Most Common Sleep Disorders: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Every element of your life, including safety, relationships, performance at work and school, thinking, mental health, weight, and the onset of diabetes and heart disease, can be impacted by common sleep disorders. Your quality of life may suffer from inadequate sleep.

While sleep requirements vary slightly between individuals, studies have found that most healthy adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night for optimal performance. Children and teens need even more. In 2018, the University of Western Ontario conducted the world’s largest sleep study. Preliminary results from this study found that people who sleep on average between 7 to 8 hours per night performed better cognitively than those who slept less, or more, than this amount.

Daytime sleepiness and other symptoms may occur from sleep disorders, which affect your sleep quality or prevent you from receiving enough restorative sleep. Everybody occasionally struggles with sleep issues. Yet, the following may indicate a sleep disorder:

  1. You frequently have trouble falling asleep.
  2. Despite getting at least seven hours of sleep the night before, you frequently feel fatigued during the day.
  3. Your capacity to carry out typical daytime activities has been diminished or compromised.

A good night’s sleep is crucial. Lack of sleep can negatively affect academic and professional performance, interpersonal interactions, health, and safety.

Generally, we don’t sleep well

The point is, quality sleep is important. However, the sad reality is that most adults do not get sufficient sleep. A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that 35% of adults rated their sleep as “poor” or “fair,” and 25% reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed at least once in the past 7 days. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even declared insufficient sleep a national health epidemic.

Why you are not sleeping enough

Reasons for insufficient sleep ranges from inconsistent work schedules to electronic usage, to lack of exercise. Some people, however, can’t sleep due to a sleep disorder, which can range from something as common as insomnia to rarer conditions such as REM sleep behavior disorder. Below are 9 of the most common sleep disorders that affect adults.

Most Common Sleep Disorders

1. Insomnia

Causes: Anxiety or depression; physical pain or injuries; high stress levels; drugs or alcohol abuse; and certain medications.

Symptoms: Difficulty falling asleep and then maintaining that sleep. According to WebMD, patients must suffer from insomnia symptoms for at least three months straight to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Treatment: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and certain medication.

Prevalence: About one-third of Americans suffer from insomnia.

The inability to fall asleep or stay asleep is referred to as insomnia. Jet lag, stress, anxiety, hormones, or digestive issues are some of the possible causes. It might also be a sign of another ailment.

Your whole health and quality of life may suffer from insomnia, which may lead to:

  • Depression
  • Focusing issues
  • Intolerance
  • Gaining weight
  • Poor performance at a job or in education

Regrettably, insomnia affects a lot of people. The illness is more common in women and older people.

Typically, insomnia is divided into one of three categories:

  • Chronic insomnia occurs when it occurs frequently for at least a month.
  • Intermittent, as in sporadic cases of sleeplessness.
  • Transitory, occurring for only a few nights at a time.

2. Sleep Apnea

Causes: A partial or complete obstruction of the throat.

Symptoms: Daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and excessively loud snoring. Apnea may cause you to stop breathing multiple times per night which can become very dangerous when mixed with other severe conditions such as obesity.

Treatment: The standard treatment for sleep apnea are CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These machines release a steady stream of air throughout the night to keep a person’s throat open.

Prevalence: About 20% of adults suffer from a mild form of apnea.

Breathing pauses while sleeping is a defining feature of sleep apnea. The body absorbs less oxygen as a result of this significant medical issue. You might wake up in the middle of the night as a result.

There are two types of sleep apnea: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, in which the airway becomes blocked or too small, and 
  • Central sleep apnea, in which the brain’s communication with the muscles that govern breathing is disrupted.

3. Restless Leg Syndrome

Causes: The underlying cause of restless leg syndrome (RLS) is unknown, but experts believe that it may be hereditary. Medication and pregnancy have been known to cause or worsen RLS.

Symptoms: An irresistible urge to move limbs, most commonly the legs. Often occurs after extended periods of rest (i.e. in a car, plane, theatre or bed).

Treatment: Regular exercise; use of warm or cool packs; reduction in caffeine and alcohol intake. For severe cases, medication therapy is prescribed to reduce restlessness.

Prevalence: About 10% of people suffers from RLS, more commonly in women.

RLS is a condition where there is a constant urge to move the legs. Sometimes a tingling in the legs occurs along with this impulse. Even while these signs might appear throughout the day, they are most common at night.

Although the precise origin of RLS isn’t always known, it’s frequently linked to certain medical diseases like Parkinson’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

4. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Causes: The exact cause of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is still unknown, but experts have noted that various degenerative diseases (i.e. Parkinson’s disease and dementia) are associated with RBD.

Symptoms: People with RBD physically act out their dreams, which leads to kicking, punching, jumping and other sudden and intense movements. Some patients will produce noises during sleep such as talking, laughing or shouting.

Treatment: Physical safeguards around your sleeping area, and prescription medication.

Prevalence: Prevalence of RBD is extremely rare. Only approximately 0.5% of the population is affected by this condition.

5. Narcolepsy

Causes: The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown. But patients commonly have low levels of hypocretin, a chemical in the brain that controls REM sleep.

Symptoms: People with narcolepsy suffer with excessive daytime sleepiness—falling asleep without warning, anywhere, anytime. Those with narcolepsy can also suffer from cataplexy, a condition that leads to weakness in muscles and uncontrollable, intense emotions. Other notable symptoms include sleep paralysis, changes in REM sleep and even hallucinations.

Treatment: Since there is no cure for narcolepsy, medications and lifestyle modifications are recommended to manage the symptoms.

Prevalence: About 0.02% of adults worldwide are affected by this condition.

“Sleep attacks” that happen when a person is awake are a hallmark of narcolepsy. This means that you will unexpectedly become drowsy and feel exceedingly exhausted.

The condition can potentially result in sleep paralysis, which could leave you physically immobile as soon as you wake up. Narcolepsy can arise independently, but it’s frequently linked to other neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis.

6. Sleepwalking

Causes: Common triggers for sleepwalking include sleep deprivation, certain medications, and illnesses or fevers.

Symptoms: Sleepwalkers may walk while sleeping, experience sleep terrors, engage in unusual behaviors such as sexual activity or urinating in a closet, and even become violent. The scariest part is they have no control or recollection of doing these inappropriate behaviors.

Treatment: For long-term sleepwalkers, prescription medication is an option to manage the condition. Otherwise, some common ways of combatting isolated sleepwalking incidents are to keep dangerous items out of reach from the bed, set up bells on doors to alert the sleepwalker and others, build a quiet sleep environment and maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Prevalence: Sleepwalking is estimated to affect between 1% to 15% of people – most commonly in children. Experts theorize that it has something to do with brain development.

7. Sleep Terrors

Causes: Sleep terrors can be caused by sleep deprivation, stress, existing disorders such as RLS and sleep apnea, and some medications.

Symptoms: Screaming and shouting, and potentially dangerous movements during sleep. It can be very difficult to calm them down immediately after waking from a sleep terror, and often they have no recollection of what happened in their sleep.

Treatment: Improve sleep environment, manage stress, and—in rare and extreme cases—medication.

Prevalence: Between 1-6% of children and less than 1% of adults suffer from sleep terrors. Those with panic disorders and PTSD are more likely to suffer from this condition.

8. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Causes: Most commonly caused by excessive stress and anxiety. But can also be caused by an abnormal bite or missing teeth, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

Symptoms: Headaches, sore jaw, facial pain and stiffness, and disrupted sleep (for you and your partner).

Treatment: Practice stress and anxiety management, wear a custom-fitted mouth guard, and experiment with different sleep positions.

Prevalence: Between 8% to 31% of people are affected by bruxism.

9. Parasomnias

A group of sleep disorders known as parasomnias induces strange movements and actions while you sleep. They consist of:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleeping speaking
  • Wailing 
  • Nocturnal terrors
  • bedwetting
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth

Causes of Sleep Disorders

Several things can contribute to sleep issues. Although their underlying causes may vary, all sleep disorders have as their common denominator a disruption or exaggeration of the body’s normal cycle of sleep and daytime wakefulness. Eight variables comprise:

  • Physical (such as ulcers).
  • Health (such as asthma).
  • Mental health (such as depression and anxiety disorders).
  • Environmental (such as alcohol).
  • Working the night shift (during this shift, “biological clocks” are thrown off).
  • Genes (narcolepsy is genetic).
  • Drugs (some interfere with sleep).
  • Aging (about half of all persons over 65 have a sleep disturbance of some kind). It is unclear if this is a natural feature of aging or a side effect of the medications that older people frequently use).

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

Depending on the type and degree of the sleeping issue, there are various symptoms. These might differ if another ailment is the cause of the sleep disturbance.

Other common signs of sleep problems include:

  • Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Extreme exhaustion during the day 
  • A strong desire to nap during the day 
  • Strange breathing patterns
  • Irrational or uncomfortable cravings to stir as you sleep
  • Odd movement or other sleep-related sensations
  • Unintended adjustments to your sleep and wake times 
  • agitation or anxiety
  • Less productivity at work or school 
  • Attention issues  
  • Depression 
  • Gaining weight

Treatment of Sleep Disorders

Depending on the nature and underlying cause, many treatments are available for sleep disturbances. Nonetheless, it typically entails a mix of medical interventions and dietary adjustments.

Medical Procedures

Any of the following treatments for sleep disorders could be used:

  • Tranquilizers 
  • Supplements with melatonin
  • Antihistamines or cold remedies
  • Drugs for any underlying medical conditions
  • A breathing apparatus or operation (usually for sleep apnea)
  • A mouthguard (usually for teeth grinding)

Lifestyle Alterations

Your sleep quality can be significantly improved by making lifestyle changes, especially when they are combined with medicinal interventions. You might want to think about:

  • Lowering tension and anxiety by exercising and stretching 
  • Increasing the amount of fish and vegetables in your diet and minimizing the amount of sugar you consume
  • Establishing and maintaining a regular sleep schedule
  • Lessening water intake before sleeping
  • Consuming less caffeine, particularly in the late afternoon or evening
  • Reducing alcohol and tobacco use
  • Consuming smaller, low-carb meals before going to bed
  • Keeping your weight in check with your doctor’s advice.

Having a regular bedtime and wake-up time can also greatly enhance the quality of your sleep. While it may be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, doing so may make it more challenging to wake up and go to sleep during the workweek.

General Tips on Sleeping Better

  1. Maintain body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Maintain a sleep schedule and avoid naps.
  2. Manage exposure to light. Get more sunlight during the day and reduce or avoid light before and during bedtime.
  3. Exercise during the day. Try to finish your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  4. Control what you eat and drink. Avoid big meals and alcohol before bed, and limit caffeine intake.
  5. Wind down before bed. Try deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques.
  6. Improve sleep environment. Keep room dark, cool and quiet, and reserve the bedroom strictly for sleep and sex only.
  7. Learn ways to fall back to sleep. Don’t stress over inability to fall asleep. Focus on relaxation or do some quiet, non-stimulating activities until you’re tired again.
  8. Try natural supplements. Melatonin, valerian root, cannabis and other natural plants are great supplements to help you relax and get better sleep.

Can Kratom Help Me Sleep Better?

Kratom can have different effects depending on the individual, dosage, the strain and other factors. Scientific research on Kratom is ongoing.

In 2017, a review was conducted to confirm the effects of Kratom. Among some users, Kratom was able to relieve anxiety and enhance mood. The research also highlighted that the plant may have sedative effects. Which can help with better sleep.

On the other hand, the research also found that Kratom can produce negative health side effects, primarily withdrawal symptoms. Although these withdrawal symptoms appear to be mild relative to those produced by other “similar substances”.

Interestingly, according to WebMD, many people actually use Kratom to combat pre-existing withdrawal symptoms, anxiety and many other conditions.

It just goes to show that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the uses of Kratom. The best way to find out more about Kratom is to read up on user testimonials on Reddit or Twitter, and conduct our own research online.

Organizations like Kratom Society and American Kratom Association are also good sources for research purposes. 


Do not hesitate to visit your healthcare physician if you have sleep problems. Good sleep is essential to your health and, by extension, your quality of life. Follow the advice of your healthcare practitioner and maintain proper sleep hygiene.