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Sleep Disorders: Types, Symptoms, Treatments & more


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Writers at Sleep Authority are supported by a research team conducting in-depth research about the topics. The editorial team reviews them for accuracy and facts to ensure the most authentic and accurate content is published. Sleep Authority does not offer any medical advice, and you should not rely solely on our content for your course of treatment. Consult your medical professional to discuss any health concerns, chronic conditions, treatment options, or diagnoses.


December 13, 2022

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Did you know that about 70 million people in the US have chronic sleep disorders? Most people fail to notice these sleep issues. It can happen due to stress, busy schedules, and preferred lifestyles. If these sleep problems occur regularly, then you should get professional help. 

In this article, you will learn common sleep disorders, their types, how they can be treated, and the ideal amount of sleep you need to overcome these sleep issues. 

What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep and disorders caused due to it affect your health directly. Sleep disorder directly affects your mental health as it affects your ability to function properly. It can be termed a group of conditions that disrupt your ability to sleep regularly. They are known to affect the sleep quality and duration in a person. 

Did you know there are more than 100 specific sleep disorders? These all are categorized by symptoms, causes, physiological effects, etc. However, most sleep disorders are categorized by four signs: 

  • Issues falling asleep
  • Issues staying awake 
  • Not able to stick to regular sleep routine
  • Unusual behaviors during sleep

These signs clearly indicate that you have a sleep disorder. The best possible way to treat these would be to get professional help. On the other hand, doctors or experts will be able to help you better than anyone else. 

7 Types of Sleep Disorders

As we know, there are different types of sleep disorders, these can also be caused due to health issues and lifestyle choices. 



The inability to fall asleep is commonly known as insomnia. This is considered the most common sleep disorder and can be caused for a number of reasons such as stress, jet lag, hormonal issues, lifestyle changes, and poor diet. Insomnia in adults is different from insomnia in children and it all depends on your sleeping habits. 

So, how to check if you have insomnia? If you notice any of these symptoms three times in one week, then you, my friend, have infamous insomnia. 

  • Difficult to sleep at night 
  • Waking up during the night 
  • Sleeping late but waking up early 
  • The feeling of tiredness even after sleeping 
  • Irritable and anxious  mood 

That being said, Insomnia affects 50% of adult Americans at some point in their life. You should know that insomnia also has its types:

  • Chronic insomnia: When it happens regularly for a month or more 
  • Intermittent insomnia: When it happens periodically
  • Transient insomnia: When it lasts for a few nights 



Parasomnias are abnormal sleep behaviors that lead to poor sleep quality. These behaviors can happen before and during sleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders in children but some adults also experience them. If you find yourself doing any of these frequently, then you have parasomnias.  

Parasomnias have three categories, NREM parasomnias, REM parasomnias, and others. These also form REM sleep behavior disorders and they might develop early in your child. So you should keep a note of your child’s sleep behaviors.  


Restless Leg Syndrome

Did you know, Restless leg syndrome roughly affects 10% of Americans? Restless leg syndrome causes you to move your legs frequently. It might have a mild tingling effect on your legs causing you to move them. While these symptoms go unnoticed during the day, they definitely irritate you during the night, causing you to lose your precious sleep. 

RLS is associated with certain types of health conditions, like increased blood sugar, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease. If you notice an increased urge to move your legs or find it a bit difficult to rest them without moving then that’s your cue. For whatever reason you are having RLS, the best way would be to get help from the experts while you check yourself for a sleep disorders test immediately. 


Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that blocks your airways and reduces the amount of oxygen you take. This mostly occurs during the night and can be the reason for your snoring or disturbed sleep. Sleep apnea can be the result of excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. 

Now, there are two types of sleep apnea, namely:

  • Central Sleep Apnea: Central Sleep Apnea happens when the brain stops sending signals to the brain that controls the breathing muscles. These result in choking during sleep. The common risk factors for CSA include obesity and people with brain infection, stroke, and other medical conditions with the brain stem. 
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This happens due to a physical obstruction to the airways. A deviated septum can increase your risk of OSA. People with large tonsils or more mass in the nose and neck area are most likely to have it. 

People with sleep apnea can do some mouth exercises to reduce its effects and increase the sleep quality over time. These people can also make sure they are in proper shape. 

The symptoms of sleep apnea include: 

  • Snoring 
  • Feeling tired after waking up 
  • Dry mouth or sore throat after waking up 
  • The choking feeling during sleeping 
  • Troubled breathing 



Narcolepsy is one of the neurological sleep disorders that results in what you can call a ‘sleep attack’. During this, you suddenly feel sleepy in the daytime or feel excessive tiredness. These effects only last for a few minutes but narcolepsy can seriously disturb your sleep. It can also result in sleep paralysis that can happen right after you wake up. 

The symptoms of narcolepsy include: 

  • Loss of muscle strength 
  • Hallucination 
  • Muscle paralysis 
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness 

If you find yourself caught in any of these sleep disorders narcolepsy symptoms then you know what to do. 


Excessive Sleepiness

Excessive sleepiness or EDS happens when you strongly feel the need to sleep during the day at inappropriate times. People who feel EDS during the day are more likely to make mistakes or concentrate poorly. Now, the reason why you might have EDS could be because of diabetes, chronic pain, anxiety, pain, etc. Did you know, EDS affects roughly 18% of the population? 

The symptoms of excessive sleepiness are as follows: if you find yourself caught in these, then make sure you reach out to your doctor. 

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Difficulty in waking up 
  • Feeling sluggish during the day 
  • falling asleep at inappropriate times 


Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Shift work sleep disorder is defined as a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. This happens when the body and the circadian cycle are misaligned. Heavy working hours and a busy lifestyle can lead to poor sleeping hours. It could put off your normal sleep-wake cycle. 

Shift work disorder affects people differently, some people might get used to night shifts while others might not. Environmental factors can also aggravate this issue. 

Some of the shift work sleep disorder symptoms are too hard to avoid. If you find yourself suffering from these issues, then make sure you get the required help. 

  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Frequent mood swings 
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Reduced motivation 
  • Difficulty waking up 
  • Poor concentration 

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

Although the symptoms of sleep disorders are different for every disorder, before you get to the bottom of it, you should know about the common symptoms of sleep disorders. These sleep disorders might vary due to other health conditions, but here are some of the common symptoms: 

  • Difficulty in falling asleep or staying awake 
  • Fatigue during the day 
  • Loud snoring 
  • Strong urge to nap during the day 
  • Feeling tired after waking up 
  • Body fatigue or lethargy 
  • Unusual sleep behaviors 
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Increased anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Obesity 
  • Abnormal breathing patterns 
  • Falling asleep at odd timings 

What Causes Sleep Disorders?

To be honest, the reasons and causes for sleep deprivation disorders are many, it majorly depends on your body type, things you get affected by, your daily routine, and how well you follow sleep hygiene. Now, let’s dig into some of the other causes of sleep deprivation.


Respiration Issues

If you have any respiration-related issues such as the deviated septum, asthma, colds, and allergies, these issues can worsen when you lie down, hence disturbing your sleep.


Chronic Pain

If you are facing any kind of chronic pain or have met with an accident recently, this could temporarily disturb your sleep and could give you a sleep disorder. Some of this could be because of arthritis, back pains, irritable bowel movements, headaches, and migraines, etc. 


Frequent Urination

Frequent urination or nocturia can be the cause of disturbed sleep. This makes you visit the loo often during the night. If you develop hormonal imbalance then this could be aggravated easily. 


Stress and Anxiety

Stress can leave you up at night and disturb your sleep easily. Did you know, 78% of Americans are stressed once a week? That’s a large number! These people can easily develop stress-related sleep disorders. 


Lifestyle Changes

Adapting poor lifestyle habits can be the cause of increased sleep disorders. Following unhealthy eating, sleeping, and waking habits can be the major reason for your disturbed sleep. 

How Are Sleep Disorders Diagnosed?

According to your symptoms, your physician will run some tests, gather the related information, check your background history of sleep issues and monitor your sleeping habits. Some of these tests include:


Polysomnography (PSG)

Polysomnography is a sleep study evaluating your oxygen levels, body movements, and brain activity to determine the sleep cycles and how they are disturbed. These help to diagnose sleep apnea. 


Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Electroencephalogram test detects the electrical activity in the brain while it scans for any potential sleeping problems associated with it. This test is a part of polysomnography. 


Multiple Sleep Latency Tests (MSLT)

Multiple sleep latency test is a daytime napping study with a combination of PSG night study to diagnose narcolepsy.

How Are Sleep Disorders Treated?

Sleep disorders treatment varies depending on the type of disorders and health conditions. However, generally, the treatment includes a combination of medicines and lifestyle changes. 

If you are looking for some possible treatments for a sleep disorder, then it would include the following medicinal treatments: 

  • Sleeping pills 
  • Allergy or cold supplements 
  • Melatonin medicines 
  • Breathing exercises 
  • A dental guard 
  • Medications for health issues

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle adjustments can really soothe your sleep issues. In fact, the reason for sleep deprivation could be a poor lifestyle choice. You might want to consider: 

  • Taking a well-balanced diet 
  • Setting up a sleep routine 
  • Reducing stress and anxiety 
  • Exercising daily 
  • Limiting alcohol & tobacco
  • Eating light meals before sleep 
  • Reducing coffee before bed 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Staying hydrated during the day 

 When treating a sleep disorder, you need to take care of your lifestyle too. These above-mentioned suggestions would really work wonders for you, if you follow them religiously! By adjusting your lifestyle, you might be able to get rid of anxiety and sleep disorders. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Our sleep manages our circadian rhythm and is responsible for how we feel the next day we wake up. If you mess up with your sleep-wake cycle, you might develop sleep anxiety disorders very easily. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended hours of sleep, an adult needs is 7-8 hours. 

As we grow, our sleep requirements by age changes. This comparative guide will help you find out the required amount of sleep you desperately need. 

Age Hours of Sleep Needed
0 – 3 Months 14 – 17 Hours
4 – 11 months 12 – 15 Hours
1 – 2 Years 11 – 14 Hours
3 – 5 Years 10 – 13 Hours
6 – 13 Years 9 – 11 Hours
14 – 17 Years 8 – 10 Hours
18 – 64 Years 7 – 9 Hours
Above 64 7 – 8 Hours

Summing It Up

The reasons for different sleep disorders can be many, improper lifestyle habits, poor diet, and negligence for sleep can leave you up all night. Poor sleeping patterns can also be the reason you might end up taking sleep disorders medications for a while. If you notice any signs of sleep disorders, consulting your doctor will be the smart thing to do. 


This happens when your circadian rhythm is off. Another reason why you cannot sleep even when you feel tired could be because you slept during the day or are stressed. Indulging into your devices before sleep could also be a possible reason for not being able to sleep. You should focus on your sleep hygiene to increase the sleep quality.

You can start by calming yourself down and erase the racing thoughts. Try to make yourself comfortable and avoid using mobile phones before going to sleep. Still, if you find it difficult to sleep, you should read a book, try having a warm bath before bed or try aromatherapy. 

The common sleep aids would be taking melatonin supplements, pills and following a good sleep hygiene. Some other things that can help you sleep better would be trying some herbs for sleep like chamomile, lavender, ashwagandha, etc. Try sleeping on the right mattress, as an uncomfortable mattress could be the primary reason for you struggling with sleep. 

You can fall asleep fast by practicing any of these techniques. 4-7-8 breathing method, military method, counting, clearing your mind, meditating before sleep. These techniques will help you to fall asleep faster whenever you are struggling with it. 

The longest anyone has gone without sleep is 11 days or 264 hours to be precise. Although it’s unclear how anyone can bear the sleep deprivation symptoms, those usually kick in after 2-3 days of not sleeping. We wouldn’t encourage this by the way and would suggest you find ways that can help you sleep better. 

Not getting enough sleep can disturb your sleep cycle resulting in irritability, low concentration, mood swings, fatigue, obesity, increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and various health issues. Our sleep is majorly responsible for our overall health. Hence, you mustn’t miss out on quality sleep. 

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