What Are the 8 Types of Sleep Disorders?

Medically Reviewed on 5/23/2022

3 characteristics of sleep disorders

sleep problems
Here are the 8 most common types of sleep disorders, which include obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy.

Sleep disorders are conditions that consistently ruin your sleep or hamper you from getting a peaceful night’s rest, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sleep disorders are characterized by:

  • Frequently experience sleep difficulties
  • Feeling exhausted during the day
  • Reduced or impaired ability to perform day-to-day activities

8 most common types of sleep disorders

At present, 70 million people in the United States suffer from sleep disorders.

There are more than 80 different types of sleep disorders, and some of the most common sleep disorders are as follows:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): Results in the obstruction of the air passage as well as in the cessation of breath during sleep. OSA can typically cause daytime drowsiness and affect up to 20 percent of adults.
    • Symptoms of OSA include:
      • Snoring
      • Daytime sleepiness
      • Fatigue
      • Restlessness
      • Gasping for air at night
      • Trouble concentrating in the daytime
  2. Circadian rhythm disorders: Refers to issues with the sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to sleep and wake up in time.
    • People with circadian rhythm disorder may experience these problems:
      • Falling asleep
      • Staying asleep
      • Feeling exhausted after waking
      • Waking up early and not being able to sleep again
      • Poor concentration
      • Headaches
      • Stomach problems
  3. Central sleep apnea (CSA): Causes the body to stop breathing while sleeping in an on-and-off pattern. As it is associated with the dysfunction of the central nervous system, it is referred to as central sleep apnea.
    • Symptoms of CSA may include:
      • Gasping for air
      • Recurrent awakening during the night
  4. Hypersomnia (Daytime sleepiness): Refers to excessive daytime sleepiness and problems staying awake during the day. The National Sleep Foundation reports that up to 40 percent of people have some symptoms of hypersomnia from time to time. 
    • Some symptoms of hypersomnia include:
      • Lack of energy
      • Trouble thinking clearly
      • Falling asleep anytime or anywhere
  5. Insomnia: Insomnia or lack of sleep can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep for as long as you want. It can give rise to excessive daytime sleepiness.
    • Symptoms of insomnia include:
      • Trouble falling asleep
      • Feeling unrefreshed after waking
      • Waking up extremely early in the morning
  6. Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Refers to a strong sensation of needing to move one’s leg, disrupting total sleep time and sleep quality.
    • Some of the complications of RLS include:
      • Daytime sleepiness
      • Irritability
      • Trouble concentrating
  7. Narcolepsy: It is a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy have excessive and uncontrollable daytime sleepiness.
  8. Shift work disorder: Shift workers face sleep problems due to their inconsistent sleeping schedule called shift work disorder.
    • Shift work disorder can lead to:
      • Difficulty falling or staying asleep during scheduled bedtimes.
      • Excessive sleepiness while working.
      • Feeling irritable or “down” during waking hours.
    • As the shift schedules do not align with the natural light cycles, it can cause disturbance to the body’s natural biological clock.

What are the complications of sleep disorders in adults?

Getting healthy sleep is crucial for physical and mental health, improving productivity, and overall quality of life.

In adults, short-term consequences of sleep deprivation include:

  • Increased stress
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Mood disorders
  • Cognitive, memory, and performance deficits

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to:

Studies have reported that sleep deprivation can also lead to depression and anxiety. Creating sleep hygiene can reduce sleep disturbances and gradually improve your sleep quality.

How to treat sleep disorders

Some of the treatment options for sleep-related disorders include:

  • Cognitive behavior therapy or talk therapy can help you recognize, challenge and change stress-inducing thoughts that are keeping you up the night
  • Medications and/or supplements
  • Practicing sleep hygiene

Medications and supplements that may be beneficial in treating sleep disorders include:


Sleep Disorders: Foods That Help Sleep or Keep You Awake See Slideshow

How to prevent sleep disorders

To prevent sleep disorders, it is important to improve sleep quality.

During the daytime, follow these tips to get a peaceful night’s sleep:

  • Get enough exercise during the day
  • Get enough sunlight exposure during the day
  • Avoid smoking because nicotine disrupts sleep
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Have small meals throughout the day rather than heavy meals at once
  • Take power naps (15 to 20 minutes) during the day

Optimize the bedroom by:

  • Choosing a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Using excellent quality sheets and blankets.
  • Use a heavy curtain or an eye mask to prevent light from disturbing your sleep.
  • Cutting out noise by using earplugs or a white noise machine.
  • Trying calming scents to induce a calmer state of mind.

Avoid these things at least two hours before bedtime:

  • Large meals with high-fat content and alcohol
  • Feeling stressed
  • Caffeine intake
  • Excess fluid intake
  • Using electronic gadgets like laptops and smartphones

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Medically Reviewed on 5/23/2022
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