What are the different types of sleep disorder?
The different types of sleep disorders include:
Each sleep disorder has common symptoms but the way they affect people varies, so two people with the same condition may experience it differently.
- sleep apnoea
- restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD)
- excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS; hypersomnia)
Insomnia is when you find it difficult to get to sleep and/or stay asleep. Problems you may have if you have the condition include:
It’s common to have insomnia for short periods, particularly when you’re going through a stressful time.
- finding it hard to fall or stay asleep
- waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep
- waking up throughout the night
- feeling tired during the day
Sleep apnoea is a condition that often affects men and causes your breathing to sound different while you sleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which makes your breathing stop and start. This happens as your throat relaxes and narrows, which can be due to gaining weight, making it harder to breath.
The most common symptoms of OSA are waking up or slightly waking up frequently during the night, falling asleep during the day, and feeling tired regularly. It can also make you snore, but you may also choke, gasp, or hold your breath in your sleep.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), or Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition affecting the nervous system. People with RLS have overpowering urges to move their legs, usually because of uncomfortable sensations in them.
The symptoms of RLS are more common after you’ve been resting, which means it often affects people when they sleep. You may also twitch or make jerky movements while you sleep which is known as periodic limb movement of sleep (PLMS). And this can make it hard to go to sleep or stay asleep.
Narcolepsy is a condition affecting the brain that makes it hard to stay awake for long periods of time. With this disorder your body is not making enough of a chemical called hypocretin which the brain uses to make your sleeping patterns regular.
If you have narcolepsy, you’re often extremely tired or drowsy during the day, and have ‘sleep attacks’ where you’ll fall asleep suddenly and without warning at any time. You may also temporarily lose control of your muscles, which is known as ‘cataplexy’.
REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD)
REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is a condition which makes you act out your dreams. REM, or rapid eye movement, is a stage of sleep where your body is usually still and your brain becomes more active and you dream.
If you have RBD, you’re able to move your body in this state and act out the dream, including moving your arms and legs, sometimes getting up and moving around, and also shouting and talking. The dreams are often violent or frightening.
Parasomnias is the name for a group of sleep disorders that cause unusual behaviour while you’re sleeping, or while you’re going to sleep or waking up. These include nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, cramps, wetting the bed, and ‘confusional arousals’ which is when you wake up feeling very confused.
Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS; hypersomnia)
Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), or hypersomnia, is when you feel extremely sleepy during the day and find it hard to stay awake. Rather than just feeling tired, if you have EDS you might fall asleep suddenly during the day, or need to nap frequently.