Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders, also known as somnipathy, are medical disorders that have to do with challenges in falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping excessively (hypersomnia), falling asleep at inappropriate times, or other abnormal sleep behaviors.

These can be very troubling to the normal mental, physical, and emotional functioning of a person. Therefore, when somnipathy occurs, it is very important to seek treatment to properly manage the disturbances in sleep that can lead to these conditions.

Types of Sleep Disorders

There are over one hundred known sleep disorders, all of which can be categorized within the following groups:

  • Insomnia – Struggles with falling asleep or remaining asleep
  • Excessive sleepiness in the daytime – Struggles with remaining awake
  • Sleep rhythm problems – Struggles with maintaining a regular schedule for sleep
  • Behaviors that are sleep-disruptive – Unusual behaviors that occur during sleep


Insomnia includes many different possible symptoms, including struggles with falling asleep, remaining asleep, waking in the early morning, or intermittent wakefulness. Incidences of insomnia can be chronic, short term, or transient. Factors commonly associated with insomnia include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Depression
  • Physical illness
  • Physical discomfort
  • Caffeine
  • A poor sleep environment, such as one that is bright or noisy
  • Drugs or alcohol
  • Use of certain types of medication
  • Smoking
  • Napping in the daytime

Excessive Sleepiness in the Daytime

This type of sleep disorder is known as hypersomnia. It includes disorders such as:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Idiopathic hypersomnia – when an individual is excessively sleepy but without an identifiable reason
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Periodic limb movement disorder

Sleep Rhythm Problems

This type of sleep disorder occurs when a regular cycle of sleeping and waking time is not maintained. This is often the case among shift workers on rotating schedules, travelers who move from one time zone to another, and night shift workers.

Some forms of sleep rhythm problem disorders include:

  • Jet lag syndrome
  • Irregular sleep-wake syndrome
  • Shift work sleep disorder
  • Paradoxical insomnia – where the person feels that they have slept for a different length of time than they actually have
  • Natural short sleeper – where the person sleeps fewer hours than typical, without suffering any ill effects

Behaviors that are Sleep-Disruptive

Parasomnia is the word used to describe abnormal behaviors that occur during sleep. These are more typical among children than adults, but they can be disruptive to sleep. They can include:

  • Sleep walking
  • Night terrors
  • REM sleep-behavior – where a person physically moves while dreaming, to the point that they may injure themselves or someone sleeping next to him or her.

Sleep Disorder Tests

Depending on the type of sleep disorder, there are different tests available. One of the most common forms of sleep study is a polysomnography.

Similarly different treatments are required depending on the sleep disorders that are experienced. That said, there are four main forms of sleep disorder treatments. They are:

  • Psychotherapeutic/behavioral treatment
  • Management/rehabilitation
  • Medication
  • Other sleep disorder treatments

Sleep Disorders Treatments

There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach that will cure any kind of sleep disorder. Treatments require the selection of a certain treatment depending on the medical history (both physical and mental), the diagnosis itself, the preference of the patient, and the expertise of the doctor making the recommendation. Frequently, multiple therapies, such as medication and psychotherapeutic/behavioral treatments are prescribed simultaneously in order to obtain the greatest possible number of benefits.

It is also important for doctors to identify whether the sleep disorders are symptomatic of another medical condition. For example, if sleep is being interrupted as a result of circadian rhythm disorders, obstructive apnea, or bruxism, special equipment may be necessary in order to treat those conditions, which will then allow the insomnia to subside. Though medication can provide rapid symptomatic relief, they will not cure the condition itself, which will need to be treated separately.

If you feel that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, it is important to speak with your doctor regarding the various forms of treatment that are available to you. This is not only because proper sleep is exceptionally important to being able to remain alert and function properly throughout the day, but as sleep disorders can be indicative of other health conditions, a visit to the doctor can lead to an earlier diagnosis which can mean that treatments will be much more effective.

Moreover, your doctor will help you to be able to take the appropriate actions to minimize the chances of sleep disorders in the future. These can include instructions such as the following:

  • Establishing a calm, dark, comfortable, and quiet sleep environment with minimal disturbances
  • Exercising daily
  • Eating a healthy diet, and not eating or drinking anything except water within a few hours of going to bed
  • Setting a set sleep schedule, with a regular bedtime routine.

1 comment to Sleep Disorders

  • sarah weissman

    I wanted to also add Goodnighties fabric in sleepwear to help with regulating a sleep schedule. really great and it helped me greatly (and continues to help;)

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