About Sleep Disorders
* These are very brief descriptions. For Comprehensive Information about sleep
go to EverythingSleep™
Insomnia is the inability to achieve a restful and sustained night’s sleep. Most
individuals, at some time in their lives will experience temporary problems with
insomnia. However, almost half of the population suffers from long term or chronic
insomnia, a disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/ or staying asleep.
Insomnia may be a symptom of another sleep disorder, but can be triggered by
psychological factors, lifestyle change or physical illness. Only a qualified sleep
professional can rule out other medical disorders enabling successful treatment of the
Everyone experiences some sleep deprivation sometimes, but ongoing sleep
deprivation can lead to serious problems including inability to perform your regular
activities, a host of medical complications and an increased risk of vehicle crash or
injury. There are many causes of sleep deprivation ranging from medical conditions,
medications, sleep disorders and lifestyle factors.
Snoring is very common among adults. If someone is snoring they may have a sleep
related breathing disorder.
During sleep airway muscles in the throat relax and, as you breathe, the airway
vibrates, making noise. Snoring may occur for many reasons, some unknown,
including: deformities or obstructions in the nasal air passage, nasal polyps, a deviated
septum or nasal congestion from a cold or allergies. Alcoholic beverages, sleeping pills
and antihistamine medication can contribute to snoring. Women may experience
snoring during the last month of pregnancy.
Snoring is no laughing matter. It is more than a social nuisance, it can be the first
indication of a far more serious disorder: Sleep Apnea (see below).
Narcolepsy (excessive/ sudden daytime sleepiness)
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that consists of sudden unexpected episodes of
daytime sleepiness which typically last about 15 minutes. A person may have several
episodes any time or place during the day.
This occurs in some individuals despite their getting 7-9 hours of quality nighttime
sleep. Some people with this disorder have been known to fall asleep in the middle of
a conversation, driving, or in a business meeting. Additional symptoms may include
paralysis and hallucinations when sleepy. There is not a cure for narcolepsy but most
people can lead normal lives if the condition is properly diagnosed and treated.
Sleep Apnea (stopping breathing during sleep)
Sleep Apnea is common and under-diagnosed. It causes repeated episodes of
breathing stopping temporarily during sleep, sometimes associated with loud snoring,
restless sleep and gasping for air. Sleep Apnea can increase your risk for high blood
pressure, heart attacks, heart failure, diabetes and possibly stroke.
People with Sleep Apnea are usually not aware of these events. Common symptoms
are excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, non-refreshing sleep, and loud snoring with
pauses in breathing while asleep. A concerned bed partner is often the one who brings
these symptoms to the attention of the patient or doctor.
Sleep Apnea can affect many areas of a person’s life, personally and professionally. It
even affects health and longevity. Many patients with Sleep Apnea are mis-diagnosed
with depression, chronic fatigue or insomnia.
Periodic Limb Movements
This is characterized by periodic episodes of repetitive limb movements that occur
during sleep. These can disrupt sleep and the sufferer may not be aware of them,
instead complaining of insomnia, restless sleep or daytime sleepiness. A bed partner is
usually more aware of their movements than the person.
Restless Leg Syndrome is characterized by a ‘crawling’ sensation in the legs prior to
sleep. These sensations cause the victim to move the affected body part for relief,
often keeping them awake at night. This can lead to severe insomnia and excessive
Obesity and Sleep
People with significant obesity are at risk for developing a condition which causes them
to not receive enough oxygen and not eliminate enough carbon dioxide while breathing
during sleep. This can cause sleep deprivation, extreme daytime sleepiness and lead
to life threatening medical complications.
Seniors and Sleep Problems
Sleep problems are common among older adults. Medical conditions, sleep disorders
and lifestyle factors can contribute to a reduction in sleep quality. They may have
problems falling asleep, remaining asleep or awakening too early. Lifestyle changes,
treating underlying medical conditions and medications can be helpful treatments for
these sleep difficulties in senior citizens.
Excessive Nighttime Urination
This is a condition that causes people to wake up numerous times during the night and
urinate. It is a common cause of insomnia. There are many causes of this condition.
Treating the underlying conditions that cause it, lifestyle changes and medications can
be helpful remedies.
Women and Sleep Problems
All women may experience problems sleeping from time to time, but hormonal
changes during specific times of life, such as premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy,
perimenopause and menopause may create an ongoing problem. Certain medical
conditions and lifestyle factors can contribute to sleep problems as well.
This disorder can cause people to sit up in bed, walk or perform tasks while they are
actually asleep. The person’s eyes may be open and they may appear to be awake.
Sleep walking occurs most frequently among children. It occurs for many reasons and
correcting the cause may help reduce episodes. A main concern is to ensure a
person’s safety during an episode. Most children outgrow sleep walking as they grow
Young children require afternoon naps and older adults occasionally fall asleep.
Recently, napping for active adults has become more popular. Many adults find
themselves over-extended with work and family life and feel sleep deprived. A short
nap can be a way to help feel revitalized and refreshed.
Many adults feel sleepy in the afternoon, about eight hours after awakening. A short
nap can improve alertness and work performance. Naps may help those driving long
distances or anticipate that they will be up longer than usual. For many, napping for
active adults may be a new concept, but research shows that it can be beneficial.
Nightmares or bad dreams are commonly experienced by children as a natural part of
growing up. They may occur in adults from time to time as well. People experiencing
stressful life events or sleep disorders or who use alcohol, illegal drugs or certain
medications are at risk for nightmares. Frequent distressing nightmares should be
brought to the attention of your doctor.
Sleeping Too Much (10+ hours)
This can be a serious sleep disorder. People with this condition sleep for long periods
during the night, may nap during the day and still feel excessively sleepy no matter
how much they sleep. The cause for this condition is unknown and it appears to be
lifelong. Symptoms are treated with medication and lifestyle changes to increase