Sleep disorders are conditions that disrupt normal sleeping patterns. They can range in type and severity and cause daytime drowsiness and general fatigue. Experts cite the following conditions as the most common sleep disorders:
Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or both, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Insomnia can be short-term (acute) or ongoing (chronic). Acute insomnia is typically brought on by stress. Chronic insomnia can be the side effect of a coexisting condition or circumstance, or can be its own primary disorder. The NHLBI reports that insomnia causes daytime drowsiness and can lead to anxiety and issues with memory and focusing. Treatments often include making lifestyle changes, like sleeping without the TV on or avoiding caffeine. If this is ineffective, medications or therapy can be successful.
Sleep apnea is both a neurological and sleep disorder that causes momentary pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. As a result, people with sleep apnea typically snore and suffer from poor sleep quality. The condition occurs most in overweight people and can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and more.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) triggers a creeping, crawling sensation in the legs accompanied by an overwhelming urge to move the legs. It has a neurological foundation and affects approximately 5 to 10 percent of adults in the United States. For unknown reasons, RLS tends to flare up at night, making it difficult to get high-quality sleep.
Narcolepsy is a common sleep disorder that causes extreme daytime drowsiness. It’s also associated with muscle weakness in some people. For those who suffer from narcolepsy, sleep comes in sudden bursts that typically last a few seconds to several minutes. According to the NHLBI, narcoleptic people suddenly and unwillingly fall asleep, even when in the middle of activities like talking or eating. The condition is associated with hallucinations, poor sleep quality and obesity. The American Sleep Association estimates that roughly 125,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. have narcolepsy.