What Are the Most Common Sleep Disorders?

Richmond Gbenga · Jul 22 2020

Sleep disorders come in different shapes and sizes, but the most common types include; insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, circadian disorders, parasomnias, and sleep paralysis.

What are sleep disorders?  

Sleep disorders are health conditions that prevent a person from getting restful sleep, leading to all kinds of sleep issues such as daytime sleepiness and restlessness.

According to the American Sleep Association [AMA], sleep disorders affect as much as 50 - 70 million U.S adults...with insomnia leading the pack.

When you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, the consequences of that go beyond a groggy morning or day. One AMA report shows that drowsy driving alone is the cause of as many as 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries per year on America’s roads.

While there are as many as 80 different types of sleep issues in the U.S and around the globe, let’s deep-dive into the 5 most common sleep disorders...shall we?

#1: Insomnia

Insomnia is arguably the most common sleep disorder known to humans. People dealing with insomnia have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for a long period of time.

Common symptoms of insomnia include: 

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up a couple of times at night and finding it difficult getting back to sleep
  • Experiencing daytime sleep issues such as fatigue, sleepiness, or difficulty concentrating at work

Insomnia can be short-term [acute] or long-term [chronic]. Insomnia is considered chronic when a person suffers from a lack of sleep for 3 nights -- for a month or longer.

Roughly 50% of adults experience insomnia at one point or the other in their lives, and 1 out of 10 suffer from chronic insomnia. 

#2: Sleep apnea 

Sleep apnea occurs when a person has difficulty breathing while sleeping. Your airway gets blocked repeatedly, causing you to snore. 

As your body and brain gets deprived of the oxygen they need, the brain sends a signal to your body to wake up and breathe.

Sleep apnea can occur once or twice at night -- or as frequent as 100X a night in severe cases.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Waking up with a dry or sore throat at night
  • Waking up with a headache

#3: Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome [RLS] occurs when you feel an uncontrollable urge to move your legs often. It usually happens when you’re in a state of rest such as when you’re lying down in bed or have been sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time.

RLS occurs more in the evening, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. 

People dealing with restless legs syndrome want to walk around and move their legs to help relieve the uncomfortable sensation in their legs -- and there’s no way to do that and fall asleep at the same time, right? Exactly.

Common symptoms of restless legs syndrome include:

  • Strong urge to move your legs
  • An ache in the legs
  • Irritability

#4: Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes you to fall asleep suddenly, no matter where you are...and without warning.

People with narcolepsy find that they deal with daytime sleepiness a lot and often fall asleep during the day with little or no control over it. Imagine falling asleep while eating for instance. Weird, right? 

In a nutshell, people dealing with narcolepsy have no control over their sleep-wake cycle...and common symptoms include:

  • Falling asleep without warning
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Sleep paralysis

#5: REM sleep behavior disorder

People with REM sleep behavior disorder act out their dreams in their sleep.

Usually, when you fall asleep, there’s a temporary muscle paralysis that occurs, which reduces body movements to the barest minimum. 

REM sleep behavior disorder occurs when the mechanism in the brain that prevents motor movement while sleeping malfunctions, leading to sudden and intense movements during sleep.

Common symptoms include:

  • Moving your limbs in your sleep
  • Screaming while you sleep
  • Hitting or punching in your sleep

So, that’s it guys -- but before you go…

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