The Complete Guide To Sleep Disorders

There are over 70 types of sleeping disorders out there and more than 70 million Americans suffering from them, and many of those people don’t even know they have them. From sleep walking to sleep eating to restless legs and teeth grinding, there’s a lot of information to process, so we want to make sure you have your facts straight.

We’ve scoured the Internet and found the best resources available on sleep disorders. This article provides sleep disorder facts, descriptions of common sleep disorders, and several resources for those interested in learning more.


Quick Facts
Common Sleep Disorders
Print Resources
Resources Discussing Lack of Sleep and Insomnia
Resources on Narcolepsy
Resources on Sleep Apnea
Resources on Sleep Disorder Treatment
General Information on Sleep Disorders

Quick Facts

  • 68% of shift workers in the US report problems sleeping. (Ingham Regional Medical Center)
  • About 20% of the population in the US suffers from sleep apnea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping. (SleepApneaInfo.com)
  • Fatigue is estimated to be a factor in one out of six lethal road accidents. (The National Sleep Research Project)
  • Getting too little sleep can affect weight. (WebMD)
  • In the US, the average woman sleeps for only 6.5 hours per night. (DrDonnica.com)
  • On average, teenagers need about nine hours of sleep per night. (Palo Alto Medical Foundation)
  • Sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of diabetes. (MedPage Today)
  • Sleep is vital for proper nervous and immune system function, learning, cell growth, and the ability to function mentally and physically. (Heathcommunities.com)
  • There are over 70 types of sleep disorders, falling into three categories: lack of sleep, disturbed sleep, and excessive sleep. (Heathcommunities.com)

Common Sleep Disorders

  • Hypersomnia – Hypersomnia is defined as excessive nighttime sleep or daytime sleepiness. People with this disorder have an uncontrollable desire to take several naps during the day, including during a meal, while at work, or while speaking with others. This disorder normally starts to occur during late childhood or early adulthood.
  • Insomnia – Insomnia is characterized by the difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or a combination of the two. About 30% to 50% of people experience some degree of insomnia. Woman experience higher rates of insomnia, as do alcoholics, mental health patients, people under stress, and people in lower socioeconomic groups.
  • Narcolepsy – Narcolepsy is characterized by abnormal patterns in rapid eye movement sleep, as well as irregularities in the sleep/wake cycle. The three major symptoms are excessive daytime sleepiness, abnormal REM sleep, and cataplexy, which is a loss of muscle tone caused by strong emotions. Other less common symptoms include hypnogogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis.
  • Night Sweats – Night sweats are characterized by extreme sweating while sleeping that is unrelated to the temperature of the sleeping environment. It can be caused by menopause, cancer, infections, as well as other medical problems, and some medications.
  • Night Terrors – Night terrors are an intensified version of nightmares, occurring during non-REM sleep, as opposed to nightmares which occur during REM sleep. It is most common in children between the ages of 3 and 12. They can be caused by fear, medications, stress, or sleep deprivation.
  • Nocturnal Enuresis – Nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting, is classified by the involuntary loss of urine while sleeping. Primary nocturnal enuresis is when children have a consistently recurring problem, while secondary nocturnal enuresis is if the child experiences bedwetting after six months without problem.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome – This disorder is classified by an irresistible urge to move the legs when resting or lying down. It is estimated that 12 million Americans suffer from this neurological disorder. The vast majority of sufferers will also experience periodic limb movement disorder, a jerking or twitching of the legs during sleep.
  • Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in the breath while sleeping. There are three categories: central, obstructive, and mixed. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t activate the breathing muscles properly. Obstructive apnea refers to a hindrance in the airway, and mixed is a combination of central and obstructive apnea.
  • Sleep Eating – Sleep eating is the act of sleepwalking combined with nocturnal overeating. It is most common in younger women, and about 1% to 3% of the population is affected. There is a high concurrence rate between sleep eating and other eating disorders.
  • Sleepwalking – Sleepwalking is defined as walking around or performing other types of complex actions while sleeping. It is most common in children, although about 4% of adults experience episodes of sleepwalking as well. Men are more likely than women to be aggressive and violent while sleepwalking or being awoken during an episode.
  • Snoring – Snoring is caused by turbulent air flow which vibrates tissues in the upper airway. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and being overweight are the main reasons for snoring. People who snore regularly are about five times more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and high cholesterol than people who snore only occasionally.
  • Teeth Grinding – Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can be caused mentally by stress and anxiety, or physically by having a missing tooth, crooked teeth, or an irregular bite. Sufferers can wake up with a headache or a jaw ache after a night of teeth grinding. Prolonged bruxism can cause severe damage to teeth and the need for dental work.

Top Print Resources for Sleeping Disorders

Resources Discussing Lack of Sleep and Insomnia

  • Google Health: Google Health’s section on insomnia has information on symptoms, treatment options, causes, tests and diagnosis, outlook, complications, and when you should contact a doctor when dealing with your insomnia.
  • Lack of Sleep (Lack Of Sleeping): This site offers advice on getting enough sleep for those suffering from sleep deprivation. They cover side effects of insufficient sleep, tips on how to fall asleep, and a self-assessment tool.
  • Mayo Clinc: The Mayo Clinic has a definition of insomnia, information on symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, tests, treatments, and alternative medicine, as well as info on how to prepare for your appointment and lifestyle and home remedies.
  • Sleep Disorders Talk: Here you will find an assortment of articles on insomnia, sleep apnea, and natural remedies.
  • Sleep Insomnia: This site hosts a collection of articles, with topics ranging from earplugs to insomnia side effects and snoring.
  • Sleep Disorders Information and Treatment (sleeping-with-a-sleeping-disorder.com): This all-inclusive site publishes facts on snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, and disorders affecting children. They also review several types of sleeping aides and products, especially regarding melatonin.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center: The University of Maryland Medical Center has a great information on the basics insomnia, including signs and symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnosis, medications, nutrition and dietary supplements, and other considerations for those suffering from insomnia.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: The official National Institute of Health’s page on insomnia covers causes, who is at risk, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, key points, and helpful links to learn more information on the condition.
  • WebMD: WebMD lists symptoms and causes of insomnia, available diagnosis and tests, treatment and care, how to live and manage insomnia, and available and current support and resources available for those suffering with insomnia.
  • WomensHealth.gov: The U.S. Department of Health and Services’ site for females’ health has an extensive frequently asked questions section that covers what insomnia is, what are different types of insomnia, how insomnia is diagnosed and treated, and what individuals can do to sleep better at night.

Resources on Narcolepsy

  • Google Health: Google Health’s section on narcolepsy covers the symptoms, treatment options, causes, available tests and diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, and complications of narcolepsy.
  • Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic offers information on narcolepsy, including a list of symptoms, causes, complications, how you should prepare for your appointment, tests and diagnosis, treatment and drugs, lifestyle and home remedies, and coping and support.
  • MedicineNet.com: MedicineNet.com’s section on narcolepsy covers what narcolepsy is, how common it is, what the symptoms are, treatment options, what the future of narcolepsy is, how to get more information, and much more.
  • Medline Plus: Medline Plus’ section on narcolepsy has information on causes, symptoms, exams and tests, treatment options, outlook, possible complications, when to contact a medical profession, and alternate names.
  • Narcolepsy Network: This site is hosted by a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support for people with narcolepsy. There is a news section, a fact page, links to other resources, and ways to get involved in raising awareness about narcolepsy.
  • NINDS Narcolepsy Information Page: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has an extensive section on narcolepsy. It covers what narcolepsy is, the treatments, the prognosis, what research is being done, clinical trials, and organizations combating the condition.
  • Stanford School of Medicine: Stanford’s Center for Narcolepsy has information on research updates being done by the University, new medications, the history of both the organization and narcolepsy, and a section covering the epidemiology, socio-economic impact, symptoms, and diagnosis process of narcolepsy.
  • University of Maryland Medical CenterUniversity of Maryland Medical Center has an introduction, information on primary symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, diagnosis, and treatment options.
  • WebMDWebMD has information on what causes narcolepsy, a breakdown of the symptoms of narcolepsy, diagnosis and treatment options, the day-to-day of managing your symptoms, and an extensive section on support and resources.

Resources on Sleep Apnea

  • American Sleep Apnea Association: The ASAA provides several resources for individuals to learn more about the often undiagnosed sleep apnea. Information includes books, publications, brochures, videos, and links. The site also has information on locating support groups, forums, and donating money.
  • Apnea Treatment Guide: The Apnea Treatment Guide covers specific information on how to treat and recover from sleep apnea. The site lists symptoms, types of treatment, and side effects. The site also has a blog.
  • Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic, as always, has great information on the condition. Sections include information on symptoms, causes, complications, preparing for your appointment, tests and diagnosis, treatments and drugs, and alternative medicine options.
  • Medline Plus: Medline Plus, which is also available in Spanish, has basic information on sleep apnea, including overviews, latest news, diagnosis and symptoms, treatment options, and information on current research being done to help those with sleep apnea.
  • SleepApneaInfo.com: This site offers a frequently asked questions page, definitions of sleep apnea, a self-assessment test, facts, news, and research.
  • Stanford University: The Stanford University site on on sleep apnea has information on symptoms, treatment, and recent news, as well as listings of current articles, reviews of recent research conducted on sleep apnea, and much more.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: This Federal site gives an overview of sleep apnea, other names it goes by, causes, people at risk, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, an overview of the hardships of living with sleep apnea, and relevant links for those suffering from the condition.

Resources on Sleep Disorder Treatment

  • My Sleep Disorder Remedy Center (SleepDisorderRemedy.net): This site supplies facts about causes, types, and symptoms of sleeping disorders. There are also numerous articles written on different remedies.
  • SleepCenters.org: This site provides a search engine for people looking to undergo a sleep study. All centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They also publish articles on topics relating to sleep health.
  • Talk About Sleep: This site seeks to provide support for sleep disorder patients, their loved ones, and professionals in the field. You can read message boards, chat about sleep problems, and read about a host of sleep disorders, including insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea.

General Information on Sleep Disorders

  • Neurology Channel (Healthcommunities.com)
    : This site provides information on sleep stages, types and causes of sleep disorders, treatment, and a neurologist search engine.
  • Sleep Disorders (Merck): This scientific, well-written guide provides information on several sleep disorder categories. You will find diagrams as well as advice on diagnoses and treatments.
  • Sleep Disorders Center (University of Maryland Medical Center): This site provides information on common sleeping disorders, treatment of problems, sleep studies, and self-diagnostic tests and quizzes.
  • Sleep Disorders Health Center (WebMD): This trusted brand covers a plethora of information on topics relating to sleep disorders. There are articles, forums, symptoms, diagnoses, prognoses, and more to review.
  • SleepDeprivation.com: This well-designed site offers material regarding causes, effects, and treatments of sleep disorders. There is also a page dedicated to disorders in the news, and an extensive archive to search through.
  • SleepEducation.com: This site is maintained by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, experts in the field of sleep disorders and medicine. This site is a great source for people wanting to learn about sleep research, disorders, and treatments. You can also take a quiz or find a sleep center near you.
  • Sleepnet.com: Here you will find information on popular sleep disorders, links to resources, sleep tests to self diagnose, and a forum to discuss problems with other sufferers.
  • Sound Sleeping: This 3-year-old site offers several articles and guides written by various authors. Included is an extensive list of sleeping disorders along with descriptions.