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Common Sleep Disorders

These explanations of common sleep disorders may help you determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when a person doesn't breathe normally during sleep. Warning signs are loud snoring and long pauses between breaths. The person may be sleepy enough during the day to fall asleep at work or at a stoplight. Sleep apnea can trigger high blood pressure, heart failure, or a stroke. It can affect men and women of any age and occasionally affects children.


Insomnia – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep – can be caused by stress, changing work schedule, lack of activity, or caffeine. Noise, light and illness can also disrupt sleep. Treatment of insomnia requires an informed doctor. Effective treatments are available. Sleeping pills can be addictive and are not a long-term solution.

Restless Legs Syndrome & Periodic Limb Movements

People with Restless Leg Syndrome cannot fall asleep because of an irresistible urge to move their legs. Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is involuntary movement of the limbs during sleep. Both of these disorders prevent a person from sleeping soundly, making them sleepy and less productive during waking hours.

Night Shift Work

Workers on the night shift often face problems with getting enough sleep during the day and staying alert at night. This can affect social and family relationships, as well as lead to more illness and accidents.


Narcolepsy is defined as "undesirable sleepiness at inappropriate times." The four most common symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of strength in the muscles (cataplexy), a brief loss of muscle control that occurs when a person is falling asleep or waking up (sleep paralysis), and hallucinations that occur just before falling asleep, during naps and/or upon waking up.

Sleep Walking

This disorder is commonly seen in older children, and can range from simply getting out of bed and walking around the bedroom to prolonged and complex actions, such as going to another part of the house or outdoors.

Other Sleep Disorders

There are 84 classified sleep disorders which can affect the quality of sleep. These include sleep walking, sleep terrors, tooth grinding and violent acting out during dreams. If any sleep time behavior affects a person's safety or ability to get a good night's rest, it may need treatment.