You are here: Home > Learn More > Glossary of Terms
Glossary of Sleep Related Terminology

Apnea - Cessation of breathing, especially during sleep. Details

Bed-Wetting - see Nocturnal Enuresis

BIPAP - Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure. Used to treat sleep apnea, it is the same as CPAP, except the pressure of the airflow drops significently when you expire; there is no need to fight the incoming air pressure. The bipap can be set to drop the level at specific intervals, or upon demand.

Bruxism - The habit of unconsciously gritting or grinding the teeth esp. in situations of stress or during sleep.

Cataplexy - Sudden loss of muscle power with retention of clear consciousness following a strong emotional stimulus (as fright, anger, or shock)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrom - Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized primarily by profound fatigue. There is usually an abrupt onset of symptoms that come and go for at least six months. Details

Central Sleep Apnea - Cessation of breathing during sleep as a function of neuorological failure. The body "forgets" to breath, if you will.

CPAP - continuous positive airway pressure. A machine which is used to alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea by providing a continuous, stable pre-determined volume of air to a nasal mask that the patient wears while asleep. This continuous pressure keeps the airway from collapsing, as it does during Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome - Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is a fairly common disorder of sleep timing. People with DSPS tend to fall asleep at very late times, and also have difficulty waking up in time for normal work, school, or social needs. Details

ENT - Ear, Nose and Throat. Used to refer to a physician that specializes in disorders of that region. Technically, an Otorhinolaryngolygist (sp?).

Insomnia - Inability to sleep at all, or sleeping for only a few hours (and being unable to get back to sleep). Details

Lucid Dreaming - The ability to control the direction of your dream. Example: you are being chased by a wolf. You can conciously deceide to stop and face it, ask it questions, and so on.

Melatonin - a human hormone that is derived from serotonin, is secreted by the pineal gland especially in response to darkness, and has been linked to the regulation of circadian rhythms

Narcolepsy - Intrusion of REM sleep into wakefulness; onset of deepest sleep in a rapid, overwhelming fashion. The prevalence of norcolepsy has been calculated at about 0.03% of the general population. Details

Nocturnal Enuresis - Involuntary urination during sleep that occurs more often than once a month in girls over 5 and in boys over 6 years of age. Details

Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Cessation of breathing during sleep, due to a mechanical obstruction, such as a semi-collapsed trachea, tongue relaxed to back of the throat, or a large amount of tissue in the uvula area. Details

Periodic Limb Movement disorder - PLMS are characterized by leg movements or jerks which typically occur every 20 to 40 seconds during sleep. PLMS causes sleep to be disrupted. These movements are typically reported by the bed partner. These movements fragment sleep leaving the person with excessive daytime sleepiness. Related to Restless Leg Syndrome.

Polysomnograph - a mechanical recording of a person's sleep, using many criteria, such as the amount of oxygen in bloodstream, pulse, brain waves and eye movement, amongst others. Recorded on paper, not unlike a seismograph.

R.E.M. - Rapid Eye Movement. A state of sleep that recurs cyclically several times during a normal period of sleep and that is characterized by increased neuronal activity of the forebrain and midbrain, by depressed muscle tone, and esp. in humans by dreaming, rapid eye movements, and vascular congestion of the sex organs -- called also paradoxical sleep, rapid eye movement sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome - a discomfort in the legs which is relieved by moving or stimulating the legs. This feeling is difficult to describe and commonly referred to as a crawling, tingling or prickling sensation.

Seasonal Affective Disorder - A seasonal disruption of mood that occurs during the winter months and ceases with the advent of spring. Symptoms usually begin in September when days begin to shorten, and last through the winter into March when the days begin to lengthen again. Light plays a big part in its origin and in its treatment. In rarer instances, the seasonal disorder symptoms occur in the summer months and may be caused by an intolerance to heat. Details

Uvula - The pendent fleshy lobe in the middle of the posterior border of the soft palate It's purpose is to sense the amount to saliva in the mouth.