When you think of a sleep disorder, you may think of things that keep you from sleeping. But there are actually many kinds of sleep disorders that involve problems both with sleeping and with staying awake.
Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it can affect up to 35 percent of all adults.
Insomnia can make it hard for you to fall asleep, or may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. People with insomnia often wake up feeling like they are not rested, which can make it hard to get through the day or be productive at work.
Episodes that last up to three months are considered short-term. Insomnia that occurs at least three times a week for at least three months is considered chronic or long-term insomnia.
People with hypersomnia may feel excessively tired during the day, even though they got a good night’s sleep. This may be caused by other medical conditions or disorders such as fibromyalgia or low thyroid. Mononucleosis and other viral diseases can also cause hypersomnia.
Narcolepsy is the most commonly known type of hypersomnia. A narcolepsy attack can cause you to fall asleep no matter what you may be doing, including driving or doing other dangerous activities.
Long sleepers are people who require much more sleep than the average person. Some long sleepers may feel tired during the day because they are not able to get as much sleep as their bodies naturally need.
Insufficient sleep syndrome is the name given to the sleep deprivation caused by choosing not to get enough sleep. This condition is considered to be voluntary because it is a choice not to go to bed, but it is also unintentional because most people with the condition are not aware that they are depriving themselves of needed sleep.
3) Breathing disorders
Snoring and groaning during sleep are two types of breathing disorders that can keep you from sleeping soundly. Both conditions can result in a loud sound as you inhale or exhale that can wake you or your sleep partner.
Loud or excessive snoring can also be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. This medical condition can cause you to stop breathing while sleeping due to an obstruction or blockage in the throat or airway.
People with sleep apnea may snore loudly or make choking sounds as they try to breathe. This may be caused by the tongue dropping into the back of the throat or by the throat collapsing during sleep.
When the airway is blocked, too little oxygen gets into the blood and the sleeper wakes up to breathe. This can happen a few times or hundreds of times each night, leading to very fragmented sleep.
4) Circadian rhythm disorders
Circadian rhythm disorders can throw the normal pattern of sleeping and waking out of alignment in several different ways.
Some people have a delayed pattern that makes them want to go to sleep at least two hours later than normal and wake later in the morning. Others want to sleep before a normal bedtime and wake up very early in the morning.
People with an irregular sleep pattern may nap at irregular intervals throughout the 24-hour day, without a set or recurring schedule of sleep.
Jet lag is a type of circadian rhythm disorder that happens when you cross multiple time zones, which forces your sleep and wake schedules to change.
This type of sleep disorder may cause you to have abnormal movements, activities or dreams. You may appear to others to be awake during these episodes, even though you are actually asleep.
Sleep hallucinations may make you believe you are experiencing something that is not actually real, while exploding head syndrome can make you hear a loud, imaginary sound like a bomb exploding or a loud bang as you are falling asleep or waking up.
Other parasomnias may cause you to walk, talk or even eat while you are asleep, or may cause nightmares or night terrors that leave an intense feeling of fear when you wake up.
6) Sleep movement disorders
Restless legs syndrome is the most commonly known sleep movement disorder. It can cause a burning or itching sensation in the legs that makes it hard to get comfortable or fall asleep. Other sleep movement disorders include leg cramps and repetitive limb movements that can wake you up or make it difficult to fall asleep.
If you have difficulty sleeping or often feel tired or sleepy during the day, talk to your health care provider about your sleep. Your doctor may recommend that you get an in-lab sleep study. This may help to determine what is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, and to develop a treatment plan to get your sleep back on track.
Reviewed March 25, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Sleep disorders – overview. Medline Plus. Web. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Insomnia Overview and Facts. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Web. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Hypersomnias. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Web. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Narcolepsy. Medline Plus. Web. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Sleep Related Breathing Disorders. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Web. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Parasomnias. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Web. Accessed March 24, 2016.