If you have a sleep disorder, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia and sleep related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea.
Insomnia is a condition characterized by an inability to sleep. In some cases, people with insomnia have trouble falling sleep at all. In others, they are unable to sleep long enough to get adequate rest. Chronic insomnia is insomnia which lasts more than one month, whether there is an outside cause or the insomnia itself is the primary disorder. Common causes of chronic insomnia are stress, drug use (including some prescription drugs), chronic pain and hormonal imbalances. One common effect of insomnia is the sensation of seeing things in slow motion. Some of the other common effects of insomnia are:
- Double vision
- Blurry vision
- Muscle fatigue
- Mental fatigue
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Digestive problems
There are a wide variety of treatment options available, depending on the cause of insomnia. Treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and relaxation techniques. Chronic insomnia is often accompanied by other mental disorders such as ADHD, clinical depression, PTSD, OCD, dementia, and bipolar disorder.
Sleep related breathing disorders, the most common of which is sleep apnea, are disorders which cause breathing problems while a person is sleeping. In the case of sleep apnea, a person can actually stop breathing for as long as a minute or two, hundreds of times per night. This results in broken sleep and all of the side effects associated with lack of sleep. More importantly, especially in the most severe cases, it can lead to hypoxemia, the lack of oxygen in the arterial blood. Some common work-related symptoms and effects of sleep related breathing disorders include:
- Lack of memory
- Negative effects on personality
- Daytime sleepiness
- Disturbance of cognitive abilities due to fatigue
Often, sleep related breathing disorders can be treated. The results are mixed, but the more effective treatment methods include surgery and the use of constant positive air pressure (CPAP) masks for sleeping. Surgery is designed to remove obstructing tissue in order to ensure that the airway remains clear and open. The use of CPAP is designed to keep the airway open by using a constant stream of positive air pressure blown into the airway (usually through the nose).
To qualify for benefits, you must show that your residual functioning capacity (in other words, your ability to work or engage in gainful activity) is diminished to such a point by your sleep disorder and any other disabling conditions which you have that you cannot reasonably be expected to work in any available job which your education, experience, and training qualify you for or for which you could be trained.
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®