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Sleep disorders - overview

Insomnia; Narcolepsy; Hypersomina; Daytime sleepiness; Sleep rhythm; Sleep disruptive behaviors; Jet lag

Sleep disorders are problems with sleeping. These include trouble falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, too much sleep, and abnormal behaviors during sleep.

 
Causes

There are more than 100 different sleeping and waking disorders. They can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Problems falling and staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Problems staying awake (excessive daytime sleepiness)
  • Problems sticking to a regular sleep schedule (sleep rhythm problem)
  • Unusual behaviors during sleep (sleep-disruptive behaviors)

PROBLEMS FALLING AND STAYING ASLEEP

Insomnia includes trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Episodes may come and go, last up to 3 weeks (be short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).

PROBLEMS STAYING AWAKE

Hypersomnia is a condition in which people have excessive daytime sleepiness. This means they feel tired during the day. Hypersomnia can also include situations in which a person needs to sleep a lot. This may be due to other medical conditions, but can also be due to a problem in the brain. Causes of this problem include:

When no cause for the sleepiness can be found, it is called idiopathic hypersomnia.

PROBLEMS STICKING TO A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE

Problems may also occur when you do not stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule. This occurs when people travel between time zones. It can also occur with shift workers who are on changing schedules, especially nighttime workers.

Disorders that involve a disrupted sleep schedule include:

  • Irregular sleep-wake syndrome
  • Jet lag syndrome
  • Shift work sleep disorder
  • Delayed sleep phase, as in teenagers who go to sleep very late at night and then sleep until noon
  • Advanced sleep phase, as in older adults who go to sleep early in the evening and wake up very early

SLEEP-DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIORS

Abnormal behaviors during sleep are called parasomnias. They are fairly common in children and include:

References

Chokroverty S, Avidan AY. Sleep and its disorders. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 102.

Sateia MJ, Thorpy MJ. Classification of sleep disorders. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 61.

Review Date: 1/15/2018

Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, VA New Jersey Health Care System, Clinical Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Internal review and update on 04/15/2019 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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