Sleep disorders are problems with the quality, timing, and/or amount of sleep that affect an individual’s ability to function during the daytime. Getting enough quality sleep is a basic human need that directly affects both mental and physical health. The average person undergoes 3-5 sleep cycles per night. These sleep cycles are made up of two types of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep, which includes the deepest level of sleep. Sleep disorders can occur independently or along with other mental health conditions. Chronic sleep problems are especially common in individuals who have been diagnosed with mental health problems such as ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression.
There are a variety of sleep disorders that can affect your sleep cycle, including:
- Sleep Apnea
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
- Hypersomnolence disorder
- Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Arousal Disorder
- Nightmare Disorder
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder
- Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders
Did You Know?
Many people are not getting enough sleep. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association notes that 30% of adults sleep less than 6 hours a night, and only 30% of teenagers get the recommended 8 hours of sleep.
Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can occur several times per hour and last for over 10 seconds, causing the sleeper to move out of a deep sleep and usually wake up. There are different types of sleep apnea, each with their own causes and symptoms. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment to prevent long-term sleep apnea risks.
Insomnia refers to trouble falling or staying asleep. It can affect someone for a short time, such as a few nights or weeks. In other cases, the sleep disorder is chronic and can last for months or years.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) refers to an overwhelming urge to move the legs, usually associated with unpleasant sensations. The urge to move the legs is worse at rest and at night and relieved by movement. People with RLS use words such as creeping, crawling, tingling, or burning to describe these feelings. Moving the legs eases the feelings, but only for a while. The unpleasant feelings may also occur in the arms.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
A sleep disorder characterized by involuntary movements of the legs while asleep. People who suffer from PLMS can be unaware of their limb movements, as they do not always wake from them. The individual can experiences consequences like loss of sleep, irritability or mood changes.
a clinical syndrome of daytime sleepiness with cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. It is one of the most common causes of disabling daytime sleepiness after obstructive sleep apnea. This uncontrollable sleepiness is more than just being a little tired, it feels as though you are tired all the time and not only is it difficult to stay awake, when you do sleep it is not a deep, satisfying experience
Excessive sleepiness and it is characterized by an individual having difficulty staying awake throughout the day. People with hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time and in any condition, even while driving or at work. The primary symptoms of hypersomnia are prolonged nighttime sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, with the desire to take several long naps during the day. This condition is more prevalent in men than in women, affecting approximately 5% of the population.
Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Arousal Disorder
Disorders of arousal from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are parasomnias that include confusional arousals, sleepwalking, sleep terrors, and their variants. They are classified as distinct entities, but in reality, they represent a spectrum of sleep-related behaviors that occur as a result of incomplete transition out of deep NREM sleep.
Nightmares are considered a sleeping disorder when they occur frequently enough that they disrupt sleep on a regular basis, and may cause the subject further fear of sleeping, which can lead to sleep deprivation and the formation of other sleeping disorders or medical or psychological conditions.
Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia characterized by dream-enactment behaviors that emerge during a loss of REM sleep atonia. RBD dream enactment ranges in severity from benign hand gestures to violent thrashing, punching, and kicking. Patients typically present to medical attention with a concern related to injurious or potentially injurious actions to themselves and/or their bed partner.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders:
The intrinsic circadian timekeeping system influences consolidation of sleep and wake episodes and is critical for sleep health as well as optimal functioning of other organ systems.
Desynchrony between the internal circadian timing system and desired sleep-wake times can result in one of six circadian sleep-wake rhythm disorders and is also an important factor to consider for most of the other sleep disorders
Frequently Asked Questions:
Symptoms of a sleep disorder can include:
- Unable to fall asleep when desired
- Trouble sleeping through the night with frequent awakenings
- Extreme sleepiness during the day
- Abnormal movements or behaviors during sleep (e.g., walking, talking)
- Unpleasant feelings after waking up in the morning, such as headache, mood changes, fatigue, lightheadedness, or difficulty concentrating
While the above symptoms are some general symptoms of a sleep disorder, your exact symptoms may vary depending on the type of sleep disorder. A psychiatrist can accurately diagnose sleep disorders and prescribe the necessary treatment, so if you or a loved one are showing symptoms, schedule a consultation with our team at Florida Family Psychiatry today.
Sleep disorders are diagnosed after a physical exam, discussion of your medical history, a review of symptoms, and ruling out other conditions that cause similar physical symptoms. You will likely be asked to fill out a self-assessment and/or answer specific questions so that your provider can give you an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, you may also need to keep a sleep diary and/or undergo a sleep study.
In most cases, a combination of talk therapy and medication is recommended. Talk therapy can help address anxieties and thought patterns that could be contributing to your sleeping problems, while medication is generally used to promote feelings of relaxation in order to help you fall and stay asleep. In the case that your sleeping disorder is caused by another mental health condition, treatment will also include treating the primary cause.
- Patient Guide: Testing for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Patient Guide: Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults with positive airway pressure (PAP)
- Patient Guide: Using medications to treat chronic insomnia in adults
- Patient Guide: Using actigraphy to evaluate sleep and sleep-related body clock disorders (also known as circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders)
Some of the contents of this Florida Family Psychiatry (FFP) webpage were sourced from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Sleep Association, and their affiliates. The content on this page should be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. FFP has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.
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