Common Sleep Disorders and What to do About Them

Nearly everyone has a night of poor quality sleep once in awhile, but if the problem persists, you might have a sleep disorder. So what are sleep disorders? Sleep disorders are problems that affect the amount and quality of the sleep an individual gets, often leading to problems with mental and physical health during the day. Over 50 million adults in the U.S. alone have sleep disorders. If you suspect that you are a part of this group, check out what the most common sleep disorders are and how you may be able to resolve them.

Find out the true value of sleep when you check out: Go To Bed! Why Sleep Is the Most Important Part of Your Workout Routine

Common Sleep Disorders — Insomnias

The most common sleep disorders is a group of sleep disorders called insomnias, which is characterized by having trouble either falling asleep, or staying asleep. Acute insomnia is one part of that group. Acute insomnia is usually short-term and typically caused by life events, such as stress, problems at work, or an abundance of travel. Once the underlying issue is solved, acute insomnia should go away on its own.

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep on average for three or more nights per week for at least a three-month period, you might have another common sleep disorder in the insomnia category, this one is called chronic insomnia.

In the case of chronic insomnia, your doctor might prescribe medication to help you sleep, or recommend melatonin if you prefer a natural supplement for better sleep. Your doctor might also advise the reduction of caffeine, avoiding too much light right before bed, and making sure you get some sort of exercise every day.

Want a deeper dive on the different types of insomnias? Check out: Wrestling the Insomnia Demon

Other Common Sleep Disorders – Hypersomnias

Not all common sleep disorders make it hard to sleep. In fact, just the opposite—people with a condition called hypersomnia are overly sleepy. For example, people with narcolepsy feel extremely tired, even in the middle of the day, and they could fall asleep at any time– including while driving or working. My assistant thought she had insomnia, and struggled with trying to get enough sleep for years and was frustrated by feeling exhausted all day, every day. She finally got serious about dealing with the problem and went to a sleep clinic. There, much to her surprise, she was diagnosed with narcolepsy. She was prescribed some medication to help combat her narcolepsy, and had to learn an entire new set of sleeping habits. The good news is that her problem was solved as a result, so do consider exploring a sleep study with your doctor if you feel as though you’re not getting enough sleep and are tired all the time.

Another common sleep disorder is idiopathic hypersomnia, which is characterized by an individual feeling so tired and exhausted that he or she sleeps up to 14 hours per day. Kleine-Levin Syndrome is another common sleep disorder and sufferers experience extreme fatigue for anywhere from a period of a couple of days to up to five weeks in a row more than one time per year.

If you have hypersomnia, your doctor will look for underlying disorders that may be making you overly sleepy. Once you resolve those, the issue should disappear. If there’s no apparent underlying issue, your doctor might prescribe you a stimulant medication to keep you awake and alert during the day. He or she might also recommend natural solutions, such as trying to get to bed earlier every night and avoiding alcohol.

Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders

Some common sleep disorders are actually sleep-related breathing disorders. If you have trouble breathing normally while you sleep, you might have a sleep-related breathing disorder. For example, snoring falls into this category, since the flow of air as you breathe in causes the tissues in your throat to vibrate. If your snoring is particularly loud and is accompanied by gasping or choking, you could have obstructive sleep apnea, which is another common sleep disorder, combined with a related breathing disorder. With this disorder, obstructions in your airway cause you to stop breathing as you sleep, which in turn often lowers the quality of your sleep, so you feel tired when you wake up.

One of the most popular treatments for all-too common sleep disorder is a continuous positive airway pressure—or CPAP—device. This is basically a breathing mask that is worn at night and ensures regular air pressure to the airways, which should stop breathing issues. Other treatments for breathing-related sleep disorders may include lifestyle changes, tongue retaining mouthpieces, and surgery.

Other Common Sleep Disorders — Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders

Other common sleep disorders have to do with our individual circadian rhythms, which are different for everyone. For instance, if you never seem able to get to sleep around the same time most people go to bed, you might have a circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder. For instance, with a delayed sleep-wake phase, your circadian rhythm is off by about two hours, which means you go to sleep a couple hours later than most people and wake up a couple hours later, too. On the other hand, if you always go to sleep and wake up a couple hours earlier than most people, you might have an advanced sleep-wake phase. And if you don’t have a regular sleep pattern at all, you might have an irregular sleep-wake rhythm.

Treatment for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders may include bright light therapy, which attempts to reset your circadian rhythm. You may also be advised to take melatonin, or to simply change your schedule so you can try to sleep at a more typical time.


Some common sleep disorders don’t affect a person’s ability to get to sleep, but instead they consist of frustrating wakefulness throughout the night. This describes parasomnias, in which unwanted events are experienced while sleeping. For example, if you’re experiencing confusional arousals, you might wake up wondering where you are and what you’re doing. Sleepwalking is another parasomnia and it’s not unusual for sufferers to get up, walk around, sometimes even leaving the house, without waking up. Sleep paralysis is another parasomnia, which is when you wake up and are physically unable to move your body for anywhere from seconds to minutes, causing you to not feel in control of your body.

The treatment for parasomnia depends on which type you have. You should work with your doctor to try and identify the condition that’s unique to you and ascertain the underlying cause. Then he or she may prescribe medication, suggest therapy, or advise a lifestyle change, such as less caffeine and an earlier bedtime.

Sleep Movement Disorders

If you move involuntarily while you sleep, you might have a common sleep disorder called sleep movement disorder. Bruxism is one example, in which the grinding or clenching of teeth while sleeping. There’s also Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), which makes your legs feel like they burn or itch inside unless you move them—making it hard to sleep. You might also have periodic limb movements, in which your muscles move repetitively and uncontrollably while you’re in bed.

If you’re diagnosed with a sleep movement disorder, your doctor may suggest that you cut out or reduce caffeine, since this substance can make this disorder worse. You might also need medication or therapy to stop uncontrollable movements while you sleep.

Midlife and Menopause-Related Sleep Issues

If you’re a woman at midlife and experiencing perimenopause or menopause, chances are good your sleep is affected in some way or another. It could be random wakefulness during the night, night sweats, or an inability to get to sleep in general. Talk with your physician about these things as there are definitely things you can do that will help. For me, I take a daily dose of progesterone at night, which helps get me to sleep, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been beta testing FitFormula’s new Sleep Formula, which will be available sometime in August. Between the two of those things, I have no trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, which makes me a happy camper.

It also helps to find the right kind of sleepwear—and that’s where our friend, Haralee Weintraub comes in. Founded in 2004, Haralee, Cool Garments for Hot Women, is a sleepwear company created to serve women who have night sweats. The wicking fabric in Haralee garments quickly transports sweat away from the body, making for a cool solution for hot women. We love Haralee, her story, and her company’s products, and if you want to stay dry and comfortable at night, definitely check her line out. Here’s one of her darling nightgowns, and she’s got a wide variety of pajamas, nightgowns, and pillowcases that you will love.

 common sleep disorders

Treating Sleep Disorders

Now that you know what the most common sleep disorders are—and how they’re treated—you should make an appointment with your doctor to talk more about the sleep issues you’re experiencing and get some professional help resolving them. Fortunately, most sleep disorders can be cured or at least managed, so you don’t need to suffer for years. Go get some help so that you can start getting the good sleep you deserve!

Combat Common Sleep Disorders — Try FitFormula Sleep

As I mentioned earlier, we are super excited to be adding FitFormula Sleep to our product line, and expect it to be available sometime in August. If you’re interested in trying some samples of FitFormula Sleep, we’re offering a limited amount of free samples once they are available. To stay in the know, join our private Facebook Group here, and post there or send us an email at and let us know you’re interested in trying out some samples, and we’ll do our best to get you on the list!

Get more ideas on battling sleep disorders by checking out: 5 Tips To Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Other sources related to this topic:
Avoiding Insomnia: How To Fall Asleep—And Hopefully Stay Asleep
Battling Insomnia? How Yoga Can Help You Sleep
Sleeping Better At Night With Yoga [And Other Things]

The original version of this article was first published on FitFormula.