Sleep Disorders: Everything You Need to Know

Sleep Disorders: Everything You Need to Know

Sleep, a basic need of every living being, faces a hindrance in the form of sleep disorders. Sleep disorders often cause several issues, from impaired daily functioning to health problems.

Getting rid of sleep disorders is not as easy as buying a mattress online. To cure sleep disorders and their side effects, you need to learn everything about them.

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep disorder, or somnipathy, is a medical illness that affects a person’s sleeping habits. Sleep Disorders interfere with the individual’s physical, social, emotional, and mental functioning. A study shows significant impairment in life quality in insomnia patients.

Sleep disorders are common in children and adults. However, children may show different signs than adults, such as inattentiveness, motor overactivity, oppositional behavior, or irritability.

All sleep disorders may have more or less similar causes, such as Stress, unhealthy lifestyle, health issues, mental illness, physiological and psychological effects, traumatic brain injuries ( TBI ), etc.

Below is the common sleep disorders list:

1. Insomnia

2. Sleep apnea

3. Restless leg syndrome

4. Hypersomnia

5. Circadian rhythm disorders

6. Parasomnia

7. Narcolepsy

Types of Sleep Disorders, symptoms, and causes

Understanding various sleep disorders, their particular symptoms, and their fundamental causes is essential to find appropriate treatment.

Let’s look in more detail at different sleep disorders and their symptoms and causes.



What is Insomnia?

An Insomniac person finds it difficult to fall or remain asleep for the minimum number of hours. Transient, acute, and chronic Insomnia are the three forms of Insomnia.

Transient Insomnia may last for less than a week, and it’s mostly a sleep deprivation for various reasons. Acute Insomnia may last for a few days or weeks, while chronic Insomnia is a severe stage of Insomnia and lasts for months with at least three sleepless nights a week.

What are the symptoms of Insomnia?

Symptoms of Insomnia may include one or more reasons mentioned below:

  • Not being able to fall asleep despite being tired
  • Difficulty staying asleep for long at night
  • Waking up several times at night
  • Daytime weariness and exhaustion
  • Depression, irritability, anxiety
  • Issues with focusing, memorizing, and paying attention
  • Frequent mistakes in daily chores

What are the causes behind Insomnia

Reasons behind Insomnia may include one or more reasons mentioned below:

  • An unhealthy lifestyle like lack of exercise, wrong eating timings, etc
  • Wrong sleeping habits like late night sleeping, napping during the day for hours, etc
  • Excessive blue screen usage such as mobile, laptop, etc
  • Bad eating habits such as eating heavy meals near bedtime, eating junk food or unhealthy food, excessive usage of caffeine or alcohol, etc
  • Working overtime, rotational shifts, constant meetings without appropriate breaks in between,
  • constant traveling within different time zones, jet lags,
  • Chronic health issues like cancer, or Neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
  • Anxiety, depression, or other mental or emotional issues
  • Side effects of medications for other health issues
  • Chronic back pains, arthritis, or Gastrointestinal disorders

Sleep apnea



What is Sleep apnea?

A person suffering from sleep apnea often goes through phases where their breathing stops for a short period or finds breathing difficult due to lack of oxygen.

Obstructive, central, and complicated sleep apnea are the three forms of apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person’s airways become completely or partially clogged due to soft tissue failure at the back of the throat. In Central sleep apnea, a person’s brain fails to send signals to breathing muscles due to the respiratory control system’s issue.< Complex sleep apnea is the result of a mix of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What are the symptoms of Sleep apnea?

A person with sleep apnea may find one or more symptoms mentioned below:

  • Breathing issues that are detectable by a third person, such as stopped breathing or loud snoring. A constant need to pee at night or night sweats Fatigue, tiredness, or tired feeling all-day Dry mouth, continuous feeling of thirst, and headaches Issues with concentration, memorizing, or focusing on the daily task Depression, Stress, anxiety, irritability

What are the causes behind Sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs more in men compared to women and can impact everyone despite gender or age factor.

There could be one or more reasons behind sleep apnea;

  • A person with certain physical aspects, such as obesity or a large neck Structural abnormalities such as low-hanging soft palate, nasal obstruction, or enlarged tonsils can reduce the upper airway’s diameter. Physical, psychological, neurological, or hormonal medical conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome, chronic lung diseases like asthma Age, genetic disorders, excessive usage of medicines, alcohol, or nicotine

Restless leg syndrome or RLS



What is Restless leg syndrome?

Restless leg syndrome, or Willis-Ekbom disease, is a sleeping disorder in which a person has a desperate urge to move their leg or arm. Sometimes people might get the same desire to move their legs or arms while sitting for long hours in one place.

Restless leg syndrome can occur in anyone contrary to age or gender. Also, in some cases, it could be genetic.

What are the symptoms of Restless leg syndrome?

A person with Restless leg syndrome may have any of below symptoms:

  • Legs or arm discomfort, such as itching, burning, pulling, throbbing, or gnawing. Intense urge to move limbs, legs, arms, or whole body
  • Struggle while sleeping or feeling like going out for a walk instead of sleeping
  • Daytime sleepiness or drowsy and lazy feeling
  • Performance issues at work, school, or other
  • Mood swings, anxiety, Stress, or depression

What are the causes behind the Restless leg syndrome?

There could be several causes behind restless leg syndrome:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Kidney problems like Uraemia, dialysis, or kidney failure
  • Hyperthyroidism, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes
  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or peripheral neuropathy
  • Pregnancy
  • Side effects of medicines
  • Caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine consumption



What is Hypersomnia?

People who suffer from Hypersomnia or excessive sleepiness feel like sleeping throughout the day despite sleeping for extensive periods at night.

Hypersomnia has two types based on the cause: primary and secondary.

The primary condition is not related to any health problem, and the secondary condition results from another medical problem.

What are the symptoms of Hypersomnia?

There are several symptoms of Hypersomnia:

  • Feeling exhausted all-day Lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • No appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Problems with remembering
  • Issues with focusing on daily tasks
  • Irritation
  • Inability to think properly or form coherent speech

What are the causes behind Hypersomnia?

 There are one or more causes behind Hypersomnia mentioned below:

  • Neurological problems,
  • Issues with brain functioning related to the sleep-wake schedule.
  • Other medical conditions
  • Other sleep disorders
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs
  • Head injury or low thyroid functioning

Circadian rhythm disorders



What are Circadian rhythm disorders?

The circadian rhythm is a natural cycle that governs our body’s sleep-wake timings daily and repeats itself every 24 hours. Thus, circadian rhythm disorders are a type of sleep disorder in which our normal sleep-wake cycle is disrupted, making it difficult to sleep and get up on time.

Circadian rhythm disorders have two sub-categories based on the causes behind them: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic-type diseases, in which the internal cycle changes, and includes sleep disorders such as Insomnia, Narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and restless legs. Extrinsic diseases develop when the internal circadian clock and the external environment are out of sync and include shift work disorder or jet lag.

What are the symptoms of Circadian rhythm disorders?

Symptoms of Circadian rhythm disorders are:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness,
  • Issues with waking up in the morning
  • Other sleep disorders like Insomnia, Narcolepsy
  • Disturbed sleep pattern
  • Anxiety, irritability, Stress, and depression
  • Performance problems at the workplace, school, or other social gatherings

What are the causes behind Circadian rhythm disorders?

There could be one or more reasons behind circadian rhythm disorder:

  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Age factor
  • Genetic factors
  • Lack of exposure to sunlight
  • Brain injury due to medical conditions like stroke, dementia, or other intellectual disabilities
  • Frequently changing work shifts,
  • Irregular sleep-wake time
  • Jet lag or constant traveling irrespective of time or time zones.




What is Parasomnia?

Parasomnia is a sleep condition in which a person exhibits abnormal behavior during any stage of sleep that he is likely to forget the next day. Parasomniacs may move, talk, or perform strange activities while sleeping, resulting in disturbed sleep or sleep deprivation.

Some parasomnia disorders include sleepwalking, sleep talking, nightmares, groaning, night terrors, bedwetting, teeth grinding, confusional arousal, and REM sleep behavior.

What are the symptoms of Parasomnia?

Parasomniacs may face one or more symptoms mentioned below:

  • Forgetfulness of activities done during sleep
  • Waking up with confusion
  • Not realizing the place after waking
  • Unfamiliar cuts or injuries on the body
  • Struggling to sleep all night
  • Daytime fatigue, sleepiness

What are the causes behind Parasomnia?

There could be one or more triggers that can cause Parasomnia:

  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD
  • Side effects of medicines
  • Other sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea Irregular sleep-wake time
  • Neurological issues like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s



What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a severe sleep condition that significantly impacts the sleep-wake cycle, causing daytime tiredness and unpredictable sleep episodes. Narcolepsy has three types: Narcolepsy with cataplexy (sudden loss of muscular tone), Narcolepsy without cataplexy, and secondary Narcolepsy.

What are the symptoms of Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy shows various symptoms, such as:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or random sleep episodes
  • Cataplexy or sudden loss of muscular tone
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Other sleep disorders like Insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome
  • Hallucinations, fragmented sleep,
  • Changes in rapid eye movement sleep ( REM sleep)

What are the causes behind Narcolepsy?

There could be many causes behind Narcolepsy.

  • Brain injury due to tumor, trauma, or other illnesses
  • Less hypocretin, a brain chemical
  • Hormonal changes
  • Genetic disorders
  • Infections
  • External toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, or passive smoking.

How to diagnose sleep disorders?

If you struggle to sleep on the best mattress regularly or find it hard to remain active at work despite sleeping all night, then a sleep disorder may be the reason.

To diagnose sleep disorders, you must find out whether you have any of the characteristics mentioned below:

  • Not being able to fall asleep for a long time
  • Frequent episodes of waking up at midnight and tossing and turning continually
  • Snoring, gasping, choking, or stopping breathing for a short while asleep
  • Feeling drowsy while doing important tasks like driving, working, or in a meeting.
  • Inability to concentrate or pay attention at work, school, or at home
  • Performance issues at school, work
  • headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Failure to recollect memories
  • Slower responses
  • Mood swings or inability to control emotions
  • An uncontrollable desire for napping during the day

You can self-analyze your sleep disorder symptoms or can take the help of a health expert. Health experts may ask you to perform several tests:

  • Polysomnography or PSG: This lab sleep study examines oxygen concentration, eye and body movements, and brain waves to see their effect on sleep.
  • Actigraphy: This test uses wearable monitoring devices to observe and evaluate your sleep patterns and average motor activity for days or weeks.
  • Titration Study: A CPAP Titration study is done by calibrating continuous positive airway pressure equipment to determine your ideal air pressure setting while sleeping.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Testing (MSLT): This sleep study aims to evaluate how rapidly a person falls asleep throughout the day when they should be awake.

Also, doctors may suggest you maintain a sleep diary and do a home study to learn more about your issues. The sleep study data include eye movements, brain wave changes, breathing rate, blood pressure, heartbeats, and other muscle activities.

How do sleep disorders affect health?

Sleep and health are co-related, and issues with one affect the other if left untreated. During sleep, the brain works on renewing cells, repairing muscles, healing wounds, regaining memories, increasing cognition, saving energy, and so on. Inadequate sleep impacts brain functioning and aggravates health problems by lowering recovery rates and other body functions.

Sleep deprivation raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, psychiatric disorder, and obesity. Poor sleep impairs a person’s social appearance by making them grumpy, frustrated, less attentive, and inactive.

Similarly, physical disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and mental ailments can create sleep problems. Respiratory problems, heart diseases, or failure of any vital organs result in sleepless nights. According to research, patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) suffer from sleep disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder, Insomnia, and Hypersomnia. Alzheimer’s patients have more sleep problems than Parkinson’s patients.

Individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may exhibit signs of sleep disorders such as excessive daytime drowsiness, difficulties falling asleep, nightmares, sleepwalking, atypical sleep conditions, and so on.

Can sleep disorders be genetic?

Due to personal, social, medical, or economic reasons, one-third of the population in the world suffers from sleep deprivation and disorders. Another reason that you might suffer from sleep disorders is your genes. Modern genetic breakthroughs have confirmed the significance of many genes in sleep disorders.

According to Monozygotic twins case studies and other references, four rare sleep disorders have an established genetic basis: fatal familial Insomnia, familial advanced sleep-phase syndrome, chronic primary Insomnia, and Narcolepsy with cataplexy.

How can sleep disorders be cured?

Treatment for sleep disorders varies depending on the severity of the condition, underlying causes, symptoms, medical and psychiatric history, age, and other factors.


Doctors may recommend one or more therapeutic options:

  • sleeping pills,
  • melatonin tablets,
  • cold or allergy treatments,
  • medications for chronic health concerns.
  • breathing equipment or surgery to restore breathing in sleep apnea,
  • and a dental guard to stop teeth grinding

Lifestyle optimization

Making changes in lifestyle along with medical treatment helps you get better results and improves sleep quality.

Maintain routine

Create a sleep-wake schedule and follow it thoroughly without breaks. Use alarms to set reminders to sleep and wake up on time. Keep the alarm clock away from your bed to make you get up in the morning to turn it off.

Limit nap time

Refrain from napping during the day to avoid staying awake all night, especially post-evening. However, if you need to take naps for certain reasons, ensure that you take at most 2 or 3 naps of 30 to 40 minutes maximum.

No Technology

Blue light from electronic devices keeps your brain active and fails to create melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Avoid using mobiles, laptops, or televisions at least 1 hour before sleeping.


Make darkness

Turn lights off before sleeping as dark induces the brain to release melatonin, a sleep hormone. If you can’t sleep in complete darkness, use a night lamp. Use thick curtains to block outside lights to create darkness in the bedroom.

Eat nutritional food

Dry fruits, dairy products, white rice, fatty fish, and other food items contain sleep-inducing nutrients. Add them to your regular diet for better results. For example, drinking warm milk before bed helps your nerves relax, keeps you full, and provides you with tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin and melatonin.

Avoid energy boosters and alcohol

Avoid food or drinks which contain caffeine or alcohol, which keeps you from sleeping. Eating spicy, fast, and fatty food before going to bed is a bad idea for several reasons. These foods are heavy and difficult to digest also. Too much spice and fats create acid reflux and keep you tossing and turning all night. Do not eat food rich with High glycemic index foods or added sugar to avoid sleep disorders or sleep-related issues.

Do exercise

Exercise is essential for a healthy life, fitness, and better sleep. Regular 30 to 60 minutes of exercise improves your blood circulation and burns calories. It exhausts your body, causing it to send messages to your brain to produce sleep-inducing hormones and sleep better to restore energy.

Meditation, Yoga, Running, Walking, Aerobics, or Crossfit, any exercise is helpful based on your preferences and health.

Create pre-bed routine

A pre-bedtime routine is equally helpful as a sleep-wake schedule. Our brain generally follows its own pattern based on several facts like daylight, physical exhaustion, or activities done by you. Following a pre-bed routine signals your brain to prepare your body for sleep. Activities like listening to music, reading books, meditation, or relaxing before bed help you fall asleep better than anything else.

Pay attention to the bedroom

Creating a sleep-worthy environment in your bedroom is vital for better results. Ensure you use your bedroom only for sleep and keep work, studies, or electronic devices out of it. Keep the temperature between 16 to 18 degrees with the help of a ceiling fan, air cons, or windows open. Turn off all lights, block sounds and create a relaxed atmosphere to help you sleep faster.

Prepare your bed

The most important object for sleeping is your bed. Use a bed that has a strong and sturdy frame and can support your weight without breaking down. You can use adjustable beds with different features like a massager, zero gravity mode, and other positions to help you sleep peacefully.

Use clean bed sheets or mattress protectors and select material which will keep your body cool and allergy free. Buy comforters that will keep you warm during winter and keep you cozy.

Use pillows that will provide enough support for your head, neck, and shoulders and do not create any pressure despite any sleeping position.

Another thing that you must pay attention to is Mattress. Whether you use a bed frame or sleep on the floor, the Mattress plays a crucial part.

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