Common Sleep Disorders

While there are more than 100 different types of sleep disorders, the following are among those most common:

  • Circadian rhythm disorders — Our circadian rhythm is our body's natural time clock. Circadian rhythm is influenced by body temperature, sunlight and other time cues. Occasionally, certain circumstances can cause your circadian rhythm to go out of sync. When this occurs, you may have difficulty falling asleep and waking at your regular times. Two circadian rhythm problems are jet lag and shift work disorder.
  • Narcolepsy — Those with narcolepsy experience excessive drowsiness during daytime hours and can have attacks of irresistible sleep at unexpected times. This includes falling asleep during normal activities, such as driving or eating.
  • Parasomnias — This is a general term to describe a wide variety of sleep disorders, including sleepwalking, sleep terrors, sleep eating disorders, head-banging and bedwetting. Very occasional sleepwalking, sleep terrors or other occurrences of these disorders may not be cause for concern. But if episodes are frequent, become dangerous, involve inappropriate behavior or occur in adulthood or with new medication, consult a doctor.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements (PLM) — These conditions are characterized by involuntary leg or arm movements before and during sleep. They can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to daytime sleepiness.
  • Sleep apnea — Sleep apnea is breathing that stops repeatedly while you’re asleep. Many people with sleep apnea don’t realize they have the condition. There are two main types, central apnea and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

    Central apnea happens when the sleeping brain fails to send commands to the breathing muscles, and is fairly uncommon. This is usually accompanied by snoring. OSA occurs when obstruction of the throat repeatedly interrupts breathing. It’s characterized by loud snoring and periods of prolonged silence. It can cause morning headaches, forgetfulness, occasionally waking up choking or gasping, mood changes and sleepiness during the day. It’s considered very serious and potentially life-threatening. It can even lead to stroke or heart failure.

Sleep disorders have a wide variety of causes, ranging from anxiety and mood disorders to diabetes. The sleep experts at Centura Health can help evaluate and pinpoint the causes of your sleep disorder so that we can better address them together.