Common Sleep Disorders – Causes and Treatment

Sleep Disorders


The most common sleep disorders involve insomnia and sleep apnea. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, or not feeling rested even if the person does fall asleep. Anyone can experience insomnia, but it is common in people over 60 years old and those with a depressive disorder. Sleep apnea is a disorder where a person’s breathing stops for short periods while they are sleeping because their airway becomes blocked, often from tonsils that have fallen back into the throat.

Other Common Sleep Disorder:

A brown bear standing on top of a rock

Other common sleep disorders include narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, REM behavior disorder, and sleepwalking. Narcolepsy is a condition where the person has extreme bouts of daytime drowsiness as well as uncontrollable sleep attacks. Restless leg syndrome is a disorder where the person has an uncomfortable sensation in their legs accompanied by an uncontrollable need to move the legs. People with REM behavior disorder act out their dreams, often kicking and punching while they are asleep. Sleepwalking can also occur during NREM sleep when the brain produces Delta waves, but it occurs most commonly during slow-wave sleep – which makes sense because people tend to be less active when they are in slow-wave sleep due to its restorative properties.

Due to the prevalence of these disorders, doctors have developed treatments for them that are safe and effective. For instance, many patients who suffer from restless leg syndrome take iron supplements since iron deficiency is one of the leading causes of this disease. Treatment of hypersomnia, or excessive sleepiness, is also highly effective for most patients with this condition.

Causes of Sleep Disorder:

Sleep disorders are caused by various factors. The most common factors are sleeping in the wrong position, sleep-related illnesses, stress, exercise, and environmental stimuli, such as noise and light.

Symptoms of Sleep Disorder:

Insomnia is described as having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, and not feeling rested. Other symptoms of insomnia include:


Decreased concentration


Memory problems

Nightmares are extremely vivid dreams that cause emotional responses such as fear. Nightmares generally occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Common types of nightmares include:


Traumatic stress reactions to symbolic stories or real events. For example, if one has had a bad day they may have a nightmare about events similar to what occurred during the day. If one relives an accident by dreaming about it over and over again, then this is a traumatic stress reaction, not an anxiety nightmare.

Night terrors are described as episodes of strong fear or panic that typically occur during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Common symptoms of night terrors include:

Gasping for air while sleeping

Shaking body to get out of bed

Crying and screaming while still in deep sleep

Sweating profusely

Agitation upon waking up

During this time individuals do not respond because they are difficult to wake up. The person experiencing night terrors may be confused when they wake up. If the individual is awakened too easily, it can trigger more panic attacks later on throughout the day.

Treatment of Sleep Disorder:

If a sleep disorder is being caused by a medical problem that can be treated, then it should be treated before anything else. If the sleep disorder is being caused by a chronic illness, the person should talk to their doctor about treating it.

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