Getting good sleep is important for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, male or female, or what other categories you might fall into.
We all need good sleep to feel our best and get things done every day. When you have a sleep disorder, though, you can quickly start losing sleep and feeling bad.
Important! Some sleep disorders are easy to fix, and others are more complicated. But the best thing to do is find out what’s causing you to miss out on good sleep.
Maybe you can’t fall asleep fast enough, or you don’t stay asleep.
Are you waking up early? Having bad dreams? Maybe you just don’t feel rested, even though you slept through the night.
No matter what kinds of sleep-related problems you’re having, getting to the bottom of the issue and seeking out good treatment both matter.
Here’s everything you need to know when dealing with a sleep disorder. Being an informed patient can help you get the best treatment, so you can get a good night’s sleep again.
In this Guide
- What is a Sleep Disorder?
- Signs and symptoms
- When to Visit a Doctor
- What Causes a Sleeping Disorder?
- The 6 Major Sleep Disorders
- Treatments and Therapies
- Risks and Dangers of Sleep Disorders
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Conclusion: Is it Time to See Your Doctor?
What is a Sleep Disorder?
It’s a recurring problem that has minor to serious affects the length of time you sleep, the quality of it, or other factors over time. It can be everything from waking too early to having bad dreams, or even falling asleep when you shouldn’t.
It’s a medical disorder, also called somnipathy. Some sleep disorders interfere with daily life and can be severe, while others are more minor.
Signs and Symptoms
In order to address all the ways that sleep disturbances can affect your life, you want to understand the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing. To do that effectively, and to have something to look back on for patterns to the problem, you may want to keep a sleep diary.
The main signs and symptoms of sleep disorders include:
There are other problems that can come about if you have a sleep disorder, but these are the most common issues. If you only have minor problems for a short time, it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if you struggle to sleep well and the issue doesn’t seem to be going away, talking to your doctor could be the right choice.
When to Visit a Doctor
Anyone who has problems with their sleep patterns that are starting to affect their daily life may want to see their doctor. Working with a medical professional can make it easier to get to the bottom of the problem.
That means faster diagnosis and faster treatment. Sleep issues and disorders were first classified by the medical profession in 1979. Since that time, the types of disorders and how they’re classified has continued to evolve.
Doctors and expert health care providers diagnose sleep problems in a number of different ways, including using the most current version of the full manual of sleep disorders. This manual has developed from the early days of classification, where all sleep problems were included under one “umbrella” disorder.
Now, there are a number of different types of sleep disorders, many of which have different root causes and different treatments, as well. The most commonly used diagnostic tests for sleep-related issues are:
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides practice standards, clinical research, and much more for doctors who work to diagnose sleep disorders. Case studies, trends, and outliers are all examined for ways that information can be used to more easily diagnose those who struggle with sleep problems.
Among the largest issues for doctors is determining the cause of a person’s sleep disturbance. Once the cause is addressed, better treatment can be recommended.
What Causes a Sleeping Disorder?
There are a number of conditions, syndromes, and health problems that can cause a sleep disorder. Lifestyle choices can also play a role for some people.
In order for a doctor to properly diagnose one, that doctor must determine the cause of the disorder as closely as possible. In some cases, there are multiple problems affecting a person’s ability to sleep. Here are some of the most common reasons for a sleep disorder:
While there can be other causes of sleep disorders in some folks, these are the most common diseases and conditions that cause sleep difficulties.
They are some of the conditions your doctor will test for and ask you about. If you aren’t found to have any of these issues, then it’s time to explore more rare reasons for your sleep struggles.
The 6 Major Sleep Disorders
The ultimate list of sleep disorders is right here, along with the most common treatment for each of the disorders addressed.
That doesn’t mean another type of treatment won’t work for you, though, so ask your doctor about your specific concerns. Generally, the most common treatment works for the majority of people who have that particular sleep disorder. Here are the disorders you’ll want to consider if you’re having trouble with sleep.
Insomnia is, by far, the most commonly recognized sleep disorder. Nearly everyone has heard of it and understands that it essentially means that the person has trouble sleeping.
Generally, those with insomnia struggle to drift off to sleep but may sleep well once they do eventually doze off. In some cases, they also wake early.
Treatments for insomnia are varied and numerous. The treatment that’s right for you will depend on the root cause and why it happens to you.
2. Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders
The body’s circadian rhythm is what causes you to feel sleepy during certain times of the day and feel more awake during other times.
This usually coincides with the planet’s cycles of light and dark, or day and night.
In some cases, this rhythm can be disrupted by disorders or activities. Some of the most common causes of circadian rhythm problems are listed here:
While these types of disturbances are significant, they’re certainly not the only kinds of disorders faced by people who have trouble with sleep. There are a number of other conditions that can cause difficulties, and that also has to be understood. Fortunately, these disorders also have treatment options.
Typically, hypersomnias involve sleeping too much, or at inappropriate times of the day.
Most people think of narcolepsy as falling into this category, but there are other conditions that are also a part of this group of disorders.
Four of the most common hypersomnias are discussed here:
Hypersomnias can be difficult to treat and control, but there are options to improve sleep quality and timing. Working with your doctor is the best way to find the cause of your sleep troubles and the treatment option that’s going to be right for you.
These are another class of sleep disorders is parasomnias which can cause serious issues based on the lack of sleep, but can also be problematic in other aspects of health.
Not only for you, but also members of your family and even your partner will be impacted.
Parasomnias can be caused by other health issues, or they can also be the cause of them.
The main disorders are:
Because parasomnias can be difficult to control and treat, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best way to handle them.
Medications may be the right choice, but there are also behavioral treatments and other therapies that can work well. If an underlying cause is found, treating that cause can reduce or eliminate sleep disorder symptoms, as well.
5. Sleep-Related Movement Disorders
The idea of having uncontrollable movements while sleeping can seem frightening to a lot of folks, but it’s something that happens to many people.
These sleep-related movement disorders are significant and can affect sleep quality.
The good news is they’re also treatable in the majority of cases, so can be considered minor.
Here are the most commonly seen types:
Movement disorders can be a serious problem for anyone who struggles with them. Fortunately, most of these disorders aren’t dangerous. However, some sleep disorders can actually put people at risk of harm. Those will be explored in the next section.
6. Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders
Breathing disorders can be anything that causes a person to have a problem breathing while they’re trying to sleep.
Some of these disorders can be potentially life-threatening, and can also cause other health problems. So it’s crucial that you take these seriously if you have any of the following issues below.
Here are the three most common disorders that involve breathing:
Since breathing disorders can be very dangerous to long-term health and well-being, it’s important to get them treated quickly.
But what kinds of treatments do these problems – and the other sleep disorders addressed here actually have? There are many options, many of which have been mentioned. But there are also fewer standard treatments, and these can be very valuable.
Treatments and Therapies
When it comes to treating sleep disorders, alternative or unexpected therapies can be just as valuable as the more common ones. Here are some treatments to consider, along with or in place of more typical options.
Talking to your doctor will help you find the treatment that’s right for you. Some sleep disorders are more serious than others and will need a different kind of treatment. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis, so your treatment is successful.
Risks and Dangers of Sleep Disorders
The main risks and dangers of sleep disorders include breathing problems, heart conditions, weight gain, and accidents from sleep deprivation.
There are other risks, but these are the most serious and significant.
That’s why it’s important to treat a sleep disorder promptly before it can become more serious or dangerous to your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a disorder and a problem?
A problem is generally more of an annoyance. A disorder affects your quality of life and can be damaging to your health.
What can cause sleep disorders?
A wide variety of conditions can cause sleep disorders. Your doctor can help determine what might be causing yours.
How many sleep disorders are there?
There are around 80 different sleep disorders, with some being much more common than others.
Are sleeping disorders neurological?
While many sleep disorders are neurological, they can also be caused by many other factors.
Is a sleep disorder considered a disability?
Most sleep disorders are not considered a disability, but some of them can be disabling if they’re severe enough.
Are sleep disorders hereditary?
The vast majority of sleep disorders have no genetic or hereditary component. You won’t pass them on to your children.
Can sleep disorders be treated?
Yes, in the majority of cases. Some also don’t need any treatment.
Conclusion: Is it Time to See Your Doctor?
If you think you might have a sleep disorder, talking to your doctor is the right choice. That way you can be tested, diagnosed, and treated properly. You don’t have to let a sleep disorder affect your rest or your quality of life.
Note: Getting treatment can mean better sleep and health overall, so don’t put off seeing a health professional or underestimate the power of a healthy diet and frequent exercise.