Exploring Common Sleep Disorders

Exploring Common Sleep Disorders

In general, the term sleep disorders refers to numerous conditions affecting the quality, quantity, and timing of sleep at night, which can then have a negative effect on both mental and physical health. There are more than 80 sleep disorders, yet the most common are insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.

But, how to determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder? Namely, it’s quite normal for everyone to experience sleep issues from time to time. But, the following symptoms might point to a sleep disorder:

  • Trouble sleeping on a regular basis
  • Feeling tired throughout the day although you had at least seven hours of sleep
  • Experiencing difficulties with performing daytime activities

Major Sleep Disorders Categories

Over the years, there have been many changes introduced to the categories of sleep disorders based on the symptoms, the pathophysiology (how it affects the person), and the body system affected. That said, the newest revision includes the following categories of sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia – trouble falling and staying asleep
  • Sleep-related breathing disorders – breathing changes during sleep
  • Central disorders of hypersomnolence – difficulty staying alert during daytime
  • Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders – trouble falling asleep and waking up as a result of internal clock changes
  • Parasomnias – performing physical actions or verbal expressions while asleep
  • Sleep-related movement disorders – inability to fall asleep or stay asleep due to involuntary physical movements

Most Common Sleep Disorders

As we already mentioned above, there are over 80 types of sleep disorders. The most common ones include:

  • Chronic insomnia – difficulty falling and staying asleep at least three nights a week, for at least three months
  • Obstructive sleep apnea – breathing interruptions during the night which disturb sleep and cause excessive snoring
  • Restless legs syndrome –feeling the urge to move your legs which interferes with the ability to fall and/or stay asleep
  • Narcolepsy – being unable to control sleep timing and quantity
  • Shift work sleep disorder – difficulty falling and staying asleep, as well as experiencing sleepiness at unwanted times because of the work schedule
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome – falling asleep later than the desired bedtime, at least two hours later, and having trouble waking up on time
  • REM sleep behavior disorder – acting out dreams while in the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage

Sleep Disorders Symptoms

Based on the specific type, symptoms of sleep disorders can vary. Yet, for the most common sleep disorders, symptoms might include:

  • Experiencing regular trouble falling asleep for at least half an hour
  • Difficulty staying asleep or not being able to fall back asleep after waking up
  • Excessive snoring and even gasping or choking
  • Having the urge to move your limbs when at rest
  • Not being able to move after waking up for a short period of time

Yet, that’s not all! The above-listed symptoms all refer to nighttime. Here are also some common symptoms that you might experience during the daytime, if you have a sleep disorder:

  • Extreme daytime sleepiness with frequent naps
  • Mood changes such as irritability or difficulty managing emotions
  • Cognitive changes like trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Experiencing school or work issues as a result of poor performance
  • Frequent accidents falls, and mistakes

Final Thoughts

Even though there are certain risk factors, pretty much anyone can suffer from a sleep disorder. Indeed, over 50 million Americans have a sleep disorder. With that in mind, if you feel like you aren’t getting enough quality sleep and symptoms start to interfere with your regular daytime activities, ensure you discuss your sleep issues with your doctor as soon as possible.