List of Sleep Disorders

There are over 80 different sleep disorders that exist, although the actual number will vary based on which medical classification system is called upon.

The majority of medical professionals and sleep experts will use either one of these two major sleep classification system to identify a specified sleep disorder:

  1. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD)
  2. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders is the most widely used diagnostic manual in the world. It is the manual that is most used by medical professionals and sleep experts. It is a collaborative effort from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Latin American, European and Japanese research societies that focus on sleep disorders.

The most up to date manual is named the “ICSD-3” which was released in 2014.  This new manual now has 6 primary categories of sleep disorders rather than the old manual which only had 4 different categories.

On this page, you will find a synopsis of the 6 primary categories from the ICSD-3 with information that ranges from sleep disorders that are common and sleep disorders that are not so common.

#1. Insomnia

The ICSD-3 manual, the category of insomnia was changed. An example is that the notion of primary and secondary insomnia have been dismissed.

The manual defines insomnia as:

“a  persistent difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep, and results in some form of daytime impairment”

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Learn more about insomnia

#2. Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that happens when the upper airway becomes repeatedly blocked during sleep.

The airflow can either be reduced or completely stopped.

This sleep disorder has pauses when  breathing or breathing lightly.

These pauses are known as “apneas” which have a duration of either a few seconds to a few minutes. Once a person resumes breathing again they will make a gasp, choke, or snore type of noise.

People who have sleep apnea often times experience a lower quality of sleep. Excessive daytime sleepiness is associated with this sleep disorder which is normal to most people who have it.

The majority of people with this disorder are not aware of the fact that they suffer from sleep apnea.  Someone else such as your roommates or your partner often notice the problem for you.

There are two major types of sleep apnea which are central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.

Learn more about sleep apnea

Snoring

Snoring is common sleep problem. You probably know somebody who snores when they sleep. An estimated 40 to 45% of adults snore.

There are also many people who are affected when their roommate, family member, or partner snores at night.

Even though you snore, that is not necessarily an indicator that you have a sleep disorder.

Actually, it is the level to which snoring affects your breathing and the quality of sleep you receive will determine if it is a serious problem or not.

Learn more about snoring

Catathrenia (also known as nocturnal growling)

Catathrenia is a rare sleep disorder that has no definitive treatment. A person who has catathrenia also referred to as a nocturnal growler. They will make a loud sound when exhaling.

This sleep disorder is not to be mixed up with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

The noise that a nocturnal growler makes can be disturbing to your roommates, partner, and other family members. Often times the noise does not wake up the person who is creating it.

Learn more about catathrenia

3. Central Disorders Of Hypersomnolence

Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Kleine-Levin Syndrome is a rare sleep disorder and one that most people are not familiar with. This sleep disorder causes a person to have periods of time where they are asleep most of the day and night.

This disorder can have a duration of a few days, to weeks, and even longer. During these time periods are intervals where a person is completely normal.

A person with this disorder will wake up for small amounts of time from their sleepy stage to eat or use the lavatory.

The behavior that takes place during their waking moments is often very unusual. For example, they might eat an excessive amount of food or be confused. In some cases, the person will lack inhibition.

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Learn more kleine-levin syndrome

Narcolepsy

Out of all the sleep disorders in this category, narcolepsy is the most widely known of this type. The cause of this sleep disorder is a defect in a portion of the brain. This defect causes excessive daytime sleepiness in a person with them falling asleep during the daytime hours.

These periods of falling asleep often happened at the most inopportune times, such as when attending school.

Those who have this disorder often can experience collapse (also known as cataplexy) and unanticipated muscle relaxation.

The other symptoms include hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis.

Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is distinguished by daytime sleepiness and excessive sleepiness. In addition, they have a difficult time waking up in the morning ever after getting a good night’s sleep.

People who suffer from this disorder can experience confusional arousals which is also referred to as “sleep drunkenness”. This means that they will feel confused when they wake up.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is not so much a sleep disorder rather it is better seen as a symptom. This is different from feeling tired because of a terrible night’s sleep.

People who suffer often bored, do not make an effort to correct the problem, and do not seek help from a medical professional. One of the causes of excessive daytime sleepiness are bad  habits such as staying up too late or a poor diet.

This can negatively affect how a person function throughout their normal day to day routine.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness can include:

  1. Inclined to  falling asleep during the day
  2. Lacking energy and feeling tired
  3. Inclined to frequently taking naps during the day
  4. Need to sleep longer at night and having difficulty waking up

4. Circadian Rhythm Sleep Wake Disorders

Circadian rhythm disorders are a type of sleep disorder that throw your internal body clock out of its normal pattern.

These types of disorders are often mixed up with insomnia. Keep in mind that there is a difference between circadian rhythm sleep wake disorders and insomnia.

These disorders are often treated by either light therapy, melatonin supplements, or gradually conditioning the time you sleep.

Alarm clock for circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

Learn more about circadian rhythm sleep wake disorder

Jet Lag

Jet lag happens you travel across different time zones. Your biological clock that signals your brain to know when there is daylight gets thrown out of its normal rhythm.

The result is that you will have a harder time going to sleep at their local time as well as having a difficult time waking up at the time that you desire.

This sleep disorder can take anywhere from several days to a week to conquer.

Fortunately, there are measures that you can take before, during and after your travels to minimize the effects.

Learn more about jet lag

Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome

Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome is can be seen as the opposite of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. This sleep disorder happens when a person falls asleep early and wakes up early.

This happens more frequently in elderly people where they have a hard time staying awake in the evening.

However, they also wake up earlier in the morning hours.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome often develops in young people such as teenagers. Those who have this sleep disorder will go to sleep at a later time and wake up at a later time.

These people often are out of rhythm within the normal hours of other people or the rhythm that they desire.

Many people observing this from an outside perspective will often see this as a typical behavior for teenagers. However, the issue here is that they cannot fall asleep and wake up at the time that they need to.

The quality of sleep they are receiving should be fine, but the times that they wake up and go to sleep are off.

This pattern can also be thrown off due to jet lag or changing shift times.

5. Parasomnias

Parainsomnias entails disturbing behaviors and abnormal experiences. These can happen while falling asleep, during sleep cycles, and waking up.

These behaviors and experiences often happen during a person’s childhood. Yet, they can also continue or start into a person’s adulthood.

Some of these sleep disorders are known as arousal disorders and are the most normal forms of parainsomnias. Confusional arousals, sleep walking and sleep terrors fall under this category.

A person will be aroused from a deeper stage of sleep. Then they will appear to be both asleep and awake simultaneously due to their behavior.

Confusional Arousals

Confusional arousals happens when a person wakes up in the middle of the night in a state of confusion. This is typically a mild episode and they fall asleep again without much difficulty.

Children are the most common type of people to have this order, yet this can happen to adults. The behavior that occurs here are not the same complex behaviors that are seen in sleepwalking.

Yet, the person can sit up or do other simple tasks such as stumbling, opening nightstand drawers and turning a lamp on.

This disorder is also referred to as “sleep drunkenness. A person’s behavior can be dangerous to  themselves and others around them. However, this only happens in extreme cases.

Learn more about confusional arousals

Sleep Walking (also referred to as Somnambulism)

Sleepwalking can result in many different behaviors that can vary. Some people will carry out simple
tasks in a calm manner.

Other people will behave in an abnormal way and in some rare cases display behaviors that are destructive or violent. Some people will find that they engage in more dangerous activities such as jumping out of a window.

Sleepwalking is not too common, however there is a possibility to harm yourself and others.

Learn more about sleep walking

Nightmares

Nightmares happen during the rapid eye movement “REM” sleep stage. These can wake up a person up and they will often have a detailed memory of a terrifying or stressful dream.

A person will normally be very alert when waking up with the ability to remember a dream and things that happened during the dream.

There are measures that can be taken to calm down after a nightmare.

Sleep Terrors

Sleep Terrors are also referred to as “night terrors” happens during the non rapid eye movement sleep stage. These can be disturbing because a person wakes up in state of fear or high anxiety.

Normally a person will not recall anything that happened during an episode. In most cases, the person will calm down while still asleep.

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Learn more about nightmares and night terrors

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RSBD)

REM or ‘rapid eye movement” sleep behavior disorder entails that a person is acting out the events in their dreams during sleep.

A person with this sleep disorder will not experience the muscle paralysis that normally accompanies the REM stage of sleep. They have the ability to speak, move their limbs, and act out the events in their dreams.

This can be an issue because there is a chance for injury when acting out a dream.

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Learn more about rem sleep behavior disorder

Sleep Talking

Sleep Talking is also referred to as “somniloquy” is when a person speaks during sleep without that person being aware of it.

The speaking can range from gibberish to mumbling to speaking a conversation. Treatment is typically not required unless it becomes a constant problem.

Learn more about sleep talking

Bedwetting

Bedwetting also known as “nocturnal enuresis” normally happens during a person’s childhood. This happens either when a child has not learned bladder control or they lost control of their bladder.

This has been known to happen to adults as well. If this happens during adulthood, it is caused by another sleep disorder or medical condition.

Exploding Head Syndrome

Exploding Head Syndrome luckily does not involve any type of physical damage or pain, in spite of its alarming name.

A person with this sleep disorder will experience a loud noise inside of their head. This noise can sound like a bomb exploding, a gunshot, shouting and other loud noises.

This sleep disorder can be unsettling for the person who has it. At the current moment, there is no treatment. This disorder is often associated with fatigue and stress, minimizing these factors will help out as well.

Fireworks explosion.

Learn more about exploding head syndrome

Sleep Paralysis

A majority of people will experience sleep paralysis at one point in their lifetime. Sleep paralysis will cause a person not being able to speak or move whether they are falling asleep or waking up.

This disorder has hallucinations that follow it as well such that they will be seeing things such as demons, spirits or another presence that can be seen as evil or malicious.

Some people have what is known as an “out of body experience”. Even though it is innocuous, it can be a very disturbing experience.

Learn more about sleep paralysis

6. Sleep Related Movement Disorders

Hypnic Jerks

This happens to a lot of people, you may have experienced at one point or another the infrequent hypnic jerk while going to sleep.

Hypnic Jerks also known as “sleep starts” are a sudden jolting movement of the body during sleep. This may or may not wake you up. This can feel like a spasm in your body.

To some, this can be alarming and disrupt their sleep. However, hypnic jerks are not very frequent and usually do not cause any harm.

Learn more about hypnic jerks

Bruxism (also known as teeth grinding)

There is an estimated 8% of people who have bruxism and it is known by grinding or clenching teeth while sleeping.

This disorder can result in some people having facial pain, jaw pain, headaches and needing dental repairs. Due to the grinding or clenching noise, this can also cause a disturbance to your roommates or your partner.

This is common among those who drink alcohol or coffee, are smokers and have sleep apnea. Bruxism is also commonly associated with anxiety and stress.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is sleep disorder that involves an enticing urge to move the legs and in some cases the arms.

Strong feelings of discomfort such as cramping, itching, burning, tingling, and skin crawling are also associated with this disorder.

There have been cases where the symptoms can be remedied by bathing their legs, massaging, exercising, or moving.

Learn more about restless legs syndrome

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Periodic limb movement disorder is different from restless legs syndrome. This disorder causes a person to flail or jerk their limbs during sleep. Typically the legs move, yet every so often the arms move as well.

These movements usually does not wake them up, yet this can disturb their quality of sleep. The ending result is daytime sleepiness. A roommate or a partner is more aware of the disorder.

This is different from the normal movement patterns that people typically make while falling asleep.

An example would be the hypnic jerk which is a jolting movement when going to sleep. Periodic limb movement disorder is similar, yet has a longer duration than the hypnic jerks.

Know the different types of sleep disorders

In the beginning of this page it was specified that this is not a complete list of all known sleep disorders. At this point, you should have a better comprehension of the different types of sleep disorder that are out there.

Researching sleep disorders on the web can be a confusing task because other website can possibly be using different classification systems or none at all.

This can result in every website giving a different description of each sleep disorder. The names and types of sleep disorders can change from one location to another.

You will also find that one website will place a sleep disorder in one category and another website will place that same sleep disorder in a different category.

If you potentially have any of these sleep disorders, it is vital that you seek a medical professional. They will provide you guidance, a proper diagnosis, and proper treatment.

Let us explore the world of sleep disorders and learn what interesting facts are waiting to be discovered.

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