20 Types of Sleeping Disorders (Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment)

Sleep disorder definition: Sleeping disorder has become an alarming issue across the world at recent times. People have trouble sleeping from time to time. For many people, it is an ongoing problem. The sufferers belong to various age groups. If it an ongoing problem for you, you are suffering from a sleep disorder. So, You should know about sleep disorders psychology.

Lack of good sleep can lead to serious health issues. You may struggle to keep up with the daily life activities due to lack of enough sleep. Thus, it is necessary to get good sleep to maintain optimal health. It can cause hormonal imbalance, weight gain, body ache, and stress.

A sleep disorder is a medical disorder of the sleeping pattern. Some may experience serious issues and need medications for it. Others may need to change their lifestyle to get over this problem. Sleep disorders are also known as somnipathy.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has identified 80 different types of sleeping disorders. In this article, we have shortlisted some of the sleep disorders that are very common.

Common Types of Sleeping Disorders List

These are the most common sleep disorders that we see around. See here the list of sleep disorders below.

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Hypersomnias
  • Narcolepsy
  • Circadian Rhythm Disorders
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)
  • Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS)
  • Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm
  • Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm
  • Jetlag
  • Parasomnias
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep terrors
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Confusional arousal
  • Nocturnal Enuresis
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)
  • Sleep-Related Bruxism (SB)
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)


It is the most common sleeping disorder among individuals. It occurs when a person has trouble falling asleep or trouble to stay asleep. As you age you are more prone to become insomniac. It is more common among individuals who belong to lower socio-economic standard.

Types of insomnia

There are two types of insomnia. They are primary insomnia and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is characterized by sleeping difficulty that is not directly associated with any other health issues. Secondary insomnia occurs when a person is unable to sleep due to other issues. It can be a health condition, pain or medication.
Again, insomnia can be short term or long term. Short term insomnias are referred as acute insomnia. This can last from one night to few weeks. If insomnia lasts for longer than three weeks, it is called chronic insomnia.

Causes of insomnia

There can be several underlying causes that may lead to insomnia. Causes of acute insomnia include:

  • Significant life stress
  • Emotional trauma
  • Specific medications
  • Bad health condition
  • Unsuitable environment
  • Jet lag
  • Switching job from night shift to day shift

Causes of chronic insomnia are:

  • Deep depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Enduring stress

Symptoms of insomnia

Symptoms of insomnia include one or more of the symptoms:

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Feeling lethargic upon waking
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Difficulty in concentrating

The victims

Insomnia can affect people of all age groups. But they are more common among the elderly individuals. Also, women are more affected compared to men.


If you have the above symptoms talk to your healthcare provider. You may have to go through physical examination and show your medical history. The healthcare provider may ask you to manage a diary and record your sleeping pattern. S/he may also consult your sleeping partner about your sleeping pattern if you have any.


Sleep disorders treatment is depend on it types and symptoms   according to doctor. Acute insomnia doesn’t need to be treated. They often get better with time. Chronic insomnia requires treatment. The healthcare provider often prescribes sleeping pills and also gives behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy requires changing your certain behavior to promote good sleep. Behavioral therapy includes relaxation techniques and sleeps restriction therapy. Reconditioning your sleeping pattern can also be helpful in treating insomnia.

Tips and tricks to beat insomnia

  • Try to manage the same sleeping pattern every single day
  • Avoid sleeping during the daytime
  • Avoid using any gadgets that give off the light before bedtime
  • Avoid having nicotine and caffeine after 6 pm
  • Exercise daily long before your bedtime
  • Make the environment of the room appropriate for a good sleep
  • Make sure there is no night time noise around your bedroom.
  • Try relaxation before your bedtime
  • Meditate every day for at least 15 minutes. This will help you to get rid of anxiety and depression that may be harming your sleep.
  • Try taking a bath before bedtime

Sleep Apnea

It is a serious sleeping disorder. It occurs when breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleeping. The oxygen level in the blood decreases during this time.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea. They are obstructive, central and complex sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax, and the airway becomes blocked. It is the most common form of sleep apnea. In central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send the signal to the muscles that control breathing. Complex apnea syndrome occurs when a person suffers from both obstructive and central sleep apnea. It is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.

Causes of sleep apnea

It is caused by either the physical structure of the individual or the medical conditions. Causes include

  • Obesity
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure
  • Genetic factors
  • Large tonsils
  • Premature birth
  • Endocrine disorders

Symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Snoring loudly during sleeping
  • Waking up gasping and choking
  • Feeling sleepy during daytime
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Waking up with a headache and dry throat
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swing
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Waking up during night time

The victims

Sleep apnea seems to affect men more than women. Almost twice as men are affected as compared to women. Obese people are at a high risk of suffering from sleep apnea. People who have large tonsils or large tongue poses a high risk of getting sleep apnea. Also, as you grow older your chances of suffering from sleep apnea increases.


If you have the symptoms mentioned above, consult a doctor immediately. Your doctor may ask you to take a test for sleep apnea known as a polysomnogram. It is a sleep study which records your physical activities during sleep. Then based on the records a report will be prepared. Then after seeing the report, a sleep specialist will confirm whether you have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder. If they find out you have sleep apnea they may ask you take more sleep test to provide you with the best treatment option. Other sleep test includes ECG, EGG, Nasal airflow center, Snore microphone, etc.


There are several treatments available to keep the airway open during sleeping. This may take you to make changes in your lifestyle. You may have to go through a surgery to cure it. Or the doctor may prescribe you to attach yourself to a breathing device while sleeping. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Here a mask is worn over the nose during sleeping. the mask is kept attached to a machine. The machine ensures continuous airflow into the nose. Thus, breathing becomes regular and continuous.

Tips to beat sleep apnea

  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Change your sleeping position so that you can breathe comfortably
  • Try not to sleep on your back
  • Quit smoking and drinking alcohol


It is a condition when a person suffers from excessive sleepiness during the daytime. In this condition, you are unable to control your sleep. You can go to sleep anytime while performing any task that may be driving or working at sitting at a desk. You might experience other sleep-related problems like lack of concentration or tiredness.

Types of Hypersomnias

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders found 8 different central disorders of Hypersomnias. Though they do not divide those 8 disorders into any category, they can be divided into two categories. They are primary and secondary hypersomnias. Primary hypersomnias are the ones that are caused by their own i.e they are not caused by any other condition. Secondary hypersomnias are the ones that are the caused by other conditions.

The primary form of hypersomnias includes narcolepsy type 1, narcolepsy type 2, idiopathic hypersomnia, and Kleine-Levin syndrome. The secondary form of hypersomnias includes hypersomnia due to a medical condition, hypersomnia due to a medication or substance, hypersomnia associated with a psychiatric condition, and insufficient sleep syndrome.



A narcolepsy is a form of primary hypersomnia. It is the most common form of hypersomnia. It is a neurological disorder. Along with excessive sleep, the person might experience hallucinations and episodes of cataplexy. Cataplexy is a complete or partial loss of muscle control. It affects 5 percent of the population.

The victims

it plagues men and women equally. People usually develop it at the early stage of their life.


The root causes of narcolepsy are not very well known yet. However, scientists believe that narcolepsy is strongly associated to a genetic disorder and other environmental factors that may affect your brain chemicals. Scientists have discovered that people with narcolepsy lack hypocretin. Hypocretin is a chemical in the brain that activates arousal.

Signs and symptoms

  • Feel sleepy during the day
  • Fall asleep involuntarily
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations
  • Sudden weakness in the arms legs or trunk muscle
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Unaware of the actions and become forgetful
  • Hyperactivity


It is very difficult to diagnose narcolepsy. It is often mistaken for other disorders like laziness and depression and other sleep disorders. It can take even up to 15 years for the doctors to recognize this disease after experiencing its first symptom. It is harder to diagnose if the symptoms are mild. If your doctor sees the symptoms of narcolepsy s/he will suggest you visit a sleep specialist. The sleep specialist will most likely ask you to do sleep studies. Sleep studies are conducted at sleep centers. Two tests are done to diagnose narcolepsy. The tests include polysomnogram (PSG) and a multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT). For a PSG test, you need to stay overnight at the sleep center. This test will record your eye movement, brain activity, blood pressure, and heartbeat. In an MSLT test, a person is asked to sleep for 20 minutes every 2 hours throughout the day. During this time a technician will check the brain activity of the person.

Spinal fluid analysis can also be done to see the level of hypocretin. A person with narcolepsy will have often had a lower level of hypocretin. This is a new test that is used to diagnose narcolepsy.


There is no cure yet for narcolepsy. The doctor might give you a combination of treatment to control the symptoms of narcolepsy. The combination of treatment includes medication, counseling and a change in lifestyle. Certain drugs are prescribed for narcolepsy. Those include stimulants, antidepressants, and sodium oxybate.

Tips to beat narcolepsy

  • Take scheduled naps of 10 to 15 minutes during the daytime
  • Sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime
  • Quit smoking and taking alcohol
  • Work out regularly
  • Avoid activities that would be dangerous if you suddenly fall asleep
  • Practice yoga and meditation

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Circadian Rhythm Disorders are disruptions is a person’s internal body clock. The disruption can either result from a malfunction in the “internal body clock” or a mismatch between the “internal body clock” and the external environment. People with circadian rhythm disorders often complain of insomnia and excessive sleepiness at other times of the day, resulting in work, school, or social impairment.

Types of circadian rhythm disorder

There are two types of circadian rhythm disorder. They ate intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic are the ones in a which your body clock is completely separated from the rest of the society. You follow the completely different sleeping pattern. Extrinsic circadian rhythm disorder is the ones in which your body clock in a sync with the daylight and nighttime darkness but due to inappropriate schedules of work, your body clock is interrupted.


Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)

It is a syndrome when your sleep is delayed at nights beyond socially acceptable time. This delayed sleep results in waking up late the morning impairing your normal routine.


The exact cause of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is not known yet. However, the scientists think that DSPS may be an exaggerated reaction to the normal shift in the internal clocks that is seen in adolescents after puberty.

The victims

It affects the adolescents mostly. Rare cases have been reported where children have been affected.

Signs and symptoms

  • More energetic and active at night
  • Inability to fall asleep at night on time
  • Sleepiness during the daytime
  • Lack of concentration and focus at work
  • Inability to wake up at the desired time
  • Dependency on caffeine
  • Depression


The diagnosis of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is done based on the symptoms. To confirm the rest-activity rhythms an actigraph can be used. An actigraph is wrist-watch like device. Tests like polysomnogram may be performed to rule out the chances of having any other sleep disorder.


Certain behavioral therapy along with medications may be used. Melatonin or other sleep-inducing medicines may be used for treating Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. Behavioral therapy may include advancing or delaying the internal body clock. In this method, the sleeping time is either advanced or delayed each successive night until the desired time is attained. Some doctors also recommend bright light therapy. In this therapy, the patient is asked to purchase a special light box. The patient is exposed to bright light for at least half an hour at the supposed waking up time.

Tips to beat Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

  • Avoid caffeine at late hours
  • Avoid using any gadget at late hours that gives off light
  • Avoid exposure to bright light at nights

Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS)

It is a syndrome occurs when a person goes to sleep too early than the usual bedtime. They also wake up early from the people of the rest of the society. They have an early bird circadian clock. These people often complain to have early morning insomnia.


The exact cause of ASPS is not yet well understood but it is thought to be genetic. There is a 50% chance for the sufferers to pass it on to their next generation.

The victims

It affects men and women equally. The elderly people are more prone to Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome.

Signs and symptoms

  • Feeling sleepy in the evening
  • Very active between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Inability to cope up with late night social events


People with Advanced sleep phase syndrome may face difficulties or may not face any difficulty at all. If you are facing difficulty to sync this early bird time with social activities or work time, you should consult a doctor. The doctor may ask you to manage a diary and record sleep patterns. The doctor will also ask you about your family medical history since Advanced Sleep Phase syndrome is often genetic. Tell your doctor if you have any past record of drug or alcohol abuse. Also, don’t forget to mention your doctor about any past record of sleeping disorder if you had one. You may need to undergo polysomnography test to knock out the chances of other sleeping disorder.


Behavioral therapy is mostly used to treat Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome. Chronotherapy is a behavioral therapy. Here the patient’s bedtime is gradually delayed over small increments each day until s/he gets the desired sleeping time. Exposure to bright light in the evening can also reset the circadian rhythm system.

Tips to beat Advanced sleep phase syndrome

  • Take caffeine at the late hours
  • Go for hangouts in the evenings. This will help to stay awake during those hours.
  • Try to do something that requires a lot of energy like dancing and exercising in the evening time

Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm

People with tend to shift their sleep cycle a little later every day. With shifting the sleeping cycle, a little later every passing day, a person might stay awake even till morning. People with Non-24-hours Sleep-Wake rhythm have circadian rhythms that are not synchronized with the 24-hour day-night cycle. This sleeping disorder is often misunderstood with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.


It can happen due to lack of light perception. It is very common among blind people since they have very less light perception.

The victims

Non-24-hours Sleep-Wake rhythm is very common in totally blind people. They lack light information that is important to regulate the 24-hour day-night cycle. People with mental retardation, brain injury and dementia are also at risk of getting this disorder.

Signs and symptoms

  • Inability to fall asleep at night the regular time
  • Sleepiness throughout the day upon waking up at regular time
  • Have a sleep cycle that continues to get later with every passing day


People with such disorder should seek doctor’s advice if it is harming his personal and professional life. These sleep disorders often harm the life of the patient seriously. You face trouble maintaining relationships. You fail to fulfill your responsibilities. And it gets worse with passing time. It can make you homebound and isolated.

To diagnose the problem the doctor will ask about your medical, neurologic, and sleep symptoms. He may also ask your family history and other medications. You should inform his doctor if you are going through any other sleeping disorder or neurological disorder.

You may have to manage a diary and keep the track of the sleeping patterns. You may also be asked to wear an actigraph. Other testing methods such as measuring body temperature and melatonin level can also be used. If the doctor suspects the involvement of any neurological problem, he may ask you to do a CT scan or an MRI.


A combination of behavioral therapy and medication can be given to reduce the incidence of Non-24-hours Sleep-Wake rhythm. For the blind adults, right doses of melatonin at the right time can improve the condition. Bright light therapy can be used for the sighted people.

Tips to beat Non-24-hours Sleep-Wake rhythm

  • Get exposure to bright light in the daytime
  • Avoid caffeine at night time
  • Quit smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Avoid naps at daytime
  • Avoid exercising close to bedtime

Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm

It happens to people who do not have any specific sleeping pattern. They may sleep off and on in a series of naps over a 24-hour period that usually adds up to a normal sleep cycle of 7-9 hours. Their sleeping pattern and duration can vary on a day-to-day basis.


The root cause of the irregular sleep-wake syndrome is almost absence of the circadian rhythm. Due to the absence of circadian rhythm, the sleeping time is broken up into pieces all day and all night.

The victims

It is very rare. There is no known data as to how many people have it. It is believed that some people have it because they have a weak body clock. People who have Dementia, Brain damage or Mental retardation possess a high risk of getting Irregular-Sleep-Wake-Rhythm.

Signs and symptoms

  • Take series of naps throughout the day
  • No specified sleeping patterns
  • Drowsy throughout the day
  • Have a sleeping time that is not normal for their age


The diagnosis of Irregular-Sleep-Wake-Rhythm is very similar to the diagnosis of Non-24-hours Sleep-Wake rhythm. The doctors may ask you to manage a diary and record the sleeping pattern. The diagnosis of irregular sleep-wake rhythm is made clinically and with the use of the sleep diary. Again, the doctor may ask you to wear an actigraph to record inactive and active episodes. Body temperature and melatonin level may have to be measured. If the doctor suspects the involvement of other neurological condition, blood test CT Scan and MRI can be performed.


The goal is to reset the sleep clock so that you get one long sleep time at night and one long awake time during the day. Medication like melatonin can be prescribed to children and teens to cope up with the problem. Bright light therapy should be used during the day.

Tips to beat Irregular-Sleep-Wake-Rhythm

  • Create a sleeping environment at night
  • Avoid exercising before bedtime. Exercise every day in the daytime.
  • Have more social interaction during the daytime
  • Avoid evening time caffeine
  • Quit smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Limit using gadgets that give off the light at night times.


It occurs when people frequently travel to different time zones. It is also known as zone change syndrome or desynchronosis. It is a physiological condition that results from a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythms.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus contains two groups of neurons. One of these groups is associated with deep sleep and the other one controls the dream state of rapid eye movement sleep. The groups are separate, but they are linked. When jet lag occurs, the groups find it hard to stay in sync with each other.

The victims

People who travel long distances frequently or people who switch work from night shift to day shift.

Signs and symptoms

  • Disturbed sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty in concentrating and focusing
  • Disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Depression
  • Dizzy feeling
  • Appetite loss
  • A headache


If you need to travel long distances frequently and jet lag is a problem, consider seeing a sleep specialist — a physician or psychologist who has specialized training in sleep medicine.


There is no particular treatment for jet lag. Melatonin and certain other medications can help to cure jet lag problems.

Tips to beat jet lags

  • Stay hydrated
  • If you have important work at your new place, it is better to arrive early
  • Do some static exercises on the flight
  • Take a hot bath before bedtime after traveling. It will help to relax the muscles
  • If you need to travel frequently stay fit. People who are fit face less trouble in coming up with jet lags than the people who are not.


Parasomnias are the abnormal events that are carried out by you while you are sleeping. Parasomnia can occur at any time during the sleep cycle. If it occurs while falling asleep you can experience hallucinations or sleep paralysis.

Types of parasomnias

There are many types of parasomnias. Some most common parasomnias include sleepwalking, nightmares, sleep terrors, sleep talking, REM Sleep behavior disorder, Enuresis, sleep paralysis and confusional arousal.


Sleepwalking is a disorder characterized by performing complex behavior while asleep. The most obvious behavior during sleep is walking. The formal name for sleepwalking is somnambulism.


There are several factors that lead to sleepwalking. It can be the result of genetic, environmental, medical and physiologic factors. A study revealed that sleepwalking is ten times more likely to occur if a first-degree relative has a history of sleepwalking.

Signs and symptoms

  • Getting up from the bed and walking around the room
  • Typically, they keep their eyes are open while performing complex behavior
  • Inappropriate behavior like urinating in closets
  • Usually, they don’t remember the episode
  • Trouble arousing the sleepwalker during an episode
  • Sleeptalking

The victims

It is common for children. Children with sleep apnea are more prone to the sleepwalking disorder. People who have a family history of sleepwalking are at a high risk of suffering from sleepwalking. Also, the people who are stressed out and deprived of good sleep are the victims of sleepwalking.


Usually, no tests are performed to diagnose sleepwalking. The doctors consult with the family members of the suspected patient to know more about his/her behavior. At rare times a physiological test is done to determine the stress level. Sleep study tests are done if the doctor is still unsure of the identification of the symptoms.


Medication and a healthy lifestyle can prevent sleepwalking. Benzodiazepines and trazodone have been used to reduce the incidence of sleepwalking. Clonazepam can also be taken if the reason for sleepwalking is stress.

Tips to beat sleepwalking

  • Get proper sleep
  • Mediate
  • Practice yoga for relaxation



Nightmares are realistic, disturbing dreams that evoke fear, anxiety, or sadness. They are usually lengthy and occurs in the latter part of the night. They are so horrifying that they awaken people from deep sleep. People can usually recall nightmares.


Nightmares are usually spontaneous. But there are also certain factors that trigger the nightmares. Certain medications can cause nightmares. Drugs that act on the chemicals of the brain such as antidepressants are associated with nightmares. Blood pressure medicines can also be the reasons for nightmares.

Withdrawal from certain drugs and alcohol can be reasons for nightmares too. If you feel a change in the frequency of nightmares after withdrawing from certain drugs, talk to your doctor.
Other than these factors depression anxiety can also trigger nightmares. Other sleeping disorder also plays a role in the occurrence of nightmares.

The victims

People of all ages can suffer from nightmares.

Signs and symptoms

  • Waking up from sleep with fear, anxiety or sadness
  • Feel like the dream was the reality
  • Difficulty falling going back to sleep


Most of the people experience nightmares time to time. If you are getting frequent nightmares and it is hampering your peaceful sleep, you should consult a doctor. The doctor will ask you about your medications, alcohol intake and lifestyle. Also, s/he will ask you if you are taking any illegal drugs.

There is no specific test for nightmares. If the doctor is unable to detect the underlying causes of the nightmares s/he might ask you to take a sleep study. During sleep study, the sensors will monitor various functions that take place during your sleep.

If your doctor suspects that the cause of the nightmares is due to PSTD or anxiety s/he may go for other tests.


There is no specific medicine to treat nightmares as they can be caused by various reasons. Treating the underlying cause will alleviate the occurrence of nightmares. Counseling can help to lessen the incidence of nightmares. If your nightmares are caused due to PSTD, the doctor may prescribe prazosin.

Tips to beat nightmares

  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid tranquilizers
  • Practice meditation and yoga
  • Practice relaxation before going to bed
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol and caffeine

Sleep terrors

They are episodes of extreme fear and screaming while still asleep. It is also known as night terrors. It usually lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes, but it can also last longer. It occurs in the deepest cycle of the sleep. They are often paired with sleepwalking.

Sleep terrors are different from nightmares. In nightmares, the person wakes up and recalls the episode but in sleep terror, the episodes happen while they are asleep. People usually don’t remember sleep terrors.


Various factors can cause sleep terrors such as sleep deprivation, stress or extreme tiredness. Interruptions during sleep due to any underlying reasons can also cause sleep terrors.

Signs and symptoms

  • Screaming out of fear
  • Hard to be awaken
  • Confused upon awakening during the episode
  • Inability to recall the episode the next morning
  • They can act aggressively if they are stopped to run out of the house
  • Heartbroken
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heartbeat rate
  • Sweating

The victims

Sleep terrors are more common among the children than adults. Children aged 4 to 12 have more sleep terrors.


The diagnosis of sleep terrors is completed with physical examination, medical history and identifying the signs and symptoms. In some cases, the doctors recommend taking polysomnography test to monitor brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heartbeat rate and breathing. They also monitor the leg movements while you sleep.


Therapy and medication are proven helpful to treat sleep terrors. Therapies like CBT and hypnosis are usually given. The doctor may prescribe benzodiazepine tranquilizers in serious cases so that you can relax and sleep without interruption.

Tips to beat sleep terrors

  • Meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques can reduce the incidence of sleep terrors
  • Take a hot shower before going bed
  • Read any book before going to bed
  • Don’t exercise close to bedtime

Sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a state of being conscious but unable to move or talk. It occurs during awakening which is called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis or falling asleep which is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis.

The victims

Sleep paralysis occurs mostly in the teenage life. Men and women are equally affected.


Causes of sleep paralysis can be genetic. Other factors that cause sleep paralysis includes sleep deprivation, changes in sleep schedule, substance abuse or taking certain medications. Sleep disorders like narcolepsy can also be the cause of sleep paralysis.

Signs and symptoms

  • Inability to move
  • Trouble breathing
  • The person usually lies on his back during the episode
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme fear
  • Sensing the presence of evil
  • Chest pressure


There is no specified test to identify sleep paralysis. After hearing your symptoms, the doctor may ask you to manage a diary to record the frequency of the events. He may also ask your family history. He may ask you to take sleep study to confirm the absence of any other sleep disorder.


There is no specific medicine to treat sleep paralysis. Treating the underlying issues that are causing sleep paralysis may alleviate the symptoms of sleep paralysis. The doctors might prescribe Tricyclic antidepressants if narcolepsy is the underlying cause of sleep paralysis. Other than that, adopting good sleeping habits can lessen the incidence of sleep paralysis.

Tips to beat sleep paralysis

  • Try relaxation techniques before bedtime
  • Practice yoga and meditation on a daily basis
  • Take a hot shower before bedtime
  • Avoid sleeping at your back

Confusional arousal

It is a sleeping disorder that makes you act confused upon waking up. You may act like you don’t know where you are or what you are doing.


Causes of confusional arousal include drug abuse, alcohol consumption, use of Psychotropic medication and Obstructive sleep apnea.

The victims

Men and women equally suffer from confusional arousal. The occurrence rate is high among children and adults aged under 35.

Signs and symptoms

  • Confused expression
  • Slow response
  • Confused speech
  • Poor memory
  • In rare cases, there can be hostile or aggressive behavior


If you see the symptoms of confusional arousal see a sleep specialist. Tell him about your medical history. Also, inform him if you were addicted to any illegal drugs.
The doctor will ask you to manage a sleep diary for at least 2 weeks. This will help the doctor with the clues of the disorder. You may also require doing a sleep study.


Antidepressants and sleeping pills are prescribed to combat confusional arousal. The underlying causes of the confusional arousal must be treated to get rid of it.

Tips to beat confusional arousal

  • Stop consuming alcohol
  • Get proper sleep for eight hours

Nocturnal Enuresis

It is the involuntary urination that happens at night while sleeping. It is also known as bedwetting. It is not a major concern and very common among children.


Though doctors don’t know the exact cause of enuresis, they have some theories. There are various conditions that may cause enuresis. Those are

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Inability to control bladder
  • Chronic constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Caffeine
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Psychological problems

Signs and symptoms

  • Wetting bed with urine at nights
  • Not recognizing when the bladder is full

The victims

It affects men and women both who have urinary issues. It is fairly common among children.


Talk to your doctor if you experience nocturnal enuresis. The doctor will first do a physical examination and then will ask you about your medical history. He may also ask you about your sleeping pattern, bowel movement and urinary problems (if you have any). Usually, the initial exam includes urinalysis and urine culture. In these tests, urine is examined for signs of disease.


Based on the diagnosis the doctor will treat your nocturnal enuresis. If there is any other disease that is causing bedwetting at nights, the doctor will first address the underlying issue. If the medical history and urine test report come negative the doctor will follow behavioral approaches. Behavioral approaches like bedwetting alarm and visualization techniques can be used. Sometimes doctors sometimes prescribe ADH decrease urine accumulation during the night. Other medications relax the bladder, allowing it to hold more pee.

Tips to beat enuresis

  • Decrease fluid intake before going to bed
  • Urinate fully just before sleeping time
  • If possible keep an alarm to wake up at midnight and clear your bladder

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

It occurs when you act out the vivid dreams physically. You often make vocal sounds along with violent arm and leg movement. It is sometimes called dream-enacting behavior.

The victims

It tends to affect the elderly people. People above 50 may experience this disorder. It is very unusual for young people.


Sleep has two distinct states. Those are non-rapid eye movement(NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In a rapid eye movement sleep disorder, you act out your dreams when REM sleep is incomplete or absent. However, the exact cause of rapid eye movement sleep disorder is still not known. It is associated with many other neurological conditions. Alcohol or sedative-hypnotic withdrawal and intake of antidepressants may cause RBD.

Signs and symptoms

  • Dream-enacting behaviors
  • It may include punching, kicking, leaping, or jumping from bed while still asleep.


The doctor will ask you about your medical history. The doctor will do a full exam. Neurologic exam is the most common test for RBD. However, many underlying neurologic causes like Parkinson disease, such as hand tremor at rest, slowness in a drive, and muscle rigorousness should also be considered to diagnose REM sleep behavior disorder.
Tests will be needed if your medical exam shows something abnormal. People with RBD are at risk for other sleep disorders. The doctor may ask you to take polysomnogram test to record your brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing while you are asleep. It also records how your arms and legs move. This shows if there are other disorders that are related to your sleep problems.


A combination of medications and lifestyle changes can be used to treat RBD. Clonazepam is a widely used medication that is used to treat RBD. Bedroom safety precautions must be taken to avoid unpleasant incidences during episodes of RBD.

Tips to beat RBD

  • Avoid alcohol intake
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Stay under regular monitoring for any neurologic symptoms
  • Treat other sleep-related disorders that can lead to RBD
  • Avoid medications that increase the incidence of RBD

Sleep-related movement disorder

Sleep-related movement disorders are generally simple and monophasic movement. The movement seen in this category of disorders differ from movement seen in other sleep disorders. For example, the movement seen in sleepwalking is complex.

Types of sleep-related movement disorder

There are many types of sleep-related movement disorder. They are listed below:

  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
  • Sleep-Related Leg Cramps
  • Sleep-Related Bruxism (SB)
  • Sleep Starts (Hypnic Jerks)
  • Sleep-Related Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD)
  • Benign Sleep Myoclonus of Infancy

Here in this article, we will try focus on three types of sleep-related movement disorder that is of great importance. They are Sleep-Related Bruxism (SB), Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).


Sleep-Related Bruxism (SB)

It is the nocturnal tooth grinding during sleep. Bruxism is the medical term for teeth clenching during sleep. It is fairly common among individuals. If it happens occasionally it is not harmful. But regular episodes can cause tooth decay, facial pain, and disturbed sleep.


  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal bite
  • Crooked teeth
  • Other sleep disorders like sleep apnea
  • Genetic

The victims

It can affect people of all ages and all sexes. Bruxism runs in families. So, genes play a major role here.

Signs and symptoms

  • A constant headache upon waking up
  • Sore Jaw
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Complaints from your partner
  • Neck pain
  • Facial pain
  • Tooth pain and increased sensitivity
  • Locked Jaw


If you see the symptoms of bruxism consult a dentist first. Your dentist may ask you to visit several times to check the progress of the tooth decay. He will diagnose based on the symptoms that you face and will also evaluate your dental health. Your dentist will check the tenderness in your jaw muscles. You may have to undergo X-rays to determine the damage inside of your cheeks.


Treatment is not necessary to get rid of bruxism unless it is severe. Treatment options include dental approaches, therapies, and certain medications. Dental approaches are taken to prevent tooth damage. Certain medications are prescribed to lessen the jaw pain and to relax muscles.

Tips to beat bruxism

  • Avoid intaking caffeine
  • Cut down alcohol consumption
  • Pay attention to your activities. If you find yourself clenching stop immediately. This will reduce the habit of clenching.
  • Try relaxing your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm cloth against your cheek.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)

It is disorder in which you move your limbs involuntarily during sleep. It lasts for 20 to 40 seconds. These are brief muscle twitches or jerking movements of the leg. They are often grouped into episodes that occur at almost regular intervals of 4 to 90 seconds. The previous name for periodic limb movement disorder is nocturnal myoclonus.


The exact cause of periodic limb movement disorder is not known yet. Scientists believe that they are due to complications in the nervous system.

The victims

Four to eleven percent of the general population suffers from periodic limb movement disorder. It is more common among the elderly population. The statistics rise up to 58 percent when it comes to elderly population. As you age your chances of getting this disorder increases.

Signs and symptoms

  • Jerking movements during sleep
  • The movements are repetitive
  • Sleep disruption
  • Upward flexing of the feet
  • Muscle twitches
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Daytime fatigue


The doctor will first perform a thorough physical examination. He will ask you about your medical history. He may ask you to manage a sleep diary. Based on your words he will perform polysomnography test to record your brain waves, heartbeat, breathing, and also your leg and arm movements. The doctor may also ask you to wear an actigraph. But actigraphy alone should not be used for diagnostic decisions. It requires polysomnographic confirmation along with the exclusion of other causes of sleep disturbances to diagnose periodic limb movement disorder.


There are many medications that are proven to be effective to treat periodic limb movement disorder. L-dopa and dopamine agonists are considered as the first-line treatments for periodic limb movement disorder. Anticonvulsant agents are given to reduce muscle contractions.


Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

It occurs when you have strong urge to move your leg repeatedly. It causes an uncomfortable sensation in your legs, so you get a “creepy crawly” feeling in your legs. Since it interferes with sleep it is also called a sleep disorder.

The Victims

It affects both men and women, but it is more common among women. It can happen at any age. People who are severely affected are usually elderly people.


There is no specified cause known for this disorder. However, doctors suspect that genes play a role. Other factors associated with the development of Restless Legs Syndrome are:

  • Chronic diseases- medical conditions like iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy often lead to Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Medications- medications like antidepressants and cold and allergy medications can also be the cause.
  • Pregnancy- some women face Restless Legs Syndrome in the last trimester of the pregnancy. The problem goes away after delivering the child.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Tingling or crawling sensations occur usually in the legs
  • Irresistible urge to move the limbs
  • Restlessness
  • Worsening of symptoms in the evening
  • It can be associated with periodic limb movements disorder


There is no specific treatment for restless legs syndrome. The doctor may ask you to manage a diary. Depending on your sleeping pattern and your sufferings the doctors will ensure the incidence of this disorder.


There is no cure for restless legs syndrome. However, certain treatments can alleviate the symptoms of this disorder. Dopamine agonist drugs and pramipexole (Mirapex) can be very effective to treat restless legs syndrome.

Tips to beat Restless Legs Syndrome

  • Having frequent leg massages
  • Hot baths before bedtime
  • Ice packs can be applied to the legs
  • Good sleeping habits
  • Use of a vibrating pad called Relaxis


You may face sleeping difficulty at times. If difficulty in sleeping continues for months, you should consult a doctor to get the proper idea. As soon as your doctor identifies the disorder, don’t delay starting your treatment. A sleep disorder can affect you personally and professionally. So, look for the symptoms and seek help from specialist until this sleeping difficulty can harm your life further.

Read also: How Much Sleep Does a Person Need?