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Sleep Disorders

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Sleep disorders are conditions that causes disturbed sleep. This includes inability to fall asleep, or go back to sleep, waking up frequently during the night, etc. Many people suffer from sleep disturbances as they can develop at any age. There are many causes of sleep disorders and each one has a different treatment plan. It is important to treat sleep disorders as it causes one to be tired during the day, feel irritable as well as find it difficult to concentrate during the day.

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorder symptoms are often a telltale sign that something is wrong within your body. Sleep deprivation causes plenty of problems that can affect one physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally as well as socially. If you feel you are suffering from some or most of the symptoms regularly, then it may be an indication of sleep disorder. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling irritable all day
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Problems staying awake when sitting still, watching TV, reading or using the computer
  • Feeling very tired all day
  • Falling asleep when driving
  • Problems with concentration
  • People often tell you that you look tired
  • Become slow to react
  • An urge to take a nap every day
  • Drinking more caffeinated drinks to keep oneself awake
  • Taking sleeping pills to help you fall asleep
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Problems falling asleep or difficulty to go back to sleep after waking up during the night
  • Strong urge to continuously move the legs when sleeping

Causes of Sleep Disorders

There are many different types of sleep disorders and they are broadly classified into four groups. Let us have a look at these types of sleep disorders and learn more about the causes that leads to disturbed sleep.


This broad category of sleep disorder is further divided into three subcategories. These include conditions with an intrinsic cause, that is, from within the body, extrinsic, that is, arising due to environmental conditions or other pathological conditions and disturbances of the circadian rhythm. The conditions that come under dyssomnias include:

  • Insomnia
  • Primary hypersomnia that includes narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, recurrent hypersomnia, menstrual-related hypersomnia and post traumatic hypersomnia
  • Sleep disordered breathing(SDB) that includes sleep apnea, snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Periodic limb movement disorder
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders such as delayed sleep phase disorder, advanced sleep phase disorder, non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder
  • Parasomnias that involve abnormal and unnatural movements, emotions, behaviors, perceptions, dreams, etc.
  • Bruxism
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep talking
  • Sleep terror
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Bedwetting
  • Sleep sex
  • Exploding head syndrome

Psychiatric or medical conditions that can cause sleep disturbances include:

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  • Psychosis
  • Mood disorders like anxiety
  • Panic
  • Alcoholism
  • Sleeping sickness is a disease caused by a parasite transmitted by the Tsetse fly.

Diagnosis of Sleep Disorders

Most of the sleep disorders are diagnosed with the help of polysomnography test. Other tests include electroencephalogram (EEG) and in case of narcolepsy, genetic blood testing.

Treatment for Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders treatment varies according to the condition diagnosed. Some of the treatments for sleep disorders include:

  • Prescribing sleeping pills
  • Use of breathing devices or surgery to treat sleep apnea
  • Following a regular sleep schedule
  • Psychotherapy
  • Limiting the intake of water at evening
  • Reducing the intake of coffee or tea
  • Avoiding use of tobacco or alcohol
  • Addressing the underlying medical condition that leads to sleep disturbances
  • Hypnosis in case of chronic insomnia

Sleep disorders can disrupt the normal functioning of the body and mind. If you are suffering in silence due to sleep disturbances, speak to a doctor. Your condition may be treatable and help you give some peace of mind as well as help improve productivity at work and improve your personal relationships.

You may also like to read

Obstructive sleep apnea
Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
Sleep bruxism
Ways to stop snoring
Sleep that induce natural sleep
Nocturnal leg cramp
Sleep apnea

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 07, 2015

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