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Common Types of Sleep Disorders

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In the United States, about 20 million people report having occasional sleeping problems, while about 40 million people report having chronic sleep disorders. Having a sleep disorder can result in sleep deprivation, which can affect every day functioning.

There are several different types of sleep disorders, but the most common types of sleep disorders include sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sleep Apnea

When a patient has sleep apnea, she has periods while she is sleeping in which she has pauses in her breathing. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

With obstructive sleep apnea, the patient’s airway is narrower, which affects air flow. Certain factors can increase a person’s risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, include obesity, a lower jaw that is shorter than the upper jaw, a large neck, and large tonsils in children.

Central sleep apnea occurs with certain types of medical conditions. For example, central sleep apnea may develop in patients who have encephalitis or stroke affecting their brainstem, obesity, primary hypoventilation syndrome or bulbar poliomyelitis. Central sleep apnea may develop after certain interventions, such as radiation of the cervical spine, or due to complications of a procedure, such as cervical spine surgery.


Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which patients have difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep. If the trouble sleeping lasts for up to three weeks, it is considered short-term insomnia.

If it lasts longer than that, it is considered chronic insomnia. Insomnia can occur due to certain lifestyle choices, medical conditions or medications.

Restless Legs Syndrome

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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