Sleep Disorders

A sleep disorder is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental and emotional functioning. Experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. With the hectic pace of life today, there is so much sleep deprivation that sleepiness is almost the norm.

If we don’t get the amount of sleep we each need each night, this lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can be very dangerous. It can impair our ability to perform basic daily activities such as driving and routine on-the-job tasks. And it can have a longer-term impact on our physical and mental health.

More than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders and another 20 million have occasional sleeping problems. How much sleep we each need depends on many factors, including age. Infants generally require about 16 hours of sleep a day, while teenagers need about nine hours on average. Adults usually need about seven to eight hours.

The term “sleep disorders” refers to a variety of conditions that affect your ability to get regular, satisfying, restful sleep. Some of the most common sleep disorders include:

Treatments for sleep disorders vary, but generally can be grouped into four categories:

  • Behavioral/ psychotherapeutic treatments
  • Rehabilitation/management
  • Medications
  • Other somatic treatments

None of these general approaches is sufficient for all patients with sleep disorders. Rather, the choice of a specific treatment depends on the patient’s diagnosis, medical and psychiatric history, and preferences. Often, behavioral or psychotherapeutic and pharmacological approaches can effectively be combined to maximize therapeutic benefits.

Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.