Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Sleep Disorders

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Sleep Disorders

Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life's feast, and the most nourishing."1

Shakespeare gave us these dreamy words about sleep, and, indeed, sleep can feel like a tonic for all of life's ills. It restores us when we are feeling ill. It eases our mental burdens and gives us a fresh perspective the next day. Sleep has inspired an enormous amount of poetry and art. But what if sleep isn't a poetic cure-all? What if sleep poses a central struggle in our life? This is the case for many struggling with a sleep disorder.

  • What are sleep disorders?
  • What causes sleep disorders?
  • What are different types of sleep disorders?

Definition of Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are conditions that affect the amount of sleep we get, the timing, and the quality of our sleep. They impair our ability to function in our daily lives and can result in mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.

The major sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and night terrors.

Causes of Sleep Disorders

Many elements can contribute to the development of a sleep disorder. Certain biological factors can make a person more susceptible to certain sleep disorders. However, psychological, developmental, and genetic factors all play a role in whether one will experience a sleep disorder in their life.

Sleep Disorders, person yawning graphic, StudySmarterGraphic of a person yawning, pixabay.com

Types of Sleep Disorders in Psychology

The following text explores the major sleep disorders and their potential causes. It focuses on insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and night terrors.

Sleep Disorders: Insomnia

Chances are you have experienced a night or two of insomnia in your life. It may have even persisted through a rough emotional patch in your life. We all experience these occasional bouts of sleeplessness. But what if there is no external or emotional cause? Some people regularly struggle to get to sleep throughout most of their lives. Insomnia is a persistent problem in drifting off to sleep or maintaining sleep once we drift off.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. Adults experience insomnia more than children or adolescents. Insomnia affects women more than men. It is also more common in those who are depressed or underweight. Unfortunately, depression, anxiety, and mood disturbances are also a result of insomnia.

It may seem easy to reach for sleeping pills or a glass of wine to sort out insomnia. However, it turns out that these things exacerbate insomnia and reduce the quality of sleep we do manage to get by reducing REM sleep.

Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy

Perhaps the polar opposite of insomnia, narcolepsy is a sudden attack of sleeping. Those with narcolepsy fall instantly into REM sleep, skipping the first three stages of a typical sleep cycle. They also experience the reduction of muscle tone that is characteristic of REM sleep.

Although we do not know the cause of narcolepsy, it is known to follow moments of strong emotion. Some patients experience narcolepsy after getting deeply upsetting news, during moments of great joy or laughter, and even during sexual intercourse.

Some solutions to control narcolepsy are medication and a consistent sleep regimen. It is also a heritable condition, with the disorder running in families.

Sleep Disorders: Sleep Apnea

The Greek word apnea, meaning "without breath", gives this sleep disorder its name. Those suffering from sleep apnea momentarily stop breathing while they slumber. These moments without breath can last long enough for blood oxygen levels to drop low enough to trigger a reflexive breathing or waking response.

People with sleep apnea are aware that they occasionally awake during the night but often greatly underestimate how many times this happens. They can wake hundreds of times in one night. Understandably, this can leave them extremely exhausted the next day. Their slow-wave sleep is drastically reduced because they constantly start and stop their sleep cycle.

Because they are not always aware of waking as often as they do, those with this condition run the risk of going undiagnosed for some time. However, once the condition is identified, it can be managed with a little bit of nighttime hardware. One solution is a mouth covering that pumps air into our nose and mouth as we sleep. It can prevent these bouts of breathlessness, and those with this condition can get back to truly restful sleep. Sleep apnea is mostly found in adults and affects men at greater rates than women.

Sleep Disorders: Night Terrors

Unlike sleep apnea, night terrors belong mainly to the domain of children. Children suffering from night terrors may burst out of sleep with a surge of autonomic activity. Their heart rates and breathing increases rapidly. They might walk or run around and can seem confused or terrified.

Night terrors are thought to result from an overactive central nervous system during sleep. Night terrors usually take place toward the end of NREM Stage 3 sleep. As we transition into REM sleep, autonomic activity rises—our breathing and heart rate increase.

Trying to rouse children into full wakefulness during night terrors can make it more difficult to get back to sleep. Although the present with heightened agitation during episodes of night terrors, children tend to fall back to sleep fairly easily during these experiences. Often, children are left with only a vague impression of the frenzied or frightening experience the next day. Luckily, children tend to grow out of these experiences as they grow up and their nervous systems mature.

Sleep Disorders, person sleeping, StudySmarterGraphic of a person sleeping, pixabay

Is Sleep Apnea a Psychological Disorder?

For some time, health professionals have looked at sleep apnea causes from a biological perspective. Obesity and diabetes were thought to contribute to those who suffer from this sleep disorder. However, there is evidence that this disorder may have a psychological component. There is a significant incidence rate of posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder among those with sleep apnea. Treating both the sleep disorder and the psychological component is the most effective regimen for this condition.

How Do Sleeping Disorders Affect Your Consciousness?

A sustained lack of sleep, such as those with sleep disorders experience, can affect our concentration and mental vigilance. The energy we lose due to sleep makes it harder for us to maintain focus or pay attention during the day. It impairs our logical reasoning skills. This can have a comprehensive effect on our work across all areas of our lives.

A lack of sleep can also lead to memory impairment. Different sleep stages are responsible for strengthening and embedding memories. If we are robbed of a normal sleep cycle or spend considerably less time in certain sleep stages within a sleep cycle, this can directly affect our ability to make new memories or recall older ones. This also compromises our ability to learn. Lack of sleep makes it harder to pick up new information and integrate it into our stored body of knowledge.

Sleep Disorders - Key takeaways

  • Sleep disorders are conditions that affect the amount of sleep we get, the timing of sleep, and the quality of our sleep.
  • Sleep disorders are caused by biological, psychological, developmental, and genetic factors.
  • The major sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and night terrors.
  • Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and narcolepsy is the least common sleep disorder.
  • Sleep disorders can affect our concentration, memory, and ability to learn new things.

References

  1. Macbeth. Shakespeare.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorder is a condition that affects the amount of sleep we get, the timing of sleep, and the quality of our sleep. 

Sleep disorders are impacted by biological, psychological, developmental, and genetic factors. 

Sleep apnea could be a psychological disorder. There is evidence that there may be a psychological component to this disorder. There is a significant incidence rate of posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder among those with sleep apnea. 

The major sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and night terrors. 

Sleep disorders affect your consciousness by concentration and mental vigilance.

Final Sleep Disorders Quiz

Question

What are the four major sleep disorders? 

Show answer

Answer

Insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and night terrors

Show question

Question

What is the most common sleep disorder?

Show answer

Answer

Insomnia

Show question

Question

This sleep disorder is thought to be the result of an overactive central nervous system during sleep.

Show answer

Answer

Night terrors

Show question

Question

This sleep disorder is described as a sudden attack of sleeping.

Show answer

Answer

Narcolepsy

Show question

Question

There is a significant incidence rate of posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder among those with this sleep disorder.

Show answer

Answer

Sleep apnea

Show question

Question

True or False: A lack of sleep can affect learning.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Those with narcolepsy fall instantly into which stage of the sleep cycle?

Show answer

Answer

REM Sleep

Show question

Question

Night terrors are thought to occur toward the end of which sleep stage?

Show answer

Answer

NREM 3 Stage

Show question

Question

True or False: Sleep disorders can affect our mental health.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What is a sleep disorder?

Show answer

Answer

Sleep disorders are conditions that affect the amount of sleep we get, the timing of sleep, and the quality of our sleep.

Show question

Question

Which factors can contribute to the development of a sleep disorder?

Show answer

Answer

Biological, psychological, developmental, and genetic factors. 

Show question

Question

This sleep disorder is treated with the use of an air pump while sleeping.

Show answer

Answer

Sleep apnea

Show question

Question

This sleep disorder is often triggered by intense emotional stages.

Show answer

Answer

Narcolepsy

Show question

Question

This sleep disorder mostly affects children. 

Show answer

Answer

Night terrors

Show question

Question

This sleep disorder is mostly found in adults and affects men at greater rates than women.

Show answer

Answer

Sleep Apnea

Show question

Question

True or False: Insomnia affects women more than men.

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

Which sleep disorder is more common in those who are depressed or underweight?

Show answer

Answer

Insomnia 

Show question

Question

Can narcolepsy be heritable (i.e. passed down within the family)? 

Show answer

Answer

Yes 

Show question

Question

True or False: Doctors know what causes narcolepsy. 

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

How many stages of sleep do people with narcolepsy skip? 

Show answer

Answer

They skip three stages of sleep 

Show question

Question

The Greek word "apnea" translates to what in English? 

Show answer

Answer

"Without breath" 

Show question

Question

True or False: People with sleep apnea are aware that they occasionally awake during the night but often greatly underestimate how many times this happens. 

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

True or False: Most children can "grow out" of having night terrors as their nervous systems mature. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which of the following is the least common sleep disorder? 

Show answer

Answer

Narcolepsy 

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank: Sleep disorders are caused by biological, psychological, developmental, and ________ factors. 

Show answer

Answer

genetic 

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Sleep Disorders quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.