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On the Causes of Sleep Disorders and How to Avoid Them

Everybody knows the feeling of not having slept a lot, but most people don’t know that one of the causes of sleeping disorders could be the source of their constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue. If you ask people what their concept of “bad” sleep is, you will a wide range of answers.

Sleep disorders can have a massive effect on a person’s life and affect pretty much every aspect of it. Whether it is periodical or chronic, less serious or severe, a sleep disorder should be taken seriously and the underlying causes should be determined, along with the ways to alleviate it. 

Snoring and sleep disordered breathing, sleepwalking, talking in your sleep and nightmares can also be very disturbing to the person sleeping next to you, and make them unable to get a good night’s sleep. It's no surprise that the effects of sleep deprivation can be devastating to someone's health.

Types of Sleeping Disorders

Most scientists will split sleep disorders into two main groups that make it easier to find the cause of the issue and thereby determine the right treatment.

  • Insomnia – when you can’t sleep:
The core problem with insomnia is not being able sleep. It can be not being able to fall asleep, for example due to sleep anxiety, or it can be falling asleep, but waking up during the night, or waking up too early.
  • Hypersomnia – when you sleep too much:
Hypersomnia literally means that you sleep too much. If you are a hypersomniac, you can sleep for many hours during the night and still wake up feeling tired and fall asleep during the day.

causes of sleep disordersA long list of less common issues falls under these two categories. Snoring, sleep talking, sleep walking, REM sleep disturbances and many more can all disturb a person’s sleep and thus cause hypersomnia. Insomnia can also be caused by a long list of factors, and can be due to something as simple as caffeine.

As mentioned before, pretty much everybody has experienced not being able to sleep or not feeling rested after sleeping for a short period of time. In some people, however, the sleep disorders are a constant occurrence, and cause their ability to perform during the day to be vastly lowered. 

The causes of sleep disorders have been very well studied and scientists estimate that 10 to 15% of people suffer from some type of sleeping disorder. Insomnia seems to be much more frequent than hypersomnia. Sleep disorders are more common in older people and happen more to women than men. Of course the frequency and severity of the disorders also varies a lot.

Most Common Causes of Sleeping Disorders

There are many causes of sleep disorders; some more frequent than others. Very rarely, there can be a sign of mental illness or a symptom pointing to a more serious condition. Much more often it is related to stress or depression. Disorders due to stress, worry or other disturbances in everyday life are often fleeting and pose no threat to a person’s health.

Chronic disorders can, on the other hand, actually cause sleep debt, and in the latter stages even stress and depression, as well as be caused by them, which can lead to a vicious circle that needs to be broken.

Curing these disorders often means curing the underlying causes, as they are most often a symptom, not a condition in itself. Finding out how to relieve stress or seeking professional help for depression, is sometimes what it takes to make them problem go away. 

The modern lifestyle of having a stressful job, being constantly online, uncommon work patterns, bad eating habits and so on makes it much more common for people to have snoring problems. People often feel like they get enough sleep, but do not consider the quality of the sleep they actually get and the effect it has on their everyday life.

There are many causes of sleep disorders, including:

  • Bad sleep hygiene
Not creating the right conditions for a good night’s sleep can cause issues. Light, noise, being hungry or eating too much should all be avoided. It is important to a create calm, relaxing environment to sleep in. Did you know that certain sleeping positions can also negatively influence your sleep hygiene?
  • causes of sleep disordersHabit created sleep issues
Especially young people have a tendency to go to bed too late. Furthermore, the light from watching TV or looking at your computer can trigger your brain into thinking that it is still daytime. Most people have experienced turning off the TV late, feeling lethargic, but then not being able to sleep when finally going to bed.

This light disturbance is very likely the cause. Ideally you should turn off the electronics as early as possible and pick up a book instead. Try to uphold a steady, healthy sleeping pattern.
  • Medicine and alcohol
Many types of medicine, as well as alcohol, allow you to go to sleep, but do not let you enter the deep stages of sleep, necessary for the body to regenerate, and get really well rested. If possible avoid them before bedtime.
  • Eating
Eating too much sugar before bed can make you produce too much of the stress hormone cortisone, which, while great for making you wake up in the morning, has a negative effect on quality of sleep.
  • Psychological conditions
Such as stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Physical conditions
Diseases such as night cramps, restless legs syndrome, Alzheimer’s and others frequently cause sleep problems. Problems with your nasal polyps can sometimes also be the cause of excessive snoring.
  • Unknown causes

Sometimes people suffer from chronic sleeping disorders that seem to have no underlying cause. In these cases it can be beneficial to learn various techniques that can help promote relaxation and calm. Meditation and yoga is proven to promote healthy sleep, as are various breathing exercises. Natural remedies that relieve stress and promote a healthy sleeping pattern can often be very beneficial to people with these disorders.


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