Dysautonomia (diss ah toe NO me uh) is a condition in which the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) malfunctions. The ANS is the part of the brain that regulates the essential bodily functions we don't think about, such as pulse, blood pressure, digestion, body temperature etc. Without functional regulation of these functions by the brain, the consequences can be disastrous for the entire body.
Dysautonomia can be a primary disease (a direct malfunction of a part of the brain) or it can be secondary to numerous other medical conditions (such as Parkinson's, POTS, MSA). There is no cure for dysautonomia; while some people have this condition and live mostly normal lives, other people may see their lives shattered by dysfunction of the ANS. It can be fatal, and it may or not be considered a rare disease, depending upon who you ask or how you define it.
Because the sleeping process also involves specific activity in the ANS, it's no surprise that people who have dysautonomia often also suffer from a wide variety of sleep disorders.
Here's a seminal work of sleep health research that highlights crucial ways in which sleep is influenced by the functionality of the ANS.
Guilleminault C, Briskin JG, Greenfield MS, Silvestri S -- In partnership with the Sleep Disorders Clinic, Division of Cardiology and Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Stanford University School of Medicine
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