-transcending specialism. On the road to realizing this goal, the Center for Sleep Medicine plays an important role in the international development of know-how through its involvement in the exams somnology and somno-technology of the European Sleep Research Society.

The Center for Sleep Medicine has been accredited by the Dutch federation of university medical centers for the diagnosis and treatment of rare sleeping disorders.

Kempenhaeghe invests in the quality of care, diagnosis, treatment and support as well as in the distribution of expertise on sleeping disorders through research and cooperation.