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Definition Return to top
Sleep disorders involve any difficulties related to sleeping, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.
Causes Return to top
More than 100 different disorders of sleeping and waking have been identified. They can be grouped in four main categories:
PROBLEMS WITH FALLING AND STAYING ASLEEP
Insomnia includes any combination of difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep, intermittent wakefulness and early-morning awakening. Episodes may come and go (be transient), last as long as 2 to 3 weeks (be short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).
Common factors associated with insomnia include:
PROBLEMS WITH STAYING AWAKE
Disorders of excessive sleepiness are called hypersomnias. These include:
PROBLEMS STICKING TO A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE
Problems may also occur when you do not maintain a consistent sleep and wake schedule. This occurs when traveling between times zones and with shift workers on rotating schedules, particularly nighttime workers.
Sleep disruption disorders include:
Abnormal behaviors during sleep are called parasomnias and are fairly common in children. They include:
Symptoms Return to top
The symptoms vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Tests vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder. A sleep study (polysomnography) may be done.
Treatment Return to top
Treatments vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome varies with the type of disorder. Some disorders may clear up on their own.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if lack of sleep or too much sleep is interfering with daily living.
Also call if non-breathing spells are observed during sleep.
Prevention Return to top
Maintaining regular sleep habits and a quiet sleep environment may prevent some sleep disorders.Update Date: 9/11/2008 Updated by: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ . Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.