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Sleep Disorders in Adults: Types and Causes

Medically reviewed by Maushmi Sheth
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Medically reviewed by Maushmi Sheth

Do you ever find yourself tossing and turning, struggling to catch a good night’s sleep? Sleep disorders in adults can make bedtime a real challenge. Let’s dive into the world of sleep disorders, understanding what causes them and what the most common types are.

When we talk about sleep disorders, we’re referring to conditions that mess with the normal sleep routine. It’s not just about the amount of sleep; it’s also about the quality and when it happens. If you regularly have difficulty falling asleep or feel tired during the day you might be dealing with a sleep disorder.

Now, what causes these sleep troubles? It could be various things. Maybe there’s an underlying medical condition, like heart problems or asthma. Mental health can play a role too, with conditions like depression or anxiety leading to sleep woes. Sometimes, it’s in the genes, or it might be a side effect of your medicines. Even working the night shift or sipping caffeine before bedtime can join the list of troublemakers.

There are a bunch of different types of sleep disorders. We have insomnia for those who struggle to fall or stay asleep. Sleep-related breathing disorders are for changes in breathing patterns. Central disorders of hypersomnolence are for those who can’t stay alert during the day. And that’s just the beginning. Let’s explore the most common ones and find out what makes them tick.


Definition of a Sleep Disorder in Adults

Understanding what a sleep disorder in adults means is like unlocking the mystery behind restless nights. So, what is the definition of a sleep disorder? A sleep disorder is when things get wonky with your regular sleep routine. It’s not just about how long you sleep; it’s also about how good that sleep is and when it happens.

Let’s break it down. If you often find yourself wrestling with sleep that’s a hint of a sleep disorder. Picture this: you slept seven hours last night, but the daytime tiredness won’t budge. That’s another sign.

Now, let’s talk about the causes. What can shake up your sleep? It might be a sneaky medical condition like heart troubles or asthma. Mental health buddies, like those with depression or anxiety, can join the party, too. Sometimes, your family tree might play a role, passing down sleep hiccups. Oh, and watch out for those medicines – they might have a say in your sleep story.

So, a sleep disorder is like an unwelcome guest in your nightly routine, messing with the how, when, and how good of your sleep. It’s a puzzle, but once you get it, you’re one step closer to taming those restless nights. Let’s explore more about the types of sleep disorders and the most common sleep disorders.


Sleep Disorders Causes

Causes of sleep disorders infographic

Various factors contribute to sleep disorders in adults. Underlying medical conditions, like heart disease or asthma, can contribute. Mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, are factors. Genetic factors and medication side effects play a role. Working night shifts or substance use before bedtime are also considerations. Stress, especially among women, and a family history of sleep disorders can elevate the risk.

So, what causes the disruptions in the sweet embrace of sleep? Let’s dig into the various factors that can throw your sleep routine out of balance.

Underlying Medical Conditions

One key player in the world of sleep disorders is underlying medical conditions. It’s like having a sneaky troublemaker inside your body, making it challenging to catch those Zs. Conditions like heart disease or asthma can stir up sleep issues. If your body’s not feeling its best, it can throw off your sleep game.

Mental Health Matters

Among the sleep disorders causes is also mental health. Picture this: anxiety and depression sneaking into your mind, making bedtime a battlefield. Mental health conditions often come with a side order of sleep troubles. The mind can be tricky, and when it’s not at ease, neither is your sleep.

Genetic Factors

Your family tree might be a silent contributor to your sleep story. Sometimes, sleep disorders decide to tag along in your genes. If your biological family has a history of sleep issues, you might find yourself dealing with similar challenges. It’s like a sleep legacy, passed down from one snoozer to the next.

Substance Use Before Bedtime

Sometimes, that late-night cup of coffee or a nightcap might be playing tricks on your sleep. Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your peaceful slumber. It’s like inviting a party into your body when it should be winding down. Watch out for these substances, especially close to bedtime, to keep your sleep on the right track.

The sleep disorders causes may be various. However, understanding these factors is the first step in tackling sleep disruptions. Whether it’s your nightly meds or a cup of coffee. Keeping an eye on these sleep disruptors can help you pave the way for better, more restful nights.


Types of Sleep Disorders

Types of sleep disorders chart

Sleep disorders manifest in diverse ways, categorized based on symptoms and their impact on individuals. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD) outlines some major categories:

  • Insomnia. This one’s like a stubborn gatekeeper – making it tough to enter the realm of dreams. Insomnia means struggling to fall or stay asleep, causing fatigue and irritability. It can result from stress, poor sleep habits, medications, or underlying health conditions.
  • Sleep-related breathing disorders. Picture this – your breath dancing during sleep. That’s sleep-related breathing disorders. Changes in breathing patterns, like snoring or moments when breathing takes a pause, can turn a night’s rest into a bit of a breathy adventure.
  • Central disorders of hypersomnolence. Ever felt like you’re walking through a fog during the day? Those are central disorders of hypersomnolence at play. It makes staying alert a real challenge, turning everyday tasks into a blurry puzzle.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders. Imagine your internal clock hitting snooze at the wrong time. That’s circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders for you. It disrupts the usual sleep-wake rhythm, making it tricky to doze off or wake up when you want.
  • Parasomnias. Among the most common sleep disorders are parasomnias. Here’s a category where nighttime turns into a bit of a show. Parasomnias bring physical actions or even chatting during sleep. It’s like your sleep-self performs without you knowing it.
  • Sleep-related movement disorders. Ever felt the urge to do a little midnight dance, but your body says no? That’s sleep-related movement disorders. Physical movements or the need to wiggle can make falling and staying asleep a bit of a challenge.

In the world of sleep disorders, each type brings its unique symptoms. Understanding these nocturnal disruptors is the first step toward taming the sleep mystery. Now, let’s shine a light on the most common sleep disorders that many adults find themselves wrestling with.


Most Common Sleep Disorders

Among over 80 sleep disorders, several stand out as frequently encountered by adults. Let’s shine a spotlight on the three heavyweights in the world of sleep disorders in adults.

  • Chronic Insomnia. Think of chronic insomnia as the persistent party crasher. If you’re regularly wrestling with sleep for at least three months, you might be dealing with this troublemaker. Falling asleep becomes a nightly challenge, and staying asleep? Well, that’s a bit of a puzzle too. It’s a sleep disruption that loves to overstay its welcome.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Enter the snoring symphony, but wait – it’s joined by breath-holding moments. That’s the drama of obstructive sleep apnea, a common disruptor in the sleep routine. It’s like your breath plays hide and seek during the night, making peaceful slumber a bit elusive.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome. Ever felt your legs itching for a midnight stroll when you’re just trying to relax? That’s restless legs syndrome, a common player in the sleep disorder game. Your legs become the stars of the show, demanding movement when rest is on the agenda. It’s an uncontrollable urge, and your legs might have other plans when bedtime arrives. 

These three take center stage among the most common sleep disorders. Each brings its unique set of disturbances, making peaceful and uninterrupted sleep a bit of a quest for those who encounter them. Understanding these heavyweights helps in navigating the world of sleep disorders in adults. This leads to finding ways to catch that elusive good night’s sleep.


Final Thoughts

In wrapping up our exploration of sleep disorders in adults, it’s crucial to highlight that help is available. If you find yourself in a nightly battle with sleep, feeling the effects of chronic insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or restless legs syndrome, remember there’s a path to better sleep.

Understanding sleep disorders causes is the first step, whether medical, mental, genetic, or lifestyle-related. Treatment options range from altering sleep routines to specific therapies. The solutions may involve better sleep hygiene, a comfortable environment, and lifestyle adjustments.

Remember, good sleep is about the quality and rhythm of your rest. If you’re experiencing persistent sleep-related challenges, don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare provider. A good night’s sleep is within reach, and the journey toward it starts with understanding and addressing sleep disorders.

At Lone Star Neurology, our mission is clear: to offer the best care to our patients. We achieve this by staying updated with the latest in neurology, utilizing cutting-edge technology, and fostering lasting personal relationships with those we serve. Your well-being is at the heart of what we do.



  • Is insomnia the most common sleep disorder?

Yes, insomnia ranks among the most common sleep disorders in adults. Persistent trouble falling or staying asleep characterizes this widespread condition.


  • Can lifestyle changes improve sleep disorders?

Certainly. Adopting a consistent sleep schedule contributes to better sleep hygiene. Minimizing stress also plays a role. Establishing bedtime routines is another factor that can contribute to improved sleep disorders.


  • Are sleep disorders always a standalone issue?

No, sleep disorders can result from underlying health conditions. They can also stem from mental health issues, genetic factors, or substance use. Identifying and addressing these root causes is crucial for effective management.


  • How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

Healthcare providers conduct physical exams. They review symptoms and may recommend blood tests or sleep studies (polysomnograms). Keeping a sleep diary and answering questions about sleep patterns aid in diagnosis.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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