Know About 04 Important Types Of Sleep Disorders

Sleep is an integrated biological method. While sleeping, you are not conscious; however, the brain and physical function of the body remains alive. It keeps performing the tasks to ensure your body is functioning effectively. 

Physical, mental, and overall functioning of the body gets affected by a night of inadequate sleep. 

What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorder refers to the condition in which a person experiences issues with:

  • Timing,
  • Quality,
  • Amount of sleep

How Many Types Of Sleep Disorders Are There?

There exist over eighty different types of sleep disorders. Following are some of the most common ones:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Narcolepsy

We will have a brief discussion about all of them in the next section of the blog. 

What Is Insomnia?

Most people think that people having trouble falling asleep at night have insomnia. But, the condition of insomnia is a bit complex. 

It refers to a state where people are unable to fall or stay asleep even when they have an opportunity to do so. 


  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Waking up too soon in the morning
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Decreased concentration power
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased errors or accidents


There are two basic types of insomnia:

  • Primary Insomnia: It is a condition in which a person suffers from sleep trouble that does not link with any other medical ailments. 
  • Secondary Insomnia: It refers to a condition in which a person has insomnia resulting from some other medical ailments like heartburn, depression, asthma, arthritis, cancer. Any ongoing pain or medication or substance abuse can also give rise to secondary insomnia. 

Based on the duration of insomnia, it classifies into two types:

  • Acute Insomnia: Acute insomnia exists for shorter time duration and can be cured on its own without any medical assistance. It can happen because of a recent life event – like after hearing bad news or night before your exam or relationship issues. 

  • Chronic Insomnia: In this, you will experience sleeping trouble for at least three times a week; the condition can last upto three or more months. It can happen for several reasons – unhealthy sleep practices, rotational work shifts, other health conditions, or medications. Chronic Insomnia requires treatment for recovery. If a person doesn’t get proper treatment for this, he may develop some other medical issues as well. 


  • Stress
  • A traumatic event
  • Substance use
  • Psychological conditions like depression or anxiety
  • Pathological conditions like arthritis or severe back pain
  • Travel
  • Hectic work schedule
  • Having meals late in the evening

What Is Sleep Apnea?

The condition of sleep apnea is prevalent in the United States of America. In this, a person experiences breathing issues while sleeping. If the ailment remains untreated, the breathing of the person continually stops and starts during sleep. 

It implies that the brain and other body parts might not get a sufficient amount of oxygen. 


  • Restless sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Lack of energy during daytime
  • Mood swings
  • Waking up with a gasping or choking sensation
  • Recurrent awakenings
  • Loud snoring
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction


Sleep apnea is of two types:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: It is the most prevalent type of sleep apnea. It happens when the upper airways entirely or partially block while sleeping. Loud snoring is an indication that a person might have obstructive sleep apnea. 
  • Central Sleep Apnea: When breathing continuously starts and stops while sleeping, the condition is referred to as central sleep apnea. 

In this, the brain is not able to send appropriate signals to the muscle that monitor your breathing process. The patient can be provided with a device or supplemental oxygen to facilitate breathing. 

Central sleep apnea is very rare as compared to obstructive sleep apnea. 


  • Muscular changes
  • Physical obstructions

Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About Infertility

What Is Restless Legs Syndrome?

It is a condition that causes distress in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. It can bring about insomnia, and so it is considered a sleep disorder

It can cause at any age, and the condition usually worsens as you age. The restless legs syndrome is sometimes also referred to as Willis-Ekbom disease.


  • Restlessness while sleeping
  • An uncontrollable urge to move the limbs to ease the sensation
  • Itching or tingling sensation happening deep inside the legs
  • Nighttime leg twitching


The actual cause of restless legs syndrome is not yet known. Researchers believe that genetics can be responsible for the condition. 

Studies have shown that about half of the people who have RLS have one or more family members with the disorder. 

Other probable factors are listed below:

  • Certain medications like antidepressants, anti-nausea drugs, antipsychotic drugs, flu medications.
  • Pregnant women can get RLS during the last three months of pregnancy. The symptoms don’t usually last for more than one month after delivery.
  • Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, kidney disorder, diabetes, iron deficiency, peripheral neuropathy sometimes get you the symptoms of RLS. 

What Is Narcolepsy?

It is a type of neurological disorder that affects a person’s sleep and wake cycle. People suffering from narcolepsy can fall asleep anytime during daytime irrespective of the fact if they are doing any work. 

In the usual sleep cycle, a person first enters the initial stages of sleep, then moves into the more profound phase, and eventually into the rapid eye movement sleep.

But this process is not applicable for a person suffering from RLS. The person gets into the rapid eye movement stage the moment he enters the sleep cycle, or sometimes even before it. 


The symptoms may get worse in the starting years after the onset of the disease and can last for the entire lifetime. 

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations
  • Cataplexy
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Transformations in rapid eye movement sleep


Following are the two main types of cataplexy:

Narcolepsy with cataplexy:

In this, the person experiences sudden muscle weakness and losing control over the muscles of arms, legs, face, or torso along with other symptoms. 

It causes the person to make slurry word pronunciation, sagging jaw, and other similar symptoms. 

The person is awake for the entire duration of the cataplexy episode. The episode can last up to a fraction of seconds to a few minutes and can be caused due to a strong emotion like laughter or excitement.

Narcolepsy without cataplexy:

In this, all the symptoms of narcolepsy exist, except for the sudden muscle weakness caused by strong emotions. The condition is comparatively less severe than narcolepsy without cataplexy.





Tags: Types of sleeping disorders, Sleep disorders symptoms, Sleep disorders treatment

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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.