Sleep is a biological process that helps the body perform certain functions. In fact, sufficient quality sleep is necessary for maintaining physical and mental health. Disturbed sleeping patterns affect your health, safety, and quality of life.
Sleep disturbance increases your risk of other health disorders too. Sleep disorders are on the rise in the United States. More than 70% of high school students sleep less than eight hours on weeknights, leading to sleep disorders and poor health.
Sleep requirements are personal, age-dependent, and can vary from person to person. When children get too little sleep, it negatively affects their ability to properly and efficiently function.
Sleep disorders occur because of hectic schedules, stress, and fatigue. These disorders occur when prior mentioned issues occur regularly and interfere in someone’s life, causing them to need proper remedial measures.
Disturbed sleep makes a person feel exhausted during the daytime too. Deprivation of a sound sleep interferes with concentration, mood, energy, and entire life.
The causes vary for different sleep disorders. However, the common ones are:
- Heart disease, nerve disorders, lung disease, and pain
- Mental illnesses
- Depression and anxiety
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
- An irregular working schedule
- Exposure to light from electronics
- Adolescents’ natural sleep cycle moves 1.5 to 2.5 hours later than children and adults, both for falling asleep and waking up (“adolescent circadian rhythm shift” causing mental disease in conjunction with early school start times)
- Marijuana use (smoked within 4 hours of “bedtime”)
Sometimes, the causes of sleep disorders are unknown.
When you have a sleep disorder, you want to receive a diagnosis and proper treatment without wasting time. Delays in treatment can lead to further health hazards, affect work efficiency, and impact overall performance.
Just like the causes, the symptoms also vary depending upon the type of disorder. However, there are some signs and symptoms to look out for that demonstrate a person may have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorder signs and symptoms include:
- Difficulty in falling asleep every night
- Waking up several times each night and then having trouble falling back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Falling asleep at the wrong times during the day
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Taking frequent naps
- Snoring loudly, gasping, snorting, making choking sounds, or stopping breathing for short periods
- Jerking legs or arms often during sleep
- Dozing, or having dreamlike experiences while falling asleep
- Having episodes of sudden muscle weakness
- Creeping, crawling, or tingling feelings in legs or arms that are relieved by massaging, or moving them, especially while trying to fall asleep
- Struggling to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching television or reading
- Having difficulty with your memory
- Giving slow responses
- Facing difficulty in paying attention or concentrating at work, in school, or at home
- Mental disorders:
- Depression and anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
Types of sleeping disorders
There are almost eighty different types of sleep disorders. Some of the most common types of disorders among young people are:
The recurring difficulty to go to sleep and remain asleep despite all means to do so is called insomnia. People suffering from insomnia may experience excessive sleepiness in the daytime. About fifty percent of adults experience signs of insomnia, and ten percent suffer from chronic insomnia. Insomnia can be associated with medical or psychiatric conditions or may occur by itself.
- Sleep maintenance insomnia causes difficulty in sleep at night.
- Sleep-onset insomnia means difficulty falling asleep, even if a person feels tired.
- Mixed insomnia is a hybrid condition in which sleep-onset and sleep maintenance insomnia symptoms are found.
Restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome, RLS, is a sleep disorder that creates an intense and irresistible desire to move the legs. In this disorder, the patients feel itching, throbbing, and other painful sensations in their legs and a great desire to move them while at rest. Restless legs syndrome often occurs in the evening, just before the patient wants t to sleep. It can be related to problems in daytime sleepiness, concentration, and irritability. People suffering from RLS want to walk and shake their legs to help relieve the pain.
Restless legs syndrome is a sleep-associated movement disorder found in 7-10% of people in the United States. Unfortunately, it can’t be treated through exercises, changes in lifestyle. However, night-time stretching may provide relief in certain cases.
A common sleep-related breathing disorder is apnea, which occurs due to blockage of the upper airway. People suffering from apnea often wake up choking or gasping for air. Like other sleep disorders, heavy snoring is another common symptom. Sleep apnea can lead to excessive sleepiness and fatigue during the daytime, as well as other cognitive impairments.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by an airway blockage. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses while sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea is generally characterized by fatigue, restlessness, snoring, trouble concentrating, and gasping for air during sleep.
In central sleep apnea (CSA), the airway may not be blocked, but the brain fails to guide the body to breathe. It is known as central sleep apnea because it’s related to central nervous system functions. People suffering from central sleep apnea may gasp for air but generally experience repeated sleep disturbances at night.
Narcolepsy affects the control of sleep and wakefulness, as it is a neurological disorder. In narcolepsy, the patient feels excessively tired during the day despite getting a long rest at night. People with narcolepsy may fall asleep at inopportune times. It can also lead to sleep onset and sleep maintenance problems in some cases.
- Narcolepsy type 1 causes a sudden loss of muscle tone that makes the patient fall or slump over, which can be injurious and painful.
- Narcolepsy type 2 causes sleep attacks.
Narcolepsy symptoms start in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. It normally starts between the ages of seven to twenty-five, but it can be found at any age. Unfortunately, narcolepsy often goes undiagnosed.
When you feel you might have a sleep disorder, immediately seek a diagnosis and treatment. Those who don’t have proper sleep experience significant difficulty in their daily activities like impaired decisionmaking, irritability, slower action times, and accidents during work. Sleep deprivation may also lead to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Failing to get the proper amount of sleep results in tiredness during the day. Sleep disorders affect cognitive function which may cause learning hardships for students, memory loss in people of all ages, depression, and personality changes. Sleep deprivation may also lead to the development of diabetes, heart disease, mental disorders, and obesity. Sleep disorders affect cognitive function, which may cause learning hardships for students, memory loss in people of all ages, dementia, depression, and personality changes.
To deal with sleep disorders and in order to get healthy sleep, visit Sleep On It.
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Sleep disorders. Accessed November 19, 2022.
- Cleveland Clinic. Common Sleep disorders. Updated December 28, 2023. Accessed December 28, 2023.
- Sleep Foundation. Sleep disorders. Updated September 28, 2022. Accessed November 19, 2022.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Narcolepsy fact sheet. Updated September 27, 2022. Accessed November 19, 2022.