Sleep Disorders

Head | General Practice | Sleep Disorders (Symptom)


These disorders affect sleep. The most common sleep disorder is probably snoring, although usually not medically significant. Insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking are also sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by a reduction or pause of breathing (airflow) during sleep. It is common among adults but rare among children.


Factors that can cause sleep problems are: physical (for example, ulcers), medical (for example, asthma), psychiatric (for example, depression and anxiety disorders), environmental (for example, alcohol use).

Short-term or acute insomnia can be caused by life stresses, such as job loss or change, death of a loved one, or moving; an illness; or environmental factors, such as light, noise, or extreme temperatures.

Other factors that can interfere with sleep include: genetic basis for narcolepsy, a neurological disorder of sleep regulation that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness, night shift work, medications and aging.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although the diagnosis of sleep apnea is often suspected on the basis of a person's medical history, there are several tests that can be used to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment of sleep apnea can be surgical or nonsurgical. Sleep apnea is a period of time during which breathing stops or is greatly reduced. In simple terms, an apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more.