Are you suffering from a sleep disorder?

Are you suffering from one of these common sleep disorders?.

Sleep deprivation is a common problem that can arise due to a number of reasons including work demands and young children. If you are struggling with chronic sleep problems, however, you could be dealing with a sleep disorder. Good sleep is critical for your best mental and physical health, and problems sleeping can present a variety of problems. This article reviews five of the most common sleep disorders.


Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, and is basically a problem getting enough sleep. It is often a symptom of another problem, such as a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety, a physical condition, or could be a result of lifestyle choices which include consuming too much coffee or alcohol. 

Symptoms to look out for include difficulty falling asleep, waking throughout the night, experiencing a very light sleep, and feeling tired and sleepy throughout the day. You may find yourself turning to sleep medication, which can often just mask the underlying problem.

If you are experiencing insomnia, try to understand if it is connected to a larger problem. There are also tips available to help you get better sleep.

Sleep apnea

Another common sleep disorder, sleep apnea is characterized by a temporary cessation of breathing often due to a blockage of the upper airways. As a result, people with sleep apnea often wake up quite a bit throughout the night, and report feeling tired and not well rested throughout their days, though they do not always recall waking up.

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder and can be life threatening. It can be hard to spot yourself because the majority of its symptoms are evident when sleeping, excluding fatigue. Symptoms include loud and chronic snoring, gaps in breathing while asleep, and waking up with shortness of breath, a dry mouth or chest pains.


If you or someone you know may be experiencing sleep apnea, it is best to get treatment immediately. Lifestyle changes including weight loss and sleeping on one's side can help if symptoms are mild. Otherwise, sleep apnea is often treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which delivers a stream of air while one sleeps.


Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. Someone with narcolepsy may fall asleep mid-sentence, and experience similar "sleep attacks" through the day. It is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanisms controlling sleep and waking.

In addition to falling asleep throughout the day without control, symptoms of narcolepsy also include having intense dreams, having hallucination type experiences upon falling asleep or waking up, or feeling unable to move upon wakening or just before falling asleep. Someone with narcolepsy can fall right into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, skipping the earlier stages of non-REM sleep.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS)

Restless legs syndrome is exactly as it sounds: the sense of discomfort and restlessness in the legs, and sometimes arms, that can only be relieved by moving. Symptoms include tingly or uncomfortable feelings in the legs, such as cramping, that are triggered by rest. There are medications on the market to help with RLS, and sometimes symptoms can be lessened with reduced caffeine, alcohol, and increased physical exercise.

Nightmares and sleep terrors

Most commonly impacting children, nightmares and sleep terrors can be extremely scary. Nightmares are vivid and scary dreams which occur during REM sleep and are usually remembered. Sleep terrors happen during non-REM sleep, and are characterized by abrupt arousal from sleep. The child, or sometimes adult, will frequently scream out loud and will not remember what has taken place.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of any of these sleep disorders, it is best to consult your physician to get an appropriate diagnosis, referral or assistance to help you feel better and get the quality sleep that you need.


National Sleep Foundation

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