Sleep Disorders


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By Medicover Hospitals / 08 Mar 2021
Home | symptoms | sleep-disorders
  • Sleep disorders are issues that cause because of the way your sleep may alter. A sleep disorder can affect your overall health, safety, and quality of life. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to drive safely and increase your risk for other health problems. It is also possible to classify sleep disorders based on habits, issues with the normal sleep-wake patterns, problems with breathing, difficulty sleeping, or how drowsy you feel during the day.
  • Article Context:

    1. What Are Sleep Disorders?
    2. Types of Sleep Disorders:
    3. Causes
    4. Diagnosis
    5. Treatment
    6. When to visit a Doctor?
    7. Prevention
    8. FAQ's

    What Are Sleep Disorders?

  • Sleep disorders are conditions that impair your sleep or prevent you from a restful sleep and, as a result, can cause daytime sleepiness and other symptoms. Everyone can experience trouble sleeping from time to time. However, you may have a sleep disorder if:
    • You regularly experience difficulty sleeping
    • You are often tired during the day, despite having slept at least seven hours the night before
    • You have a reduced or impaired ability to perform normal activities during the day
  • Sleep is very important. Not getting enough sleep can have adverse consequences on school and work performance, interpersonal relationships, health, and safety.
  • Types:

    • Insomnia, in which you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night.
    • Sleep apnea, in which you experience abnormal breathing patterns while you sleep.
    • Restless legs syndrome (RLS), a kind of disorder of sleep activity. Restless legs syndrome, also called Willis-Ekbom disease, causes a feeling of discomfort and the need to move your legs while trying to fall asleep.
    • Narcolepsy, a condition characterized by extreme drowsiness during the day and falling asleep suddenly during the day.


  • Trouble sleeping can be due to several factors. Although the causes may differ, the result of all sleep disorders is that the body's natural cycle of daytime sleep and wake is disrupted or exaggerated. Eight factors include:
    • Physical (such as ulcers)
    • Medical (such as asthma)
    • Psychiatric medicine (such as depression and anxiety disorders)
    • Environmental (like alcohol)
    • Working the night shift (this work schedule messes up "biological clocks")
    • Genetics (narcolepsy is genetic)
    • Medications (some interfere with sleep)
    • Aging (about half of all adults over 65 have a sleep disorder. It is not clear if this is a normal part of aging or the result of medications that older people commonly use)


  • To determine the cause of the sleep issue, a doctor might conduct a physical examination and take a medical and sleep history. Further testing may be required. During the exam, your contribution to insomnia. For example, you may be asked about chronic snoring and recent weight gain, which could suggest that sleep apnea causes insomnia. They will also likely ask you questions to see if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other conditions that may prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.
  • Tests Used to Diagnose:

    • Sleep Diary: tracking your sleep patterns can help your doctor reach a diagnosis.
    • Epworth Sleepiness Scale: a validated questionnaire used to assess daytime sleepiness.
    • Polysomnogram: test that measures activity during sleep.
    • Actigraphy: test to evaluate sleep-wake patterns. Actigraphy is a small device worn on the wrist that measures movement.
    • Mental Health Exam: insomnia can be a symptom of depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, a mental status exam, mental health history, and basic psychological evaluations may be part of your initial evaluation.


  • There are a variety of treatments recommended by healthcare providers:
    • Counseling: Some sleep specialists recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of counseling helps you "recognize, challenge, and change the stressful thoughts" that can keep you awake at night.
    • Medications and supplements
    • Practice sleep hygiene, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule
    • Exercise regularly
    • Minimize noise
    • Minimize the light
    • Control the temperature so you feel comfortable
  • Your healthcare provider will recommend treatments based on your particular situation and may recommend the following medications and supplements:
    • Sleep aids can be helpful sometimes for insomnia, such as melatonin, zolpidem, zaleplon, eszopiclone, ramelteon, suvorexant, lamborexant, or doxepin.
    • Restless legs syndrome can be treated with gabapentin, gabapentin enacarbil, or pregabalin.
    • Narcolepsy can be treated with various stimulants or medications that promote wakefulness, such as Modafinil, Armodafinil, Pitolisant, and Solriamfetol.

    When to visit a Doctor?

  • Immediately consult your physician, if you experience these signs:
    • Falling asleep while driving
    • Struggle to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching TV or reading
    • Has difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school, or home
    • You have performance problems at work or school
    • You are often told by others that you seem tired
    • You have difficulty with your memory
    • They have slow responses
    • You have difficulty controlling your emotions
    • You feel the need to take naps almost every day
  • Medical attention is necessary if you experience one or more of these characteristics
  • Prevention:

  • Sleep issues are attributed to preventable health conditions in some situations. For example, experts believe that weight loss can help overweight people with obstructive sleep apnea. In other cases, dietary changes may be necessary to avoid the progression of a sleep disorder. For example, exercise along with a healthy diet can prevent sleep problems.
  • Some problems can be avoided by using good sleep habits, called sleep hygiene. For better sleep, here are few suggestions:
    • Try to go to sleep at night at the same time and wake up each morning at the same time.
    • Try not to nap during the day because naps can make you less sleepy at night.
    • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can prevent you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause you to wake up at night and interfere with the quality of your sleep.
    • Exercise regularly: Try not to exercise near bedtime because it can stimulate you and make it difficult to sleep. Experts suggest not exercising for three hours before bedtime.
    • Don't eat a heavy meal: if you take a heavy measle before going to bed u feel discomfort to sleep because of a heavy stomach.
    • Make your sleeping place comfortable: Make sure it's dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If the light is a problem, try a sleep mask.
    • Follow a routine that helps you relax and rest before bed, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
    • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleeping or having sex
    • If you can't fall asleep and you don't feel drowsy, get up and read or do something not too stimulating until you feel sleepy
    • If you have trouble staying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before bed. This can help you avoid focusing on those worries overnight

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • The inability to fall asleep or get a good night's sleep can be caused by stress, jet lag, a health problem, the medications you take, or even the amount of coffee you drink. Other sleep or mood disorders can also cause insomnia, such as anxiety and depression.
  • While acute insomnia often goes away on its own, it can still have dangerous effects. If you have chronic insomnia, there are steps you can take to try to lessen your symptoms.
  • Insomnia is rarely an isolated medical or mental illness, but a symptom of another illness that results from a person's lifestyle or work schedule.
  • Complications of insomnia can include a lower performance at work or school. Slower reaction time while driving and a higher risk of accidents. Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder, or substance abuse.
  • Not having enough sleep will damage the immune system, cause issues with thought, and lead to gaining weight. It may even increase the chances for some illnesses, asthma, and even car crashes because you don't get enough sleep.
  • Citations:

  • Oxford Scholar -
  • Europe PMC -
  • Oxford Scholar -