What Is A Sleep Disorder?

Most of us have experienced trouble sleeping at one time or another. This is normal and usually temporary, due to stress or other outside factors. But if sleep problems are a regular occurrence and interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

Sleep disorders cause more than just sleepiness. The lack of quality sleep can have a negative impact on your energy, emotional balance, and health. If you're experiencing sleeping problems, learn about the symptoms of common sleep disorders, what you can do to help yourself, and when to see a doctor

Do you . . .

  • Feel irritable or sleepy during the day?
  • Have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading?
  • Fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
  • Have difficulty concentrating?
  • Often get told by others that you look tired?
  • React slowly?
  • Have trouble controlling your emotions?
  • Feel like you have to take a nap almost every day?
  • Require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going?

If you answered "yes" to any of the previous questions, you may have a sleep disorder.

Common sleep disorders


A broad category of sleep disorders characterized by either hypersomnolence or insomnia. The three major subcategories include intrinsic (i.e., arising from within the body), extrinsic (secondary to environmental conditions or various pathologic conditions), and disturbances of circadian rhythm.

  • Insomnia: While not considered a sleep disorder in its own right, insomnia is characterized by the inability to fall asleep and/or remain asleep for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Narcolepsy: The condition of falling asleep spontaneously and unwillingly.
  • Sleep apnea: The obstruction of the airway during sleep.
  • Poor Concentration
  • Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): Involuntary movement of arms and/or legs during sleep. See also Hypnic jerk, which is not a disorder.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS): An irresistible urge to move legs while sleeping. Often accompanies PLMD.
  • Hypersomnia:Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders:Unable to sleep / wake up at times required for normal work / school needs.


  • Rapid eye movement behavior disorder (RBD): Acting out violent or dramatic dreams while in REM sleep.
  • Night terror or Pavor nocturnus or sleep terror disorder: Abrupt awakening from sleep with behavior consistent with terror.
  • Sleepwalking or somnambulism: Engaging in activities that are normally associated with wakefulness (such as eating or dressing), which may include walking, without the conscious knowledge of the subject.
  • Bruxism: The sufferer involuntarily grinds his or her teeth while sleeping.
  • Bedwetting or sleep enuresis
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (or SIDS)
  • Sleep talking (or somniloquy)

Medical / Psychiatric Conditions that may cause sleep disorders

  • Psychoses (like Schizophrenia)
  • Mood disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Alcoholism

Do you have questions? We're here to help.
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