A sleep disorder is a condition that affects one’s ability to get sufficient good quality of sleep on a regular basis. Sleep disorders lead to sleep disruptions, which can have a negative effect on one’s energy, motivation, concentration, mood, and overall health. ‘In some cases, a sleep disorder is a symptom of a more serious medical or mental health condition.
There are over 80 different sleep disorders. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD) puts them into seven categories.
- Sleep Related Breathing Disorders (e.g Sleep apnea )
- Central Disorders of Hypersomnolence (e.g. Narcolepsy )
- Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders (e.g. Shift-work disorder )
- Parasomnias (e.g. Somnambulism )
- Sleep Related Movement Disorders (e.g. Restless leg syndrome , bruxism )
Sleep disorders can have many causes:
- Allergies and respiratory problems: when you cannot breathe due to a cold or allergy, it is tough to fall asleep and sleep soundly.
- Nocturia: the need to urinate frequently is another sleep disruptor that forces us to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Chronic pain: experiencing pain in your body such as arthritis, headaches, or muscle pains, will prohibit you from getting that restful sleep.
- Stress and anxiety: a preoccupied mind will not fall asleep quickly and heightens the chances of nightmares and other sleep disruptors. This is why setting aside worries and work is important before bed.
- Genetics: Some sleep disorders such as parasomnia often run in families .
- Neurological disorders: Narcolepsy, although it can occur on its own, is also caused by certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
- Obesity: Obstructive sleep apnea is often caused by obesity or excess weight , which leads to a blockage within the soft tissue of the mouth and throat.
Some of the most common types of sleeping disorders will be explained in the following sections.