Understanding Sleep Problems Symptoms and Treatment Options

sleep problems symptoms

Many researchers have conducted meta-analyses in an effort to discover associations between sleep problems and several different diseases and conditions. Most studies have concluded that, indeed, insomnia is associated with several types of cancers. The largest of these studies found that women who had insomnia were more likely to have breast or colorectal cancer. Meta-analyses have also concluded that patients who have severe anxiety disorders are at increased risk of insomnia, but that patients who are also physically active are less likely to have these anxiety disorders as well.

There are two types of meta-analyses examining the association between insomnia and cancer and several other diseases and conditions. In the first set of analyses, investigators look for evidence that sleep restriction causes an increase in the risk of an accident. In this set of studies, participants are asked to sleep for a specific amount of time each night. If an accident occurs during this time, the researchers ask if they would have been able to prevent the accident if they had slept the required amount. These studies have shown that approximately 13% of accidents occur during sleep. In the second set of investigations, researchers attempt to adjust the variables associated with sleep restriction, and they attempt to determine whether they can reduce the association between sleep restriction and an accident.

Sleep Problems Symptoms

A cat lying on top of a dirt field

One of the largest studies ever conducted looked at the effect of sleep restriction on patients who have heart disease. Of the studies conducted, there was a clear indication that patients who had sleep problems were at a greater risk for congestive heart failure. Of the meta-analyses examining the association between sleep problems and asthma, approximately half of the studies showed an increased risk of asthma and half showed a decreased risk of asthma.

A meta-analysis examining the association between sleep and an accident showed that approximately half of the participants in accidents had a sleep condition that could be worsened by medical treatment. The accident study was comprised of two sets of people; one group was comprised of workers who were employed in industries that required them to work on their knees or hands for long periods of time. The other group was comprised of people who did not work in industries that required such tasks. An interesting finding from this study was that those people who suffered an accident involving their hands and their knees reported lower levels of sleepiness and fewer symptoms after the accident than those people who did not report any injury.

A Much Ado

Meta-analyses are useful for providing a summary of the research on the relation of sleep problems symptoms and work injury. Unfortunately, many of these meta-analyses fail to take into account various important factors that could affect the association of sleep problems and work injury. For example, a number of studies that looked at the relationship between sleep problems and an accident showed pooled odds that were very small; these studies therefore may be biased by exclusion of patients who would be unlikely to experience symptoms associated with sleep deprivation. When looking at the association between sleep problems and an accident, therefore, it is important to conduct subgroup meta-analyses, in order to get reliable results.

Subgroup analysis allows researchers to adjust their results according to the characteristics of the patients studied. In addition, subgroups can be analyzed according to the severity of a disability, length of service, or occupational classification. Although most observational studies provide results for all patients who experience sleep problems and work injuries, some studies can only provide results for certain groups of patients. This limitation is especially relevant for studies that compare absolute versus estimates for specific groups.

Studies that compared absolute versus estimates for specific groups showed stronger positive effects. These results suggest that the effect of sleep problems on work performance is stronger for those patients with more severe disabilities. There was also a suggestion that heavier males were more likely to be affected by sleep problems than lighter ones. Finally, the results of a study comparing logistic regression with observational studies showed that there was a significant difference in the treatment effectiveness for mild to moderate sleepiness/clumsiness between treatments that involved structured home care and those that did not. This suggests that a combination of home and occupational therapy may be more effective than a single treatment option.

Bottom Line

While sleep studies have provided important answers about sleep issues, they have not been able to determine which conditions are related to the problem. This makes it impossible to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia. However, several other factors could be contributing to the sleepiness seen in the workplace or at home. Workplace workers have been found to spend long hours on computers, watch television, or use portable computer devices. On the other hand, sedentary lifestyles and poor diet choices have been linked to daytime sleepiness. A combination of these factors, including daytime sleepiness, has been shown to be a common problem among workers.

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