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sleep disorders: insomnia, sleep apnea , restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy

sleep disorders, insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy

Discover common sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy. Find out how each disorder is diagnosed as well as treatment options!


Insomnia is defined by trouble falling or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three months or longer. Its tell-tale signs are daytime fatigue, moodiness, and problems paying attention or remembering things. People can also suffer anxiety about sleep. Insomnia is caused by stress, depression, alcohol and/or caffeine use, substance abuse or an irregular sleep schedule.

A treatment for insomnia can be found with cognitive behavioural therapy, also known as CBT-I. Check this great link from a Québec-based  company  called HALEO: Online behavioural cognitive therapy application. 

The benefits of the therapy are often seen in four to six sessions. If you prefer another option, you can try a prescription medication, such as zolpidem (Ambien) eszopiclone (Lunesta), or trazodone. Make sure you consult your doctor first.


Sleep apnea is defined by breathing pauses of 10 or more seconds in bed. About one in four adults ages 30 to 70 have sleep apnea.

Its first signs are loud, frequent snoring, choking or gasping sounds, morning headaches and lack of full-night’s sleep. The main causes are being overweight, age, a narrow neck/throat, alcohol use, smoking and the use of narcotic pain medication.

To prevent sleep apnea, the best options are to lose weight, stop smoking and/or drinking, sleeping on your side, and raising your upper body with a wedge pillow when sleeping on your back.

For a more efficient treatment, try a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, which is used while sleeping, to deliver gentle air pressure via a mask to keep your airway open. Another alternative is an oral sleep device, such as Somnomed, Panthera or Prosomnus. These are comfortable solutions that alleviate snoring and the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

Micro2 Prosomnus device and Somnomed device

Panthera device

Dentistes Prisma is an AADSM-accredited clinic that provides all of the above-mentioned oral treatments for mild to moderate sleep apnea as well as for severe cases in which CPAP therapy does not work.


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that causes an uncomfortable sensation in the leg when sitting or lying down.
Its symptoms are itching as well as a crawling, burning or throbbing sensation that worsens at night, creating the urge to move your legs.

The main causes of RLS are low iron levels, diabetes and the use of certain medication (antidepressants, antihistamines). Sometimes the cause is unknown.

The first line of treatment is iron supplements, if needed, stretching and massage. In addition moderate exercise, reducing caffeine or alcohol and quitting smoking can work wonders. A more efficient treatment is an anticonvulsant (gabapentin) or dopaminergic agent (pramipexole). Note, however, that medication treats the symptoms—but not the underlying problem.


Narcolepsy is the loss of control of the brain’s sleep-wake cycles. Sudden sleep attacks can occur. The signs are extreme daytime sleepiness, hallucinations when falling asleep and sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy is caused by a deficiency in hypocretin (a neurotransmitter involved in sleep wake cycle). Sometimes, the cause is unknown.

To alleviate your symptoms, first try to schedule naps. Get some exercise. Ditch caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and heavy meals. Consult a behavioural sleep specialist. For a more efficient treatment, your physician might prescribe some antidepressants, stimulants or sodium oxybate (Xyrem) Note, however, that medication treats the symptoms—but not the underlying problem.

If you have any concerns about your sleep quality, we will be pleased to refer you to a sleep physician. For a consultation, please call us at 514-739-0097 or by email:

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Approved by Dr Lechner

Dr François Lechner

Dr. François Lechner founded the Prisma Dentistes in TMR more than 30 years ago. Over the course of his practice, he has developed his skills in general and family dentistry and is proud to offer a complete service to his patients. He is also interested in neuromuscular dentistry and the management of sleep disorders.

Dr. François Lechner