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Sleep disorders – symptoms, types, causes and other risk factors

There are many different sleep disorders. They are a group of conditions which are affecting the ability of someone to sleep on a regular basis. Whether they are caused by too much stress or a health problem, they are becoming increasingly common in the United States of America. It has been reported that 75% of Americans that are between 20 and 59 have sleeping difficulties very often [1]. Most people occasionally experience sleep disorders due to hectic schedules, stress and other outside influences. But when these problems are beginning to happen on a regular basis and interfere with the daily life, then they can indicate a sleeping disorder. Depending on the type of sleep disorder which people have, they can have a difficult time falling asleep and they can feel extremely tired throughout the day. The lack of their sleep can have a negative impact on concentration, mood, energy and overall health. There are some cases when sleep disorders can be a symptom of mental health condition or a medical health condition [2]. These sleep disorders can go away when the treatment for the underlying cause is obtained. When sleep disorders are not caused by another condition, then the treatment involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments. It is very important to get diagnose and right treatment as soon as possible if you suspect that you have sleep disorder. If you left it untreated, then it can lead to further health consequences. Also they can impair your ability to perform daily activities, cause strain in relationships and affect your performance at work.

Symptoms of sleep disorders

The symptoms of sleep disorders can be different which depends on the severity and type of sleeping disorders. Also they can vary when sleep disorders are a result of another condition. Here are the general symptoms of sleep disorders:

  • Depression
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Strong urge to take naps during the day
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep

Sleep disorders - symptoms, types, causes and other risk factors

Causes of sleep disorders

There are many disorders, diseases and conditions which can cause sleep disturbances. There are many cases when sleep disorders are a result of some underlying health problem. Here are some causes for sleep disorders:

Stress and anxiety: These factors in many cases have a negative impact on sleep quality. It can be difficult for you to stay asleep or fall asleep. Sleepwalking, sleep talking and nightmares can also disrupt your sleep. [3]

Chronic pain: If you have constant pain, then it can be difficult for you to fall asleep. They can wake you up after you have fall asleep. Here are some of the most common causes for chronic pain [4]:

  • Continuous lower back pain
  • Persistent headaches
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Arthritis

There are some cases when the chronic pain may even be exacerbated by sleep disorders. Some doctors believe that the development of fibromyalgia can be linked to sleeping problems.

Nocturia: This is a frequent urination which can disrupt your sleep because it can cause you to wake up during the night. Diseases of the urinary tract and hormonal imbalances can lead to the development of nocturia. If the frequent urination is accompanied by pain or bleeding, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible. [5]

Allergies and respiratory problems: Upper respiratory infections, colds and allergies can make it challenging to breathe at night. Also the inability to breathe through your nose can lead to sleeping difficulties [6].

Types of sleep disorders: There are many different types of sleep disorders:

Insomnia: This is an inability to remain asleep or to fall asleep.

Sleep apnea: It is characterized by pauses in breathing during the sleep. It is a serious medical condition which is causing the body to take in less oxygen. Also it can wake up during the night.

Narcolepsy: It is characterized by sleep attacks which happen during the day.

Restless leg syndrome: RLS is an overwhelming need to move legs. This urge in some cases is accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs.

Parasomnias: They are a class of sleep disorders which are causing abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep.


[1] Pomona Valley Health Centers. What are the best ways to treat sleep disorders? Retrieved from

[2] Harvard Mental Health Letter. Sleep and mental health. Harvard Health Publishing. 2009. Retrieved from

[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Sleep disorders. Retrieved from

[4] Finan PH, Goodin BR, Smith MT. The association of sleep and pain: An update and a path forward. Journal of Pain. 2013;14(12):1539–52.

[5] Ancoli-Israel S, Bliwise DL, Norgaard JP. The effect of nocturia on sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2011;15(2):91–7.

[6] Leger D, Bonnefoy B, Pigearias B, et al. Poor sleep is highly associated with house dust mite allergic rhinitis in adults and children. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2017.

Pardhan Singh
Pardhan Singh
A seasoned natural therapist with degree in Ayurvedic Medicine (BAMS) successful in treating various diseases through Ayurvedic treatments. You can contact Pradhan at [email protected]


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