Sleep Disorders: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

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Sleep Disorders

“To live a long and a healthy life- sleep like a child and laugh like a child”- An Irish Saying

Sleep is our all-important refresh button. Sleep disorders can invite a wave of health complications including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.

Regrettably, our modern lifestyle has compelled us to disregard sleep. Sleep is when the body and brain restore energy and prepare for the next day when we sleep.

That’s why it's important that people are well-educated about the risks of sleep disorders.

Keep reading to learn about sleep disorders, their causes, diagnosis, and treatment. 

“I couldn’t sleep for six months. With insomnia, nothing seems real. Everything seems far away.” - says the unnamed narrator in the 1999 cult-classic movies Fight Club.

Sleep disorders, as the name suggests, are disruptions to the normal sleeping routine. The reasons for sleep disorders vary from one individual to another. Long-term sleep disorders can have a significant impact on one's overall health, safety, and quality of life. 

So far experts have identified 80+ types of sleep disorders. However, we can broadly categorize sleep disorder types into:



     Sleep Apnea (Abnormal breathing during sleep)

     Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)



Sleep disruptions can be caused by a range of reasons - physiological and mental. The most common sleep disorder causes include:


Allergies, colds, and respiratory infections can cause sleep disruption. Additionally, allergies are more severe at night. Individuals with allergic issues are more likely to experience sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

    Frequent Urination

Nocturia (nighttime urination) is a major sleep disrupter. According to research and polls, 70% of adults over the age of 40 get up at least once a night to use the restroom. Every night, around a third of people over 30 use the restroom twice or more. 

    Chronic pain

Patients with chronic pain often experience less deep sleep, more nightly awakenings, and inefficient sleep. It’s difficult to sleep well when you are bothered by constant pain. It could even wake you up after you've fallen asleep. The common causes of chronic pain include:

     Joint pain



     Muscle strain

     Stress or anxiety

     Nerve injury

Anxiety symptoms can quickly combine to make sleeping more difficult, resulting in anxiety-induced insomnia. Anxiety-induced insomnia patients are unable to relax, unwind, or fall asleep due to a constant sense of concern or apprehension. 

Symptoms of sleep disorders differ from person to person. They may also differ depending on the severity of the situation.

However, general sleep disorders symptoms include:


     Daytime sleepiness

     Irregular breathing

     Movement during sleep

     Abrupt changes to sleep/wake schedule

     Unexplained irritability or anxiety

     Tiredness and lowered productivity


     Lapse in concentration

     Weight gain

The need for sleep varies with stages of life. Here’s a list that highlights the healthy sleep duration for people in different age groups:

     Babies should get 12+ hours of sleep

     Children and teenagers should get 9 hours of sleep

     Adults should get 7-9 hours  of sleep

     Older people should get 7-8 hours of sleep

Not getting enough or excellent quality sleep causes more than just weariness. Sleepiness decreases cognitive function, resulting in learning difficulties in children, memory loss, personality changes, and depression in adults.

People who are sleep-deprived have difficulty making decisions, are agitated, perform poorly, and have slower reaction times. Below we have listed the most common complications that can arise from sleep deprivation:

     Heart disease

     Cognitive challenges

     Autoimmune diseases like diabetes, arthritis

     Mood swings


     Abnormal blood pressure

     Premature aging.



The doctor may propose a series of tests after an initial examination and evaluation of any underlying medical conditions. The following are the most commonly prescribed tests for sleep disorder diagnosis:

     Polysomnography (PSG): It is a sleep study or test that is performed while you are completely asleep. A doctor will monitor you while you sleep and keep track of your sleep patterns. Oxygen levels, body movements, and brain waves are observed to see how they interrupt sleep.

     Electroencephalogram (EEG): This process has been widely employed to .measure electrical activity in the brain and looks for any potential issues. One of the uses of EEG is to identify stress-related disorders, depending on their severity.

     Multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT): The test is used to determine the amount of daytime sleepiness and sleep latency (how soon the patient falls asleep).

These tests can be very helpful in finding the best treatment plan for sleep disorders.

Sleep disorder treatment varies based on the type and underlying reason. It usually consists of a combination of medical therapies and lifestyle adjustments.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatment includes physical/mental therapy and medications. Depending on the severity of the disorder, your doctor might suggest:

              Cognitive-behavioral therapy to identify the source of stress that keeps you awake at night.

              Supplements and medications such as Melatonin for insomnia and Gabapentin to treat restless legs syndrome.

Note: No medications mentioned in this blog must be used unless prescribed by a doctor.

Lifestyle Changes

Few people recognize that the quality of our sleep is closely related to our way of living. Our bodies and minds cannot function at their full potential without adequate sleep. As a result, maintaining a healthy lifestyle that does not interrupt our sleeping patterns is critical. 

Consider Following These Tips: 

             Have a fixed wake time

             Sleep at the same time

             Sleep in a room with minimal noise and light

             Control the temperature so you feel comfortable

             Stay away from caffeine or alcohol

             Keep the last meal of the day small and simple.

             Quit smoking

             Practice yoga or some form of exercise 

Food has the potential to significantly improve sleep quality. Here is a list of foods to consider.

     Bananas: Relax muscles and make you sleep well.

     Oats: Rich in sleep hormones

     Almonds: Natural sleep enhancer

     Milk and Honey:  Improves overall sleep quality

Expert Tip: Before going to bed, always eat light. Allow yourself a few hours to digest your meal. Additionally, make sure your bed is both comfortable and clean.


Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help you get better sleep. While it's tempting to sleep late during weekends, it, however, disrupts your biological clock and is ill-advised.

It’s natural to have problems sleeping every once in a while. But if the pattern continues for a considerable period of time, it is always wise to consult an expert. At  Kayawell you can find the best health experts near you with just a few clicks. You can even make a virtual visit using our Telehealth solutions for patients. It’s simple, easy, and efficient. 

Sleep Disorders