Sleep Disorder Symptoms

If you are having difficulties sleeping on a regular basis you may want to find out if you have a sleep disorder. There are numerous sleep disorder types – many have sleeping disorder symptoms in common and also some symptoms unique to that disorder. For this reason, accurately diagnosing a sleep disorder may not be straightforward and could require ongoing evaluation by your doctor if your symptoms persist.

If your answer is “yes” to any of the following questions, your sleep problems may be the sign of a sleep disorder. Do you:

  • Find it difficult to stay awake while reading or watching television?
  • Find the need to take a nap during the day?
  • Feel sleepy or irritable during the day?
  • Have regular emotional outbursts?
  • Feel tired and lethargic often?
  • Have problems focusing?

Sleep Disorders and Their Symptoms

If you are having trouble sleeping, there will be symptoms that are often unnoticed at first, and if they are noticed, they may not be immediately associated with a sleep disorder. The following are some of the most common sleep disorders and some of their symptoms:


Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and is the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling rested in the morning. Some of the symptoms that are generally associated with insomnia are:

  • Not performing well at work or school
  • Wanting to sleep during the day
  • Tension headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Low energy
  • Moodiness

There are six types of insomnia, each with different symptoms and characteristics.

  • Transient insomnia: difficulty sleeping lasting only a few nights
  • Short-term insomnia: insomnia symptoms last up to three weeks
  • Chronic insomnia: condition persists more than a month
  • Sleep-onset insomnia: experienced as a delay of more than 30 minutes in falling asleep
  • Sleep-maintenance insomnia: wakefulness later in the night, difficulty returning to sleep
  • Early-morning insomnia: waking before desired time in the morning

Restless Leg Syndrome, RLS

Restless leg syndrome is a disorder that can make sleeping extremely difficult. Those who have RLS find that they must move their legs throughout the night, which interrupts their sleep. Because RLS disrupts sleep, someone with RLS will also exhibit the symptoms of insomnia. Some of the unique symptoms of RLS include:

  • Tingly sensations in the legs
  • Uncontrolled movements in the legs

The sensations ease when legs are moving and the sensations are worse at night and when the person is tired.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a disorder that causes patients to stop breathing during their sleep. It is caused by the throat muscles relaxing during sleep, causing the breathing passage to narrow, thereby blocking the air flow. Breathing can stop as many as hundreds of times each night, and people with these conditions often have the following symptoms:

  • Falling asleep during the day
  • Being woken up by snoring
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Snoring very loudly
  • Not sleeping well
  • Insomnia

Environmental Sleep Disorder

This is a sleep disorder that occurs when the factors in the environment around you disturb your sleep. There are many things that can cause this, including noise, movement in the bed, light, heat, cold, and anything else that may have disrupt sleep. Some of the symptoms of environmental sleep disorders include:

  • Being tired during the day
  • Being easily distracted
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Not being alert
  • Lack of energy
  • Moodiness
  • Insomnia

Other Sleep Disorders

There are many other sleep disorders, each with their own set of specific symptoms. These include:

  • Sleep deprivation – voluntary or involuntary reduction in needed sleep
  • Snoring – loud sounds from mouth and throat during sleep
  • Sleepwalking – performing daytime activities during sleep
  • Narcolepsy – excessive daytime sleepiness, falling asleep during daytime activities
  • Bruxismg – teeth grinding, jaw clenching and grinding teeth sounds at night
  • Jetlag – insomnia related symptoms from changes in time zones
  • Hypersomnia – trouble staying awake during the day
  • Night sweats – waking up covered in sweat
  • Shift work disorder – difficulty sleeping due to changes in shift schedules
  • Sleep paralysis – being frozen and being unable to move when waking up or falling asleep

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may have one of these sleep disorders or another condition. If this is the case, you should consult your doctor to review your symptoms and begin diagnosing the cause of your sleeping difficulty.  Additionally, if you have been diagnosed and your symptoms persist your you may have had a sleep disorder misdiagnosis and you should work with your doctor to determine the true source of your sleeping difficulty


Essential further reading:

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