How to Tell if You Have a Sleep Disorder
Sleep disorders are rather common. Find out if you are suffering from one.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s believed that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder.
A sleep disorder – technically known as a somnipathy or dyssomnia – is any medical disorder which negatively affects a person’s healthy sleep patterns. Usually this involves less than adequate sleep to the extent that this may interfere with the person’s normal physical, mental and emotional functioning, but excessive sleep (such as in hypersomnia and narcolepsy) can also be a problem.
There are more than 80 types of sleep disorders that fall into one of seven categories including, insomnias, sleep-related breathing disorders, sleep-related movement disorders, sleep-wake disorders, hypersomnias, and parasomnias.
Browse all of our resources that deep dive into the various types of sleep disorders, how to recognize the symptoms, what to do if you think you have a sleep disorder, and treatment options.
Sleep disorders are fairly common and they have a variety of causes including mental illness, physical health conditions, medications, genetics, irregular sleep schedules (i.e. shift workers), and aging. Not to mention the hidden list of unknown causes that researchers are still working to uncover.
In some cases, individuals don’t even realize they have a sleep disorder and it takes their bed partner, who recognizes abnormal sleep behavior, to point them out. Yet, there are a number of signals one can observe in themselves that indicate they suffer from some kind of sleep disorder.
The most blatant symptom that you have a sleep disorder is being constantly tired as a result of little sleep, failing to fall asleep easily, frequent interruptions during sleep, and overall poor quality of sleep.
If you believe you may have a sleep disorder, the first step is to discuss your observations and concerns with a physician. Recognizing the common signs of a sleep disorder can help you catch a potential issue quickly.
See our resources below to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of sleep disorders.
Sleep disorders are rather common. Find out if you are suffering from one.
Sleep disorders can have a strong genetic component or even a direct genetic cause. Learn more about how poor sleep can run in the family.
Find out how undergoing a sleep study at a specialized sleep clinic can help you treat your sleep problems.
Understand how to navigate a sleep test report discussion after your sleep test.
Typically, sufferers may complain of difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty staying asleep, intermittent wakefulness during the night, early morning awakening, or combinations of any or all of these.
It should be noted that the vast majority of those afflicted with sleep disorders (even some of the more garish and extreme ones) are not suffering from unaddressed psychological problems as was once assumed, but have healthy psychological profiles similar to the rest of the population.
Sleep problems are a notoriously common issue, and researchers are constantly working to better understand the causes. In one recent study, nearly 60% of Americans complained of insomnia symptoms a few nights of the week or more, and up to 20% may be affected by chronic sleep disorders.
Another study, more commonly quoted, indicates that 30%-40% of adults suffer from some degree of sleep loss in any given year, with about 10%-15% categorized as chronic or severe. It should also be noted, though, that sleep state misperception is quite common, and often people actually sleep significantly longer than they think. On the other hand, many sleep disorders are notoriously difficult to diagnose and are often mis-diagnosed.
There are numerous types of sleep disorders that fall into one of six categories; however, oftentimes different disorders can be closely related. The most common types of sleep disorders in American adults are insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.
The six types of sleep disorders we’ll review below include:
Insomnia is defined by difficulty falling or staying asleep and is one of the most common sleep disorders across the US population, affecting roughly 40% of adults at some point in their lives.
There are two categories of insomnia: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia means experiencing sleep problems unrelated to any other health condition or life circumstance. Secondary insomnia means experiencing sleep issues as a result of something else.
Insomnia also varies in the length of time it lasts and the frequency that someone experiences it. In some cases, people have insomnia for a short period of time (acute insomnia). Other times, individuals may experience insomnia in the long-term (chronic insomnia).
Learn more about the symptoms, causes, types and treatment for insomnia in our resources below.
Learn about the causes and types of insomnia, common symptoms, and treatment options for this sleeping disorder.
Learn about natural ways to resolve your sleeplessness.
Sleep-related breathing disorders, also called sleep-disordered breathing, are defined by abnormal respiration during sleep. The most common sleep-related breathing disorder is sleep apnea.
Twenty-five million American adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and half the population reports snoring, which is a habit our culture tends to laugh about but in reality, it can be a sign of a larger health problem.
Learn more about specific sleep-related breathing disorders in our resources below.
Learn what causes sleep apnea, symptoms of this sleep disorder, and treatment options.
Everything you need to know about at-home sleep apnea testing or overnight sleep apnea testing at clinics.
There are many products out there that claim to stop sleep apnea. How do we know which are the ones to go for?
Learn how sleep apnea in children can be an underlying cause for ADHD symptoms.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a health hazard that can be alleviated in a variety of ways. Read these tips to help determine which treatment is right for you.
How to tell if your snoring is just plain old annoying or if you should probably see a doctor.
Sleep-wake disorders, also known as circadian rhythm disorders, are experienced when the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) is out of sync with the surrounding environment.
In other words, people with this type of sleep disorder fail to fall asleep and wake up at appropriate times— i.e. sleep during the day and stay awake at night. Some of the most common sleep-wake disorders are jet lag disorder, shift-work sleep disorder, delayed sleep phase disorder (DSP), and advanced sleep phase disorder (ASP).
Learn more about sleep-wake sleep disorders in our resources below.
Learn about sleep disorders relating to the disruption of the sleep-wake cycle.
Night shift workers are at risk of this harmful disorder. Learn what exactly SWSD is and how you can avoid it.
Learn how to sleep better while traveling and keep your sleep cycles in sync.
Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder can lead to sleep deprivation, social challenges, and health concerns. Learn more about what ASPD is and how to treat it.
If you can’t fall asleep at a reasonable hour, and late night bedtimes are causing work/life challenges, you may have a problem with your circadian rhythm called delayed sleep phase disorder.
Have you ever accidentally fallen asleep for a split second? Learn why microsleep happens and what you can do to stop it.
Hypersomnia, sometimes referred to as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) disorder, is a sleep condition in which you feel excessive sleepiness during the day even if you have logged an adequate amount of shut eye the night before. You can think of hypersomnia as the opposite of insomnia.
Similar to insomnia, hypersomnia can be a primary or secondary condition. People who suffer from chronic tiredness caused by hypersomnia often have difficulty functioning during the day due to a lack of concentration and energy.
Learn more about hypersomnia types and treatments in our resources below.
Narcolepsy is a disorder characterized by falling asleep during the day. Learn about the causes, systems and treatment options for managing this condition.
Parasomnia is the word used to categorize abnormal behavior that can take place during sleep. Some of the parasomnias you’ll be most familiar with are nightmares and sleepwalking.
However, there are a number of other parasomnias you may not have heard of, such as, sexsomnia, sleep paralysis, and sleep-related eating disorder. Ten percent of the population is affected by this type of sleep disorder and it’s most likely linked to genetics.
Learn more about different types and treatments for parasomnias in our resources below.
Learn about what might be keeping you (and your partner) awake at night and what you can do about it.
Read about the mystery surrounding sleep paralysis and what medical science has to say.
Do you ever hear a loud crashing noise as you're falling asleep? You aren't alone. Learn about this painless but frightening parasomnia that could be disturbing your sleep.
Talking in your sleep is fairly common and harmless. Learn why some people talk in their sleep at night.
Sleep-related movement disorders are characterized by abnormal movements that take place while falling asleep or during sleep itself. The most common sleep disorders of this kind are teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Learn more about the different types of sleep-related movement disorders in our resources below.
Learn about taking action if you think that you might struggle with bruxism (teeth grinding) while you sleep.
Learn how Restless Leg Syndrome can ruin your sleep and what you can do about it.
A few other minor sleep disorders and conditions affecting sleep are worth mentioning, including:
Many other superficially unconnected medical or psychological conditions have nevertheless been closely linked with sleep problems. It is, however, not always clear where the causal relationship lies: in some cases, the conditions lead to sleep problems; in other cases, the opposite is true, and long-term sleep disorders can actually cause the conditions; occasionally, both may occur, in a spiral of positive reinforcement.
Some or the better-known diseases and conditions that fall into this category include the following: