Causative Factors of Sleep Disorders

There are a variety of sleep disorders that can regularly affect your ability to get a restful night’s sleep. The causes of sleep disorders are widely varied, but they are becoming much more common, particularly in the U.S. In fact, over 75% of all Americans between the ages of 20 and 59 have reported experiencing sleeping difficulties on a regular basis.

While most people occasionally experience difficulty sleeping due to stress or other outside influences, when it occurs frequently or interferes with daily life, a sleep disorder may be the culprit.

Some Common Types of Sleep Disorders and Their Causes


This disorder is the inability to get to sleep or to stay asleep for a normal length of time. Insomnia can be caused by stress, jet lag, hormones, anxiety, or be the symptom of a completely different condition. Aside from the frustration of insomnia itself, it can affect your quality of life as well as your physical health. Insomnia may result in:

  • Irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired performance at work or school
  • Difficulty in concentrating

Sleep Apnea

This disorder is the result a disruption of breathing during sleep. The body actually pauses between breaths and causes you to awaken. Sleep apnea is a common but serious medical condition and can be dangerous in some cases. The two most common forms of sleep apnea are central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the airway becoming fully or partially blocked during sleep. The muscles of the tongue and throat relax and hinder the airflow. Other causes can be enlarged tonsils and weight.

Less common than obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is the result of the brain  not sending signals to the muscles that allow breathing. This is much more serious and can indicate other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or heart failure.


This is a class of sleeping disorders in which the sleeper has abnormal behaviors and movements during sleep. The sleeper may not even be aware of or remember the incident, but it disrupts sleep and doesn’t allow the body to rest properly. Parasomnias include:

  • Talking in your sleep
  • Sleepwalking
  • Groaning
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding

The causes of parasomnias are as widely varied as the symptoms. In many cases, parasomnias such as sleepwalking or talking in your sleep run in families so there is likely a genetic factor at play. Often parasomnias can be triggered by another sleep disorder such as sleep apnea which can cause groaning or talking in your sleep. Various medications can cause some type of parasomnia as can physical discomfort, such as indigestion or ulcers. Parasomnias affect around 10% of all Americans and can occur in any age group, but are more commonly found in children. Children are more inclined to these disorders because their brain is still immature. In children, they are not generally associated with health issues and most often disappear as the child gets older.

No matter what type of sleep disorder you suffer from, the first step is to see your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying physical condition. In many cases stress, depression, or other mental health issues may be to blame and often speaking with a therapist may bring relief. In many cases, issues that the sufferer isn’t even aware of can trigger sleep disorders such as insomnia or even sleep walking and bringing these issues to light can remedy the problem.

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Latest update: October 8, 2016
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