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A List of Sleeping Disorders

Updated on June 9, 2014

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

There are many side effects associated with not getting enough sleep.
There are many side effects associated with not getting enough sleep. | Source

Different Types of Sleep Disorders

For many a good night sleep is an elusive dream. For others uncontrolled falling asleep is a potential nightmare. There are numerous types of sleeping disorders that many people have to cope with. We will consider just three of the different types of sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Narcolepsy

We will consider each of these one at a time. For each of these sleep disorders, we will also consider tips for dealing with them.

Sleeping Disorder Poll

Do you suffer from any type of sleep disorder?

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Potential Complications of Insomnia



Insomnia has been defined by the Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health as "a sleep disorder consisting of an inability to fall asleep easily or to remain asleep throughout the night." Rather than being considered a disease it is generally consider a symptom of other health issues. There are a number of health issues that can potentially be linked with insomnia.

Insomnia is the most common of all sleep disorders. According to some estimates 30-50% of all people have experienced insomnia. About 10% suffer from chronic insomnia.

With myself I have at times have struggled with bouts of insomnia from time to time. With me it was partly contributed by the fact that I have developed poor sleeping habits in my teens and I have spent a number of years working graveyard shifts. These factors have messed up my internal sleep clock. When I did go off working midnight shifts it took me a while to adjust to a regular sleeping pattern. Even though my sleep has gradually improved, it can still be a struggle from time to time.

Insomnia Poll

Do you suffer from insomnia?

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Beating Insomnia

Tips for Dealing with Insomnia

Because insomnia is considered a symptom, if you are suffering from insomnia it would be good to consult with a doctor to see if they can pinpoint the specific cause of the insomnia. By treating the sickness instead of the symptom, sleep may improve naturally.

Even though there are drugs which can help in chronic cases of insomnia, quite often simple lifestyle changes can contribute to sleeping better. For example if you are a coffee addict cutting back on your coffee intake, or not drinking coffee late into the evening can help you sleep better. Even though I am still a borderline coffee addict, cutting back on my coffee intake has helped me sleep better. In my case the things I did to help keep me awake back when I worked night shifts were the same things that kept me awake when I was trying to get to sleep.

Also because insomnia can be closely associated with stress, finding ways to relax and relive stress can help as well. For example taking a hot bath before you go to bed, reading a book, listening to relaxing music are all activities that can potentially help you to sleep better.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Sleep Apnea Research

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder which involves pauses in breathing (or shallow breathing) during the sleeping process. The pauses can range from seconds to minutes and can frequently occur during the course of an hour.

Individuals with sleep apnea suffer from poor sleep. Because individuals actually stop breathing, sleep apnea can potentially be dangerous.

Sleep Apnea Surgery

Illustration of mouth and throat surgery which can help in treating sleep apnea.
Illustration of mouth and throat surgery which can help in treating sleep apnea. | Source

Sleep Apnea Poll

Do you suffer from sleep apnea?

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Tips for Dealing with Sleep Apnea

If you have any problems with sleeping or if your spouse notices abnormal breathing during sleep it would be good to seek medical help. Sleep apnea quite often is diagnosed by being sent to a sleep clinic where your sleep is monitored.

Depending on the severity there are surgical procedures that can be performed. There are also different mouth pieces and other devices that can be used.

Also making lifestyle changes can also help with the treating of sleep apnea. For example, even though it can occur in anyone, sleep apnea is most common among overweight people. So losing weight can also help in dealing with sleep apnea.

Narcolepsy (NHS Choices)


Narcolepsy is a daytime sleeping disorder where the individual suffers from excessive sleepiness and daytime sleeping attacks. The narcoleptic may be unable to resist the urge to sleep despite getting a good night sleep.

For example I had a good friend of mine who would dose off for a few seconds mid sentence during a conversation. The amazing thing was that when she woke up she was able to continue the conversation where she left off. That same friend on her own made the decision to stop driving because she realized the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel.

Narcolepsy is a nervous system disorder. It tends to be hereditary. There is no known cure, but there are steps that can be taken to help control the symptoms.

Narcolepsy Poll

Do you suffer from Narcolepsy?

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Tips for Dealing with Narcolepsy

Just like with any other sleeping disorder it would be advisable to consult with a physician. Even though there is no cure there is medication that can help a person stay awake. There are also lifestyle adjustments which could also limit the effect of narcolepsy.

For example avoiding big meals can help limit drowsiness. Also if feasible scheduling a 10-15 minute nap after a meal can help reduce sleep attacks. It would also be good for the narcoleptic to let his supervisors or teachers know about their condition. This would limit the possibility of suffering from the ramifications of being labelled as lazy.

Other Types of Sleeping Disorders

We barely scratched the surface by just considering three sleep disorders. There are numerous others as well. Here is a list of a few more types of sleep disorders.

Lists Of Other Types of Sleep Disorders

Type of Sleep Disorder
Symptom of Sleep Disorder
Involuntarily grinding of the teeth while sleeping
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
Inability to wake up and fall asleep at socially acceptable times despite having no problem with sleep maintenance
Sleep Terror Disorder
Abruptly awakening from sleep with behavior consistent with terror (which can include screaming, sweating, etc...)
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behaviour Disorder
Acting out violent or dramatic dreams while in REM sleep
Frequent need to get up and go to the bathroom to urinate at night
A fear of falling asleep, which can include panic attacks during attempts to fall asleep

Trouble Sleeping, Seek Help

If you are experiencing any abnormal sleep patterns or behavior then it would be the course of wisdom to seek medical attention. Steps can be taken to help improve sleep.

© 2014 Chris Baker


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    • ChrisJBaker profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Baker 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Medsimple - I don't have Narcolpsy, but had friends that do. Thanks for the personal insights. Glad you leaned something new.

      Anna Marie - I use to suffer from chronic insomnia where I could even go days without sleep. I think a lot of it was connected to working the graveyard shift. I am better now, but I still struggle from time to time. It can be a challenge. Thanks for the read and the comment.

      Kristyleann - I hope they figure something out when you go for your sleep test. It can be rough when you don't sleep well. Thanks for the read and the comment.

    • kristyleann profile image

      Kristy LeAnn 

      4 years ago from Princeton, WV

      The idea of waking up and feeling energized and refreshed is a totally foreign concept to me. My doctor is pretty sure I have sleep apena (I have some of the risk factors for it and my dad has it and it can be hereditary) so I probably do. I'm actually going to have a sleep study done next week to confirm whether I have it or not. I actually hope I do have it so it can be treated and hopefully I'll know what it's like to not be exhausted all the time. Seriously, some times I wake up and feel worse than I did when I went to sleep. It's like I've been hit by a truck. It's awful.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      4 years ago from Florida

      I have chronic insomnia. I can never fall asleep. If I fall asleep before 1 AM it's a good night. It's usually 2 or 3 AM before I fall asleep, and I'm up at 8 AM, so I am lucky to get five or six hours of sleep a night. I know it affects me, but I refuse to take pills, and nothing else works.

    • medsimple profile image

      Dr Val 

      4 years ago

      Sometimes, i suffer from narcolepsy with increased tendency to fall asleep during class hours even after having a good night rest the previous night.

      As a medical student, i was able to treat myself with methylphenidate, a drug similar to amphetamines. It is also indicated for ADHD patients.

      By the way, you have a nice hub here. At least i have learnt a new medical term today, Bruxism.


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