Common Sleep Disorders

Common Sleep Disorders

The three pillars of health are nutrition, exercise, and sleep. You eat a balanced diet. You do regular exercise. But do you get the right sleep? Getting good sleep is as vital to living as eating, drinking, and exercising, that’s why symptoms of sleep disorders should not be taken lightly. 

A sleep disorder is anything that gets in the way of a regular full night’s sleep. Types of sleep disorders include sleep breathing disorders (such as snoring and sleep apnea), insomnias, circadian rhythm (sleep-wake) disorders, abnormal sleep behavior disorders, sleep movement disorders, and more. Most of these conditions cannot be diagnosed accurately by a mere questionnaire or sleep diary, that’s why a sleep test is necessary.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring happens to 60% of men and 30% of women over the age of 40. It’s easy to believe that snoring is harmless, and many do not even realize they snore unless complained about by an irritated bed partner. In many cases, snoring can be nothing more than a nuisance, but there could be some serious health risks involved with regular snoring.

If your snoring is out of control, you may have sleep apnea—a sleep disorder that occurs when breathing is interrupted for a few seconds or minutes during sleep. The interrupted breathing can happen up to hundreds of times each night, which affects the oxygen supply of the brain and body. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a growing number of health problems, ranging from a simple headache and high blood pressure to even stroke and heart attacks.

When your throat muscle and tongue fall back and block the airflow, you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. When the airway is blocked, your brain signals the body to kick back into gear to resume breathing with loud gasps, snorts, or body jerks that can wake you up—therefore interrupting the much needed rest for your mind and body. As a result, people suffering from this condition usually feel tired and sleepy the next day, have poor performance at school or work due to fatigue, and have a higher risk of vehicular accidents when driving.

If you are experiencing heavy snoring and frequent sleep disruption, consult a sleep specialist for a sleep test.


How much sleep is enough? The answer varies from person to person, but most adults need 7 to 8 hours a night.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or cause you to wake up prematurely and not to be able to sleep again. This usually results in tiredness, energy drain, harsh mood, underwhelming physical/mental performance, and ultimately, poor health and quality of life.

At some point, many adults experience short-term insomnia that can last for days or weeks. It’s usually the result of stress or a traumatic event, but some people experience prolonged insomnia that can last for a month or more. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it can be associated with other medical conditions or medications.

To avoid sleepless nights, simple adjustments in your daily habits can often help. For many people, addressing issues such as stress, medical conditions, or medications can help restore restful sleep. For more extreme cases, cognitive behavioral therapy, medications (such as melatonin, an over-the-counter supplement), or both can help improve relaxation and sleep.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake. It’s recommended as the first line of treatment, which can be equally or more effective than sleep medications.

Many people try to cope with insomnia on their own, but seeking professional advice for lifestyle adjustments and sleeping aids can put your sleeplessness to rest.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

All living organisms, down to algae and bacteria, have circadian rhythm. Think of it as an internal body clock that keeps our biological processes in sync with rhythm of day and night, keeping our systems calibrated to the sunrise-sunset cycles. So when our body clock becomes desynchronized, we experience insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, or both.

Major life necessities, like eating, sleeping and mating, even testosterone secretion and bowel movement suppression, are controlled by this daily cycle.

In the morning, our circadian rhythm sends signal to the brain to raise temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and to delay the release of hormones like melatonin that puts us to sleep. As the body temperature rises throughout the morning, our memory, alertness, and concentration sharpens, that’s why we tend to be at our cognitive best in the late morning. This is generally followed by an afternoon low, which suggests that napping is a natural part of the daily rhythm. That afternoon low is followed by another period of alertness. But in the evening as the sun disappears the circadian rhythm picks up those signals of changing light from your eyes. Your organs shift into low gear. Body’s temperature cools, and sleep induced hormones like melatonin are activated.