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Common Sleep Disorders

Doctor's Appointment

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night's sleep, you might have sleep apnea.


Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common problem we treat in our sleep clinics. Snoring, choking, gasping for breath, or stopped breathing during sleep are typical symptoms noticed by bed partners. Fatigue, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and frequent awakenings for urination are common symptoms of the patient. Many health issues are associated with untreated sleep apnea and severe untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with 5 of the 10 most common causes of death. Those include heart attack, stroke, diabetes, accidental death (usually falling asleep driving), and cancer. 


Insomnia is the most common sleep problem for which patients go to see their physicians. It can manifest with difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Multiple factors can contribute to the problem and include medical disorders, medication side effects, bad sleep habits, and just the stressors of life. Too often, the remedy prescribed is just a pill taken to fall asleep. Unfortunately, that usually means ignoring the causative factor and resulting in only short term benefit or even more long term problems. Treating insomnia, particularly chronic, can be difficult and requires more than just a pill.

Abnormal Sleep Behavior

Sleepwalking, talking in sleep, bed wetting, or night terrors are not uncommon and most know someone or have a family member who does. Acting out dreams, eating during sleep, and sleep related seizures are more serious issues and could be more consequential to one’s health. Obviously, this can be frightening to the bed partner as well. Often such behavior during sleep can be precipitated by another sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Sleep evaluation is recommended when such behavior is occurring regularly during sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome

This common problem is manifested by an unbearable urge to move your legs. It most often occurs while sitting still usually in the evening or just before bedtime. It has been called the “marching syndrome” because of the urge to get up and walk it out. It can be hereditary but also caused by medications, deficiency of iron, or other medical problems like neuropathy, or chronic kidney disease. It is also frequently associated with a condition called periodic limb movement disorder. This rhythmic movement of legs during sleep cause sleep disruption and are associated with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.


This is a disorder of profound sleepiness that usually begins in the teenage years or early adulthood. Though, not always, it can be hereditary and seen in other family members or generationally. This disorder has unusual symptoms related to irregular ties with dream sleep. This could be like dreaming right as you fall asleep, having scary hallucinations as you fall asleep or awake, or the sensation of feeling paralyzed as you fall asleep or awake. You can even have subtle or dramatic muscle weakness precipitated by emotions like laughter or anger while awake. Sleepiness, however, is its most common manifestation and its greatest danger.

Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Children, like adults, have problems with sleep. We evaluate and treat school-age children for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, and restless legs. Interestingly, up to 50% of children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder may have an underlying sleep disorder like narcolepsy or sleep apnea. If your child is not doing well in school or doesn’t sleep well, a sleep disorder could be present. A good night’s sleep is so important to the healthy growth and development of a child.

Think you may have a sleep disorder?

If you have any concerns about the quality of your sleep and its relationship to your health, then you should at least speak with your primary care provider about whether sleep evaluation is indicated. Many health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, recurrent headaches, depression, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, irregular heart rhythms, gout, and insomnia can be associated with untreated sleep apnea.

If you wake up just as tired as you were when you went to bed, or just “tired of being tired”, yes, you need a sleep evaluation. When your bed partner tells you that you stop breathing or gasping in your sleep, listen to them because it likely means you have sleep apnea. If you are embarrassed by falling asleep in front of others or fighting sleepiness while you are driving, you need an evaluation. Don’t put off something that can improve your quality of life or even save your life or the lives of others. 

Step One: Take a look at the description of the common sleep disorders below. Do one of these match your symptoms?

Step Two: Evaluate yourself using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Simply download the PDF and fill it out.

Step Three: If you score a 10 or higher, please contact us for an evaluation with one of our physicians.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale
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