While many folks across the United States experience occasional bouts of sleeplessness, chronic disturbances lasting several weeks or more each year are reportedly on the rise. According to the American Sleep Association, anywhere between 50-70 million U.S. adults suffer from sleep disorders that consistently impact their daily waking lives.
What exactly are these impacts? They can range from things as seemingly insignificant as fatigue and impaired productivity throughout the day all the way to serious issues like causing major accidents at work.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the most commons causes for different sleep disorders as well as information to better understand them. For some quick advice, feel free to jump to the following resources.
- Sleep Disorders Center
- Overview of Sleep Disorders
- Common Sleep Disorders
- Basic Sleep Problems in Children
Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.
Genetics and Neurological Issues
Some of the most challenging sleep problems come from genetic and neurological sources. A relatively small number of people are believed to be genetically predisposed to sleep disorders like insomnia, presenting as frequent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders (PDF)
- Directory of Sleep Problems and Contributing Factors
- Understanding Fatal Familial Insomnia
Psychiatric issues can be the source of sleep disturbances. Many people who suffer from some form of anxiety disorder also have difficulty sleeping. Even in the relatively safe and protected environment of the bedroom, anxiety can make it difficult to “turn off” the constant chatter of thoughts in the brain and fall asleep promptly.
- The Science of Sleeplessness
- Could Insomnia Be Mistaken for ADHD?
- Symptoms, Treatment, and Help for Sleeping Disorders
- Key Sleep Disorders to Know About
Medical and Pain-Related Issues
A wide range of medical conditions can create temporary sleep disturbances or worsen chronic sleep disorders that already exist. Medical conditions that cause ongoing pain, no matter where it is centered in the body, can make it difficult to fall asleep, even if your mattress is fantastically comfortable.
- Sleep Disturbances in Cancer Patients
- Sleep Disorders and Therapy Information
- Stanford Center for Sleep Disorder Research
- University of Chicago Sleep Disorders Center
Many sleep experts believe that those who are facing significant, ongoing sleep problems should start their search for the cause within the sleep environment. For example, the bedroom should be completely dark, so dark that it is impossible to see your hand in front of your face.
Stress, diet, and the use of drugs or alcohol can result in difficulty sleeping. Stress releases a variety of hormones, including cortisol, that are related to the “fight or flight” response and make it hard to relax when it is time to fall asleep. To deal with stress, set aside some time each night for relaxing breathing exercises, movement, and meditation. By incorporating this into your calendar or planner ahead of time, you can turn the focus on you and your well-being without worrying about it encroaching on your busy schedule.
- Stress and Anxiety Interfere with Sleep
- Relationship Between Stress and Sleep
- Eating to Sleep Well
- How Alcohol Affects Sleep Quality