While there are only about eight common sleep disorders, there are more than 80 sleep disorders in all. They are broken up into categories. Some sleep disorders are less common than others. Some of them are minor, and some can have major consequences if they are not dealt with properly and treated in some way.
Sleep disorders can affect a person’s ability to sleep or to get a good night’s sleep. A lack of sleep can cause fatigue, stress, anger issues, and other disorders. Those are just the minor effects of a lack of sleep. It can also cause mental disorders and major illnesses.
About Sleep Medicine
Doctors that specialize in the field of sleep are an important part of both science and medicine. These doctors work to better understand sleep disorders, including their symptoms and causes and do what they can to find treatments.
Currently, sleep disorders are divided into six categories. The categories are:
- sleep-associated breathing disorders
- central disorders of hypersomnolence
- circadian rhythm disorders
- sleep-related movement disorders
Under each of these categories, you’ll find a plethora of other specific disorders. Here is an overview of the many different sleep disorders that can affect people.
Insomnia is a difficulty to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s something that happens repeatedly. It affects how long you are able to sleep. That lack of sleep can affect your judgment and ability to work during the daytime.
The body uses sleep as a time to heal. So anything that affects sleep can also weaken the immune system.
Insomnia has four major categories that it can be broken down into. These categories include chronic, isolated and normal variant, short-term, and “other.”
Sleep-associated Breathing Disorders
Some people have breathing problems when they try to sleep. These apneas, as they are generally referred to, can be caused by many things. They happen because of an obstructed airway, sometimes from obesity.
Obstructive sleep apnea can affect both adults and children. It is probably the most common type of apnea. It, like the other apnea disorders, is diagnosed separately (in this case for adults or pediatric).
Central sleep apnea syndrome can be diagnosed with Cheyne-Stokes breathing, it can be caused by a medical disorder, by high altitude sickness, due to a medication the patient is on, and a number of other diagnoses. This type of sleep apnea can also affect both adults and children.
Sleep-related hypoventilation can come on with obesity and congenital heart issues. It can also be caused by medications and other medical disorders.
Among the many minor classifications of this sleep disorder, snoring can also be a cause of sleep apnea and not just an effect of it.
Central Disorders of Hypersomnolence
People that suffer from sleep disorders that cause daytime sleepiness fall into this category. These are sleep problems that aren’t caused by disturbed sleep.
Narcolepsy types I and II both fit into this category of sleep disorder. Hypersomnia is another disorder under this classification. People with this illness are tired throughout the day, they find it hard to actually feel awake, and they often sleep more than ten hours at a time.
Circadian Rhythm Disorders
The circadian rhythm is your internal clock. When something disrupts it, it can make it difficult to get enough sleep. That lack of sleep can cause sleepiness during the daytime, and even insomnia.
Among the many disorders that fall under the umbrella of sleep-wake disorders, jet lag may be one of the most known. Jet lag happens when crossing time zones on a flight.
Parasomnia is caused by a glitch in the nervous system. These disorders can often be major problems for the people that suffer from them. Sleepwalking can lead to other accidents, like falls.
Some of the most commonly known parasomnias include sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep eating, sleep paralysis, talking in your sleep, and hallucinations related to sleep.
Sleep-related Movement Disorders
If you have repetitive movements that happen when you’re sleeping, or that keep you from getting to sleep, they fall into this category. These disorders can also affect the sleep of significant others that share the bed with the sufferer.
Restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement, and leg cramps are some of the most common disorders in this category. Sleep-related movement disorders can be caused by medications and other medical disorders, and because of other reasons.
If you think you might have one of these sleep disorders, start by keeping track of your signs and symptoms. Then, talk to your doctor about the problems that you are having. Your doctor may suggest you see a sleep specialist for further testing.