Common Sleep Disorders and What to Do About Them

Common Sleep Disorders and What to Do About Them

Your late-night nods may be affected by one or more of these prevailing sleep disorders. Here's how to treat them.

Sleep is one of the easiest things to do in the world, but not if you suffer from a sleep disorder. In the US, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a Sleep Index that revealed 35% of adults had poor or fair sleep, and 25% said that they did not wake up re-energized even once during the past 7 days. Psychology Today dubbed it as the “Next Global Health Crisis,” tagging it along with HIV, malnutrition and even chronic diseases. If you're struggling to get some shut-eye, the good news is that you're not alone. The bad, is that you need to treat it, so you can get back to a healthier, rested state.

In 2012, the University of Warwick Medical School started a research that encompassed several countries in Asia and Africa. Led by Saverio Stranges, MD, PhD, the team aimed to measure the prevalence of sleep problems, especially to low-income settings. Community-wide samples are taken from developing countries, and the results are surprising.

  • 17% of the respondents suffer with sleep disorders
  • Sleep disorders are more common among older adults and women
  • People who report a low quality of life suffer from it
  • Sleep problems can be traced to anxiety and depression

But getting less of a good night sleep isn't just caused by one problem. If you have been tossing and turning in your bed for hours without a shut-eye, you might be suffering from any of these sleep disorders.


The most common sleep disorder of them all, insomnia is often caused by high levels of stress which may worsen to anxiety or depression. People with substance or alcohol abuse also tend to suffer from it. When one has insomnia, falling asleep or maintaining a nap can be a struggle for long periods of time – experts say at least three months straight. Suffering from insomnia? Get medical prescription from a doctor or schedule a sleep therapy to treat this chronic disorder.

Sleep apnea

Experts recognize this disorder as a clogging in the throat, forcing one to snore loudly or make choking sounds as they struggle to breathe. If you have sleep apnea, you may suffer from aftereffects, such as headaches, daytime fatigue, and falling asleep while seated for a long time. To treat this disorder, one must undergo a therapy called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), wherein a machine provides a steady stream of air to the sleeper while preventing the blockage of the throat.


200,000 adults are diagnosed with this disorder annually. Here, one falls asleep in the middle of the day, with or without stimulation. According to experts, sufferers of Narcolepsy can't differentiate the feeling between being wide awake and asleep. The cause? Abnormalities in the brain where REM sleep occurs. This disorder can be also associated with a cataplexy, a similar condition that causes one to faint due to emotional reactions. Doctors often use medication to treat this issue.

Sleep movement

Restless leg, periodic limb jolts and sleep leg cramps are among the concerns one suffers in this condition. Experts have not been able to point out what causes these conditions, but some suggest it is hereditary. During sleep, one suffers from the overwhelming urge to move their limbs and legs. Some even kick hundreds of times each night. How to treat it? Diet change is a must. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake while adding regular exercise to your daily routine.


Found yourself someplace else when the last thing you remembered was falling asleep? You might be sleepwalking. People with lack of sleep, fever or are undergoing medication may suffer from it. In order to overcome this bout, try to reduce liquid intake before bedtime. Make sure you have a quiet, less-stressful sleeping environment. Taking your naps in the right schedule will also help.

Teeth grinding

If you feel headaches or a painful jaw in the morning, you must have been grinding your teeth during sleep. People who are under great stress usually suffer from this disorder. However, there are many of you; 45 million people in the US struggles with teeth grinding. In order to overcome this, your dentist may recommend getting fitted with a mouth guard to keep your molars in place while you slumber.

Sleep terrors

Ever had a bad dream that led you to a blood-curdling scream in the middle of the night? It might be a sleep terror. People suffering from it can be hard to wake up, and when they do, end up feeling confused. In some cases, confronting a sufferer of this disorder can be harmful. What causes it? Primarily, sleep terror is attributed to illness, medication, or lack of sleep. To treat this condition, ask prescription from a doctor. It also helps to improve the patient’s sleep environment, such as tweaking the lights and the temperature of the room.

Sleeping can be an exertion for some, and it helps to know their battles as they go to bed. The first step to overcoming these disorders is understanding them. Once you do, get treated, and sure enough, your best, peaceful sleep is at hand.

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