How to diagnose and treat the 5 most common sleep disorders

Sleep disorders can seriously affect sleep, which in turn impacts behavior, mood, and work performance. Do you experience any of the following 5 common sleep disorders? Check it out now!

Trouble sleeping is one of the problems that affects a lot of people around the world. According to the American Sleep Association (AMA), sleep disorders currently affect between 50 and 70 million adults in the United States, and insomnia is the most common problem.

Insomnia can lead to very dangerous problems. According to the AMA, drowsiness while driving is responsible for 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries each year on American roads.

Thankfully, there are treatments you can talk to your patients about the 5 most common sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless limbs syndrome
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.

If you or any family member has any of the symptoms of the 5 disorders listed above, you should seek medical advice from your sleep doctor to get an official diagnosis.

1. Insomnia

Insomnia is the difficulty of falling asleep or staying asleep. There are two different types of insomnia. Transient or short-term insomnia and chronic insomnia.

  • Transient or short-term insomnia: This type of insomnia usually occurs after a stressful life event. For example, losing a loved one or experiencing relationship problems. It can also happen if you work shifts or are late for a plane. You may not be able to relax, have sleep disturbances, and may not be able to identify the real reason why you are unable to sleep.
  • Chronic Insomnia: Chronic insomnia is characterized by experiencing irreversible sleep, with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep for at least a month. You feel exhausted during the day. If you have persistent insomnia, you will experience a sleep pattern where you have a few nights of good sleep interspersed with many sleepless nights.

There are many reasons why you may have insomnia, such as:

  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Sleep-related breathing disturbances
  • Medical conditions
  • Sleep-wake schedule interrupted
  • Hormonal changes
  • Moving limbs while sleeping
  • Circulatory rhythm disorder
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General symptoms of insomnia

You may have insomnia if:

  • You cannot sleep even if you are tired.
  • You can’t get enough sleep to feel relaxed and refreshed.
  • You experience restless sleep and wake up exhausted.
  • You will not be able to concentrate and will feel tired and irritable.


Insomnia can affect your quality of life and social life. You may also experience headaches, muscle tension, and digestive-related symptoms

Common types of treatment for insomnia

In most cases of insomnia, your doctor will prescribe medication tailored to your own specific needs.

For example, if you have insomnia due to anxiety or depression, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication. Your doctor may also prescribe sleeping pills, but usually only for short-term use or as needed.

Non-medical methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, sleep restriction, stimulus control, and relaxation techniques, may also be used to treat insomnia.

Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

2. Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious but common sleep disorder.

Your airways are constantly blocked and you will stop breathing. When this happens, you may make a choking noise or snore loudly. When you stop breathing, the brain is deprived of oxygen and this makes you wake up startled. This can happen once or twice a night. However, it can happen hundreds of times a night in severe cases.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea

You may have sleep apnea if:

  • You wake up at night with a dry or sore throat.
  • You snore loudly.
  • Occasionally you wake up gasping or choking.
  • You feel extremely sleepy during the day.
  • You lack energy in general.
  • You have a headache.
  • You feel tired and irritable.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea

Loud snoring could be one of the signs that you have sleep apnea

Common types of treatment for sleep apnea

There are different ways to treat sleep apnea, including:

– CPAP therapy. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure therapy) machine is used to keep your airways open while you sleep. The machine uses mild air pressure and is attached to a mask or prong that fits over your nose.

– Alternatives. There are other alternatives if you don’t like the idea of ​​wearing a mask to bed. You can choose to wear dental equipment or perform surgery. In some cases, losing weight can also help improve or eliminate symptoms if you are obese or overweight.

Changing your sleeping position is also one of the ways to prevent sleep apnea. Some people primarily experience sleep apnea when they lie on their backs. Postural therapy usually involves wearing a device that helps you sleep on your side.

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3. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy causes you to suddenly fall asleep at any time, no matter where you are. Oftentimes, you fall asleep out of control under unusual circumstances, such as while eating.


People with narcolepsy are unable to regulate their sleep-wake cycles

General symptoms of narcolepsy

You may have narcolepsy if:

  • You fall asleep without warning.
  • You feel very sleepy during the day.
  • You are paralyzed when you sleep.
  • You have cataplexy (a temporary loss of muscle control that makes you feel weak or can cause you to collapse. Cataplexy is usually a response to emotions like anger or laughter).
  • Hallucinations when you go from being awake to sleeping (hypnagogic) or from being asleep to being awake (hypnopompic).
  • Insomnia and disturbed night sleep.

Common types of treatment for narcolepsy

In these cases, your doctor may prescribe treatment through scheduled naps and medication.

4. Restless limbs syndrome

Restless hands and feet syndrome (RLS) manifests as an uncontrollable urge or desire to move your legs when you are resting.

You may also feel uncomfortable aches, tingling, burning, and a feeling that something is crawling in your calf. Sometimes you feel these unpleasant sensations in other body parts.

Restless hands and feet syndrome

If you have this syndrome, you will feel uncomfortable or like something is crawling in your legs

Common Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

You may have restless legs syndrome if:

  • You feel a strong urge to move your legs.
  • You have a crawling sensation or pain in your legs.
  • Your symptoms are worse when you are inactive.
  • Your symptoms get worse at night.
  • You find relief from your symptoms when you stretch, walk, or move.

Most people with RLS have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. If left untreated, this condition causes exhaustion and fatigue during the day.

In fact, the majority of RLS patients report that their work, personal relationships, and daily activities are strongly affected by their sleep deprivation. They are often unable to concentrate, have memory impairments, or are unable to complete daily tasks. It can also make walking difficult and can cause depression.

Common Types of Treatment for Restless Legs Syndrome

Medications and behavioral therapy can be used to treat RLS. You should consult your doctor if you experience symptoms of this syndrome.

5. REM . Sleep Behavior Disorder

When you have REM sleep behavior disorder, you act out your dreams while you sleep. You may move your limbs or even engage in activities that involve waking, such as talking, shouting, screaming, hitting or punching.

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Most people experience muscle paralysis while sleeping.

REM . sleep behavior disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder is often considered a serious problem if it poses a danger to the patient, or to those around them.

Common symptoms of REM . sleep behavior disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder is most common in men. It can appear at any age, but it is most common in men over the age of 50.

REM sleep behavior disorder is uncommon in women and children. but is more common in the elderly. RBD is also seen more often in people with certain neurological disorders.

You may have REM sleep behavior disorder if:

  • You move your limbs in your sleep.
  • You scream, talk, hit, punch, scream, and more while you sleep.

Common types of treatment for REM . sleep behavior disorder

People who are found to have REM sleep behavior disorder may develop Parkinson’s disease years later. People diagnosed with REM sleep behavior disorder should watch for symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremors.

People with REM sleep behavior disorder are at increased risk for other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, cyclic limb movement disorder, and sleep apnea.

If you notice any signs of illness, you should see a doctor for timely examination and treatment. REM sleep behavior disorder is usually treated with medication. In some cases, your doctor will also teach you some ways to prevent injury for you and your loved ones.

It’s important to seek professional help if you’re having trouble sleeping and feel you recognize any of the above symptoms as happening to you.

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Reference source

How to Diagnose & Treat the 5 Most Common Sleep Disorders Accessed: 28/1/ 2021

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