Most Common Sleep Disorders

Sleep is an essential factor in people’s general health and well-being. In fact, your brain performance, mood and anxiety levels, risk for breast cancer, stroke, and diabetes are greatly affected by your sleeping habits. Unfortunately, many people do not get the right amount of sleep every night because of various sleep disorders that may not only affect the quantity and quality of sleep but also lead to health problems if they are left untreated. If you struggle to get enough sleep, a New York City-based pulmonologist can help you determine if you have a sleep disorder, identify it, and address it. That way, you can start enjoying all the benefits of good quality sleep. Here is a list of the most common sleep disorders, their symptoms, and their causes.


Common Sleep Disorders


1. Insomnia

When a person is having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, when they are not sleeping enough or not sleeping well, they might have insomnia. The two main ways that experts use to put insomnia into categories are:

  • Time: Insomnia can be short-term or long-term, the short-term being acute and the long-term being chronic. The chronic form is the disorder.
  • Cause: Primary insomnia happens on its own, while secondary insomnia is a symptom of another condition.

Both long-term and short-term insomnia are common around the world. An estimated 1:3 adults worldwide suffer from insomnia symptoms, and around 10% of them have been found to have insomnia disorder. Of the most common sleep disorders, insomnia is arguably the most well-recognized.


Symptoms and Causes

There are three different categories of insomnia symptoms:

  • When the patient experiences sleep troubles
  • Daytime effects
  • Chronic insomnia characteristics


When the Patient Experiences Sleep Troubles

  • Initial insomnia is when the patient has trouble falling asleep.
  • Middle insomnia is when the patient has trouble falling asleep.
  • Late insomnia is when the patient often wakes up too early and can no longer go back to sleep.


Daytime Effects

  • Feeling tired or unwell
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Delayed reactions
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • feeling anxious, depressed, and irritable


Chronic Insomnia Characteristics

  • Trouble going to sleep
  • Staying awake at night
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Sleepy during the day
  • Waking up tired
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Increased mistakes and accidents


Causes of Insomnia

This disorder may be caused by anxiety, stress, depression, certain medications, and lifestyle choices.


2. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the patient’s breathing stops and restarts many times during sleep.



  • Loud snoring
  • Breathing stops during sleep
  • Gasping for air while sleeping
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches in the morning



  • Obesity
  • Anatomical features
  • Genetic factors


3. Restless Leg Syndrome

This condition causes a strong urge to move the legs due to feelings of discomfort. It can begin at any age and worsen with age.



  • Unpleasant sensations like crawling, throbbing, itching, tingling, creeping, aching, or burning, that begin when resting
  • Irresistible urge to move the legs
  • Worse symptoms at night
  • Relief with movement



  • Chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy

Restless leg syndrome sometimes occurs with other medical conditions like iron deficiency, kidney failure, spinal cord conditions, peripheral neuropathy, and Parkinson’s disease.


4. Narcolepsy


Narcolepsy is a disorder that affects the brain’s ability to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.



  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (falling asleep without warning, anywhere at any time, even when you are talking to your friends)
  • lack of focus
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone or cataplexy, which can cause slurred speech or weakness in most muscles
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep paralysis which prevents you from moving or talking while falling asleep or upon waking. It can last for a few seconds or minutes.
  • Changes in rapid eye movement
  • Disrupted nighttime sleep



The exact cause is still unknown. However, people with type 1 narcolepsy are found to have low levels of hypocretin, which is a chemical in the brain that controls wakefulness. Exposure to swine flu and the person’s genetics also play significant roles.


5. REM Sleep Disorder

This disorder is characterized by dream enactment behaviors such as punching, violent thrashing, and kicking. It can begin slowly, but it worsens with time. REM Sleep Disorder usually affects men who are 50 and over. However, in recent years, the number of women under age 50 who are being diagnosed with this disorder has grown. Young adults and children can also develop this disorder.



  • Movements such as jumping from the bed, kicking, punching, arm flailing, and others occur while dreaming action-packed or violent dreams, such as chasing, being chased, or defending yourself.
  • Laughing, talking, or shouting while dreaming
  • Ability to recall the dream upon waking from the dream



Usually, the nerve pathways in the brain that prevent the muscles from moving are active during the REM stage. However, when you have a REM sleep disorder, these nerve pathways fail to work, causing you to act out when you dream.


Sleep Disorder Treatments

The symptoms of sleep disorders should not be ignored. A proper diagnosis by a reputable licensed health specialist will help you get proper and effective treatment.

There are various sleep disorder treatment methods available for people with sleep disorders.  Light therapy, orofacial therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy are usually used. You may be advised to change your lifestyle and choose healthier choices and habits.  Healthcare providers may also prescribe medicines and supplements to help address the disorder. There may even be devices that your doctor can recommend to help decrease the symptoms.


Consult a Sleep Professional Today

Sleep is incredibly beneficial to your brain and body. It allows your brain to rest and your body to heal. Good quality sleep allows you to wake up feeling well-rested, refreshed, and energized to do all the things you need to do and love to do. In contrast, sleep deprivation will wreak havoc on your health and negatively impact your personal and professional life.

If you have been struggling with sleep and you can identify with the most common sleep disorders named here, schedule a consultation with us today. An early diagnosis will ensure that treatment can begin as soon as possible, preventing any health problems that sleep deprivation can cause.

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