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Sleep Disorders Explained

Sleep Disorders Explained

While there are well over one hundred types of sleep disorders that individuals can suffer from, each separate disorder can be grouped into one of four specific categories: insomnia, parasomnia, hypersomnia and irregular sleeping patterns.

For some people, the problem they face revolves around an inability to fall asleep, while others may merely struggle to stay asleep or even find that they spend too much of their life out for the count. For those with such disorders, learning more about the symptoms, causes and potential treatments of each category could help them to better understand how to remedy the issues they face on a nightly basis.

Each different type of disorder is likely to lead to irritability, impaired cognitive functions and poor memory, as well as leaving one vulnerable to all manner of different health issues. Dealing with disorders should therefore be a top priority for anyone who struggles to get their full eight hours per night. From trading in your old bed to making sure you are relaxed and stress-free before the lights go out, there are many ways to combat these midnight maladies.


Many people group all sleep disorders under the umbrella of insomnia, yet it only covers a specific range of problems. Those who have trouble falling or staying asleep are classed as insomniacs, whether the issues are episodic, short term or chronic.

There can be many different causes of insomnia. These include having a bedroom environment that is too light or too noisy, consuming excessive amounts of stimulants (especially later on in the day), having high levels of stress or anxiety, suffering from depression, and spending the night feeling uncomfortable or in pain.

Many people will go through phases of insomnia at some point, whether due to stress or a specific medical condition. However, those that do not get between seven and eight hours of quality rest on a regular basis may well be putting their health at risk, and should do all they can to remedy the issue.

Speaking to your doctor or undergoing a night time sleep study may help you to find the root of the issue, yet it may be just as effective to look at changing how and when you rest. By unwinding properly before you turn the lights out, blocking out as much light as possible and putting ear plugs in you may well find that you can deal with the problem effectively on your own.


Insomnia is not the only disorder that can have a serious debilitating effect on one’s quality of life. Hypersomnia is characterised by excessive sleepiness or drowsiness throughout the day that cannot be attributed to an obvious lack of rest. While it may be similar to apathy and ennui, it is likely to have very specific causes. Hypersomnia can also be attributed to diabetes, the use of certain medicines, an inability for the mind to switch off even when entering different stages of sleep, an underactive thyroid and changes in sodium levels within the blood.  The condition can also be exacerbated by depression and anxiety.

If you believe you are getting plenty of shut-eye at night but still feel exhausted by day, speak with your doctor to see if underlying medical problems may be behind your condition.


Many people affected by parasomnias struggle to feel rested when they wake. Parasomnia covers the group of disorders that are characterised by abnormal events affecting the course of ordinary sleep, whether consciously remembered in the morning or not. These include the likes of sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep paralysis, wetting the bed, and REM sleep behaviour disorder (in which individuals can become aggressive or violent when dreaming). Some of these disorders cause few issues for the sufferer, while others can be harmful to both those with the condition and those sharing a bed with them.

Many of these issues will resolve themselves over time, although stress can make the onset of certain parasomnias more likely. If such disorders are having a detrimental effect on one’s daily life or if the condition could leave the sufferer or those around them in danger, it is vital to get medical advice on how best to treat the issue.

Irregular Sleeping Patterns

Those who do not go to bed at approximately the same time each night may well end up causing no end of disruption to their circadian rhythms.

Irregular work patterns, jet lag and a hectic social calendar can all cause this form of disorder, and many sufferers find that being stricter with their night time schedule is all it takes for them to feel more refreshed and energetic on a daily basis. Changing diet may also help, as might certain forms of light therapy.

When patterns do need to be altered, instead of making a major change, try to adapt slowly, changing your schedule by between 15 minutes and half an hour each night until the correct pattern is in place.

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