A sleep disorder, or somnipathy, is a medical disorder of an individual's sleep patterns. Some sleep disorders are severe enough to interfere with normal physical, mental, social and emotional functioning. Polysomnography and actigraphy are tests commonly ordered for diagnosing sleep disorders.
Sleep disorders are broadly classified into dyssomnias, parasomnias, circadian rhythm sleep disorders involving the timing of sleep, and other disorders including ones caused by medical or psychological conditions. When a person struggles to fall asleep and/or stay asleep with no obvious cause, it is referred to as insomnia, the most common sleep disorder. Others include sleep apnea, narcolepsy and hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness at inappropriate times), sleeping sickness (disruption of sleep cycle due to infection), sleepwalking, and night terrors.
Sleep disruptions can be caused by various issues, including teeth grinding (bruxism) and night terrors. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.Primary sleep disorders are common in both children and adults. However, there is a significant lack of awareness in children with sleep disorders, due to most cases being unidentified. Several common factors involved in the onset of a sleep disorder include increased medication use, age-related changes in circadian rhythms, environmental changes, lifestyle changes, pre-diagnosed physiological problems, or stress. Among the elderly, the risk of developing sleep disordered breathing, periodic limb movements, restless legs syndrome, REM sleep behavior disorders, insomnia, and circadian rhythm disturbances is especially increased.
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