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Common Sleep Disorders - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Sleep disorders are difficulties, including trouble falling asleep, unusual sleep patterns, excess sleep, or abnormal behavior during sleep. Read to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At December 15, 2023
Reviewed AtDecember 15, 2023


Sleep disorder is something in which constant sleep is disturbed frequently for a long duration of time, and not getting enough quality sleep can affect the overall quality of life. It is an abnormal behavior defined as disturbing, distressing, and maladaptive, often resulting in distorted thoughts. Sleep disorder is a problem with sleeping, including trouble falling asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, too much sleep, or abnormal behavior during sleep. It also includes the two main behaviors, which are dyssomnia and parasomnia; dyssomnia involves problems connected with the amount, timing, and quality of sleep, while parasomnia is abnormal disturbances that occur during sleep.

What Is Meant by Sleep Disorder?

Sleep disorders are conditions that impair sleep or prevent one from having a peaceful sleep which in turn can cause daytime sleepiness and other symptoms. A hundred million people of all ages are not getting adequate sleep and are suffering from unwanted consequences on school, college, work performance, and personal relationships. Everyone can experience sleep disorders if:

  • A person regularly experiences difficulty sleeping.

  • A person is often tired during the day even though they slept for at least seven hours the night before.

  • A person has a reduced ability to perform regular daytime activities.

What Are the Types of Sleep Disorders?

The most typical categories of sleep problems are:

  • Insomnia - Insomnia is a sleep disorder where people have difficulty falling asleep and have some symptoms like:

  • Difficulty in falling asleep.

  • Having problems falling back to sleep and frequently getting up during the night.

  • Waking up early in the morning.

  • Having disturbed sleep.

  • It can result in certain mishaps like muscle fatigue, sleepless nights, unable to focus, accidents, and mood swings with a short temperament.

  • Sleep Apnea - Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. Two types of sleep apnea are most common these days, and they are:

  • In common language, obstructive sleep apnea, called snoring, is when the back side of the throat collapses during sleep and may include symptoms like daytime sleepiness, fatigue, restlessness during sleep, and trouble concentrating.

  • Since it concerns how the central nervous system works, a brief cessation of breathing characterizes central sleep apnea. At the same time, if a person is asleep, the brain, which regulates breathing cycles, fails to signal the body to breathe. As a result, people with this disorder mostly report recurrent awakenings during the night.

  • Restless Leg Syndrome: A sleep disorder that causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move the legs, which is generally seen during resting, such as lying down in bed and sitting for prolonged periods while driving or at the theater. It typically occurs in the evening, and people want to walk around and shake their legs to help relieve the uncomfortable sensation.

  • Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is one of the common neurological disorders in which people experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. Some patients suddenly fall asleep during any activity, which sometimes becomes risky and is common at 15 to 25 years old.

What Are the Causes of Sleep Disorders?

The common possible causes of sleep disorders include:

  • Physical factors such as ulcers.

  • Medical factors like asthma.

  • Psychiatric conditions include anxiety and sadness.

  • Environment, such as alcohol.

  • Working the night shift.

  • Some medicines interfere with sleep.

  • The aging disorder generally occurs after 65 years of age.

How to Diagnose Sleep Disorder?

  • If someone thinks they might have a sleep disorder, they should talk to their doctor about the symptoms.

  • The doctor can also do a physical check and help discover any sleeping issues. Some illnesses can cause disturbed sleep.

  • If the healthcare provider suspects any sleep disturbance, they will take a complete history and schedule of going to bed and whether the patient can fall asleep.

  • Polysomnography, a sleep study or comprehensive examination, is used to find sleep problems. The heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen levels, eye and leg movements, and brain waves are all monitored during a polysomnography test.

  • The doctor can identify insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep problems with the aid of actigraphy. In addition, the doctor may take a blood sample to check for thyroid illness, low iron levels, or other disorders that may cause sleep issues.

How to Treat Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders can be treated with certain measures by a healthcare provider, as they will recommend treatments based on the unique situation:

  • Some sleep specialists recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, such as counseling, which helps a person to recognize, challenge and change stress-induced thoughts that can make a person awake at night.

  • Minimize light.

  • Medications and supplements.

  • Follow a proper sleep schedule, which should be at least eight hours daily.

  • Minimize noise.

  • Get regular exercise.

Some medicines can also help with sleep disorders:

  • Sleeping medicines may be helpful in some cases of insomnia, including Melatonin, Zolpidem, Zaleplon, Eszopiclone, Ramelteon, or Doxepin.

  • Restless leg syndrome is treated with Gabapentin, and sedatives can also be given.

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep?

  • Create a calm and optimal sleep environment.

  • Think positive.

  • Avoid using the bed for anything other than sleep.

  • Try to meditate and clean the bed before going to bed.

  • Fix a proper time of going to bed and do not disturb the sleeping hours.

  • Avoid intake of alcohol and tobacco.

  • Do regular exercise.


The consequences of sleep apnea may worsen if untreated. Sleep is crucial for the body to recuperate, and it may be disrupted often to elevate stress levels, leading to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Stroke and type 2 diabetes have also been connected to sleep apnea. As mentioned above, the maximum population of today’s generation suffers from sleeping disorders. This is just because of the increasing risk of chronic disorders and unhealthy lifestyles, and people are running behind jobs to earn more money but losing their comfort and good health. Hence it is essential to follow a proper and healthy lifestyle and follow the few tips mentioned above to get a good sleep and avoid any chronic conditions.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)


sleep disorder
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