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Sleep disorders - overview

  • Definition
    • 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.

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

  • Causes
    • There are more than 100 different sleeping and waking disorders. They can be grouped into 4 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, meaning that 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 and 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
      • Paradoxical insomnia (the person sleeps a different amount than they think they do)
      • 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
      Irregular sleep

      SLEEP-DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIORS

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

  • References
    • Kryger MH, Rosenberg R, Martin L, Kirsch D. Hypersomnolence. In: Kryger MH, Rosenberg R, Martin L, Kirsch D, eds. Kryger's Sleep Medicine Review. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015:section 4.

      Sateia MJ. International classification of sleep disorders-third edition: highlights and modifications. Chest. 2014;146:1387-1394. PMID: 25367475 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25367475.

      Wakefield TL, Lam DJ, Ishman SL. Sleep apnea and sleep disorders. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 18.