Common Sleep Disorders

Common Sleep Disorders

Sleep-related difficulties affect many people. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the following, it is important to receive an evaluation by one of our qualified Respiratory Therapy staff.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

CIRCADIAN Rhythm Disorders include a variety of disorders of the sleep-wake cycle such as jet lag syndrome, delayed and advanced sleep phase syndrome (waking or sleeping at undesired times) and shift-work sleep disorder. Treatment can include sleep hygiene education, lifestyle changes and bright light therapy.


Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep and can range from mild to chronic in its intensity. Causes vary and include sleep disturbances triggered by shift-work, poor bedtime habits, stress, life-changing circumstances or mental or physical illnesses. Treatment depends on the diagnosed cause of the insomnia. For example, if the cause of insomnia is anxiety, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be in order. If the cause is something physical, such as gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), medications or lifestyle changes may be recommended.


Narcolepsy is a condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations (dreamlike images that occur at sleep onset), and brief episodes of muscle weakness or paralysis precipitated by strong emotion, such as laughter or surprise. Patients experience uncontrollable sleep attacks during inappropriate occasions. Currently, there is no cure. However, symptoms can usually be managed through medication, behavioral treatment and management of the patient’s environment.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition characterized by excessive snoring and involves the frequent collapse of the breathing passageway during sleep, with partial or complete blockage resulting. Corrective treatment may include sleep-position training, lifestyle changes, oral appliances that keep the airway open at night, and/or a nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) device that uses air pressure to splint the airway open during sleep.


Parasomnias are disruptive phenomena that occur during sleep or are exaggerated by sleep. These include stomach acid reflux syndrome, nocturnal asthma, sleepwalking/talking and nightmares. Parasomnias occur most often in children and are a cause for alarm only if the behaviors are violent or may cause injury, are disturbing to other household members or result in excessive daytime sleepiness. In adults, these disorders can arise from other conditions such as sleep apnea. The course of treatment depends on the diagnosed underlying cause.

Restless Legs Syndrome

This condition is marked by crawling or tingling sensations in the legs while awake and an irresistible urge to move the legs during rest. After ruling out any possible underlying causes such as diabetes, doctors may prescribe lifestyle changes and/or medication. This syndrome is frequently associated with periodic leg twitches during sleep, which may disrupt or fragment sleep.