Sleep disorders (or sleep-wake disorders) involve problems with the quality, timing, and amount of sleep, which result in daytime distress and impairment in functioning. Sleep-wake disorders often occur along with medical conditions or other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or cognitive disorders. There are several different types of sleep-wake disorders, of which insomnia is the most common. Other sleep-wake disorders include obstructive sleep apnea, parasomnias, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome.
Sleep difficulties are linked to both physical and emotional problems. Sleep problems can both contribute to or exacerbate mental health conditions and can be a symptom of other mental health conditions.
About one-third of adults report insomnia symptoms and 6-10 percent meet the criteria for insomnia disorder.
A comprehensive assessment for insomnia or other sleep problems may involve a patient history, a physical exam, a sleep diary and clinical testing (a sleep study). A sleep study allows the physician to identify how long and how well you’re sleeping and to detect specific sleep problems. A sleep diary is a record of your sleep habits to discuss with your physician. It includes information such as when you go to bed, get to sleep, wake up, get out of bed, take naps, exercise, eat and consume alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
Sleep disorders should be specifically addressed regardless of mental or other medical problems that may be present. Chronic insomnia is typically treated with a combination of sleep medications and behavioral techniques, such as cognitive behavior therapy. Several types of medications can be used to treat insomnia and to help you fall asleep or stay asleep. Most of these can become habit-forming and should only be used for short periods and under the care of a doctor. Some antidepressants are also used to treat insomnia.