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What is a Sleep Disorder?


Snoring occurs when the airway is partially obstructed during sleep, and is often an indicator of sleep apnea.

Snoring is considered a problem if it regularly wakes a sleep partner, which often causes that person to then lose sleep or have poor sleep. In some cases snoring can be decreased by avoiding alcohol in the evening, by losing weight, or by sleeping on one’s side.

If you snore frequently or loudly, you could benefit from a Sleep Study to determine if you are suffering from Sleep Apnea, and if there are ways to help you (and your bed partner) sleep more restfully.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing or slowed breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. Sleep apnea is classified as mild, moderate or severe, based on the number of times per hour breathing stops (apnea) or slows (hypopnea).

Three main types of sleep apnea are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of impeded airflow during sleep, such as from narrowed airways. Factors such as obesity often contribute to obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Central sleep apnea results from a problem with the brain signaling the breathing muscles. This type of apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.
  • Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.


Narcolepsy is a disabling sleep disorder that mixes the nervous system's messages about when to sleep and when to be awake. Narcolepsy usually starts during the teen years or early adulthood and continues throughout life.

Narcolepsy may cause:

  • Sudden sleep attacks, which may occur at any time during any type of activity, such as eating dinner, driving the car, or carrying on a conversation. These sleep attacks can occur several times a day and may last from a few minutes to several hours.
  • Sudden, brief periods of muscle weakness while a person is awake (cataplexy). The weakness may affect specific muscle groups or may affect the entire body. These periods of muscle weakness are often brought on by strong emotional reactions, such as laughing or crying.
  • Hallucinations just before a sleep attack.
  • Brief loss of the ability to move when a person is falling asleep or just waking up (sleep paralysis).


Insomnia is an inability to sleep well. A person with insomnia may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or may wake up earlier than desired, resulting in symptoms such as daytime fatigue, irritability, and poor memory. Short-term (temporary) insomnia lasting from a day to a month is very common. An occasional restless night may be caused by a period of emotional distress or sleeping in an unfamiliar bed. Ongoing (chronic) insomnia lasts a month or more and can cause significant distress. Chronic insomnia can be caused by many other conditions, such as depression, chronic pain, medications, poor sleep habits, or even worrying about sleeping.

Periodic Limb Movement (PLM)

Periodic limb movement disorder is continuous or wild movements of the feet, arms, or legs during sleep. These movements can last for up to 10 seconds and may repeat after 5 to 90 seconds and can interfere with sleep and cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Periodic limb movement disorder is typically treated with medicines that prevent the movements or help with sleep during the movements. Periodic limb movement disorder is more common in older adults than in younger people.