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Sleep Disorders: Why You Need To Know About Them.

What Is A Sleep Disorder

A sleep disorder is a change in sleeping patterns or habits that can repeatedly affect your health. Most sleep disorders are characterized by one or more of the following

  • Trouble falling or remaining asleep
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Prone to unusual behavior that disrupts your sleep
  • Disturbance in the normal pattern of circadian rhythm

Types Of Sleeping Disorders

Sleeping disorders can be broken down into 2 main groups

  • Dyssomnias
  • Parasomnias


These are a group of sleep disorders that cause you an inability to sleep or complications with your sleeping

Insomnia: This is defined as the difficulty to fall asleep or remain asleep. People with insomnia experience excessive daytime sleepiness

Types of insomnia

  • Sleep Onset Insomnia: this occurs when people have difficulty falling asleep.
  • Sleep Maintenance Insomnia: it is the difficulty in staying asleep at night.
  • Mixed Insomnia: This is a hybrid condition characterized by both sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia.

Sleep Apnea: This is a breathing disorder that occurs due to the blockage of the upper airway. People that have this condition often wake up gasping for air. Snoring is a common symptom.

Two types of sleep Apnea

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is caused by a physical obstruction that blocks the upper airway. The obstruction could be attributed to large tonsils and fluid buildup from kidney failure. Obese people are at a high risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: It occurs when the brain stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing leading to choking episodes. Obesity is a common risk factor for CSA.
CPAP machine

Narcolepsy: This is a sleep disorder that causes people to feel exhausted during the day despite obtaining enough sleep. Narcolepsy can cause sleep onset and sleep maintenance issues over time.

Cataplexy: It is a sudden decrease of muscle tone that leads to fall or leaning over as they nod off

Restless Leg Syndrome: This is a sleep-related movement condition that affects 7-10% of the population. It is also known as the Willis Ekbom disease. It is marked by throbbing, itching, and painful sensations.

There is also a strong impulse to move the legs when they are at rest. Symptoms are most severe when in bed.

Excessive Sleepiness/ Hypersomnia: This is a sleep disorder that is marked by intense grogginess during the day. It can lead to people falling asleep at inconvenient times. Diabetes, hypothyroidism, chronic pain, melancholy, and anxiety are just a few of the physical and psychological problems.


These are a group of sleeping disorders that can occur before falling asleep, during sleep or any time in-between. Mostly experienced in children, but some adults experience them as well

Sleep Walking: This happens in the 3rd stage of the sleep cycle. It involves various simple or complex actions done while mostly asleep. These movements can range from incoherent speech to full sentences. Most of the time, the affected individual never has any recollection of the episode when they wake.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder: This disorder is a condition in which a person acts their dream out. It can be a simple movement or a violent movement. People with this disorder do not experience a state of paralysis. This allows them to move their limbs during the episode.

Bruxism: This is a condition in which the individual grinds, gnashes, or clenches teeth while asleep. It can occur during the day or at night.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: This usually involves either difficulty in falling asleep, waking up during the sleep cycle, or waking up too early. This usually makes them unable to fall asleep again. It can be treated with bright light therapy, medication, and behavioral therapy.

Sleep Talking (somnambulism): This can happen during REM or non-REM sleep. In most cases of sleep talking, words are usually mumblings or silent speech ( just moving lips but no sound is being made). Although in some patients whose episodes were recorded, their sleep talking included negative, profane, and derogatory words.

Night Terrors: it is called an arousal disorder. This disorder occurs during non-REM sleep and usually occurs during the 1st 3-to 4 hours of the night. It is marked by showing signs of panic and terror while sleeping. Increased heart rate, sweating, and dilatation of pupils are a few accompanying symptoms.

There are also other types of parasomnias but these are some of the common ones.

Sleep Aids

According to a Consumer Reports poll, over 20% of individuals have tried a natural sleep treatment in the previous year. Melatonin is a popular insomnia treatment, however, its effectiveness for sleep is unknown. According to Consumer Reports, just 5% to 10% of people suffer sleepiness after using melatonin, and 24% experience drowsiness or fogginess the next day after taking it. When natural solutions fail, some people turn to over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, or other sleep-inducing substances. Another survey was also conducted in 2021 that found the following.

  • Natural vitamins and supplements were taken by 20% of participants (like melatonin or magnesium)
  • Over-the-counter pain medications were used by 10% of participants (Tylenol PM)
  • 9% of people used marijuana.
  • Over-the-counter sleep aids were utilized by 8% of respondents (such as Unisom)
  • Antihistamines, which produce drowsiness, were used by 7% of people (like Benadryl, piriton)
  • 7% of people utilized prescription sleeping pills (including lexotan, Cen pain, bromazepam, etc.)
  • 6% consumed alcoholic beverages.
  • 5% of people utilize CBD oil.
  • 3% of people said they used other drugs to sleep.


According to the Philips Global Sleep Survey, 67% of adults report sleep disturbances at least once every night and 8 in 10 adults around the world want to improve their sleep, yet less than half of those people may actually receive treatment. Sleep disorders often lead to other health conditions—both mental and physical.

Consult your doctor if you begin to notice any signs of sleeping disorders

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