Sleep Disorders


sleep disorder word cloudWhat are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are problems with sleeping, including trouble falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, too much sleep, or abnormal behaviours during sleep.

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 behaviours during sleep (sleep-disruptive behaviours)

Many people experience problems sleeping including not getting enough sleep, not feeling rested and not sleeping well. This problem can lead to difficulties functioning during the daytime and have unpleasant effects on your work, social and family life.

In addition to affecting sleep itself, many medical and mental health conditions can be worsened by sleep-related problems. Sleep issues can be a sign of an impending condition such as bipolar disorder. Problems sleeping can also be secondary to a medical illness such as sleep apnea, or a mental health condition like depression.

One of the major sleep disorders that people face is insomnia. Insomnia is an inability to get the amount of sleep needed to function efficiently during the daytime. Insomnia includes trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and episodes may come and go. They can last up to 3 weeks (be short-term) or be long-lasting and chronic.

How do Sleep Disorders develop?

Many anxiety disorders are associated with difficulties sleeping. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is frequently associated with poor sleep. Panic attacks during sleep may suggest a panic disorder. Poor sleep resulting from nightmares may be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More than one-half of insomnia cases are related to depression, anxiety or psychological stress.

The first-line treatment is inculcating good sleeping habits (-include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding stimulating activities like exercise before bed, and having a comfortable sleep environment) and taking care of any underlying conditions that may be causing the problems with sleeping. But when these are not enough, other treatment options (-medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, light therapy) can be considered.