Sleep Disorders

Anything that disrupts our normal sleep affects our sleep-wake cycle. This can lead to an imbalance in sleep Homeostasis and Circadian Cycles. For many people, poor sleep constitutes a serious medical problem.

Doctors describe and treat nearly one hundred different sleep disorders. Each year more than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders and another 30 million people experience occasional sleep problems. These numbers are growing, and currently account for an estimated $16 billion in annual medical costs alone, plus lost productivity probably double that amount.

The most common sleep disorders include:


Nearly 30 percent of all adults have some form of Insomnia. Nearly 10 percent of adults have a serious or chronic problem. Insomnia is having difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep. Or, waking up feeling unrefreshed, daytime fatigue, impaired mood and judgement, poor performance, increased accidents at home or on the job and while driving. It may also be associated with some underlying health conditions such as depression, cancer, asthma, arthritis or the result of medications, alcohol, drugs and caffeine. Insomnia can also be caused by many things like relationship issues, legal problems, a job change or loss, financial problems or noise factors. 

Sleep Apnea 

Nearly 18 million Americans are affected by Sleep Apnea, a disorder of interrupted breathing during sleep. Muscles relax during sleep, and with some people, this change allows the windpipe to collapse during sleep. This condition is usually associated with loud snoring. However, not everyone who snores loudly has Sleep Apnea. The problem occurs when a person is inhaling, which creates a suction that collapses the windpipe. When a person’s blood-oxygen level falls, the brain responds by waking the person enough to open the windpipe. The person may snort or gasp then resume snoring. Sleep Apnea deprives the person of oxygen. This increases the chance of stroke, heart attacks and sudden death. People suffering with this disorder should have a sleep test performed, and should never take sedatives or sleeping pills, which can prevent wakening enough to breathe.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 

Possibly related, is the sudden, unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant. SIDS rarely occurs after the first month but at risk babies should be watched carefully during the first 6 months.


Nearly a quarter of a million Americans are affected by Narcolepsy. People with Narcolepsy have frequent “sleep attacks” at various times during the day. Even if they have a normal amount of night-time sleep. These attacks begin during adolescence, and can last from only a few seconds to more than thirty minutes. People with this disorder experience loss of muscle control, hallucinations and temporary paralysis when they awaken. The symptoms seem to be features of REM sleep. Recent research has made a break-through and may bring a cure for this disorder.


This is a complex group of disorders that occur when the transition from one sleep state to the next doesn’t progress in an orderly fashion. Parasomnias include sleepwalking, night terrors and bedwetting.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder 

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder is a night terror, usually in adults, characterized by vigorous or violent behaviors that occur late at night, potentially causing the person to injure themselves or their bed partners. This disorder usually affects elderly individuals often accompanied by unpleasant dreams with vocal sounds and sudden, often violent arm and leg movements.

Nightmares and Night Terrors 

Stage 4 sleep is usually the realm of night terrors. These episodes are quite different from ordinary nightmares. A nightmare can simply be a bad dream that takes place during REM sleep. Frequent nightmares, one or more per week, are associated with higher levels of psychological distress.

During night terrors, a person suffers total panic attack which may be accompanied by hallucinations and frightening images lasting 20 minutes or longer. A person awakens drenched in sweat but only vaguely remembers the terror. 2 percent of adults suffer night terrors, but it is most common with children.

Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (SRED) 

This rare disorder is one in which a person eats food during the night while they appear to be asleep, usually occurring in women 35 or older with a definite absence of daytime over-eating.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) 

This sleep disorder occurs in nearly 12 million Americans. It includes uncomfortable sensations in the legs, including creeping , tingling, cramping, burning and pain that worsens when laying down. People suffering from RLS find it difficult to relax or fall asleep because of the strong urge to walk to relieve the sensations in their legs. Recent studies suggest RLS may be caused by a deficiency of Dopamine production in the brain. 

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)

A similar disorder to RLS known as Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) causes repetitive jerking movements of both arms and legs. These movements occur about every 20 to 40 seconds and make sleeping difficult.

These are just a few sleep disorders undergoing research to find better therapies and cures.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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