Understanding the Different Types of Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are basically what they sound like: conditions that interfere with normal, healthy sleep. Once your sleep is disrupted, you can experience not only daytime tiredness, but physical and emotional health complications. 

And while all sleep disorders affect your sleep-and-wake pattern, they do so in different ways. 

Some 50-70 million American adults experience a sleep disorder at some point. Thankfully, effective treatments are available. Our sleep disorder experts at Michigan Neurology Associates in metro Detroit can help pinpoint the type of sleep disorder you’re experiencing and recommend the best treatment. 

Read on to learn about the different types of sleep disorders, plus ways we can help.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that reduces your airflow due to tissue blockage or neurological issues. 

If you have the form known as hypopnea, you experience shallow breathing that reduces airflow by more than 30% for at least 10 seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, causes periods of total blockages in your breathing. 

Symptoms of the different types are very similar and may include:


Narcolepsy causes sudden, overwhelming bouts of sleep. You may be going about your day as usual, when you fall asleep within a split second. 

Additional symptoms of narcolepsy may include:

The exact cause of narcolepsy isn’t known, but some people with the disorder have low levels of the neurochemical hypocretin, which regulates sleep cycles. Genetic factors and exposure to H1N1 (“swine”) flu may also contribute.


Insomnia is an especially common sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling or staying asleep, or going back to sleep once you’ve woken up too early. 

A broad range of factors can cause or worsen insomnia, including chronic pain, depression, certain medications, and stress. Underlying sleep disorders can also cause insomnia.

Additional symptoms of insomnia may include:


When you have parasomnia, you engage in unusual behaviors such as eating, talking, or walking during sleep. These behaviors can happen at any stage of your sleep, including when you’re just falling asleep or about to fully wake up.

Other signs of parasomnia may include:

Like insomnia, there are many potential causes of parasomnia, such as anxiety, stress, depression, PTSD, certain medications, other sleep disorders, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Getting support for your sleep disorder

The first step in getting a diagnosis and treatment for a sleep disorder is a comprehensive evaluation. At Michigan Neurology Associates, we conduct these exams, during which you discuss your overall symptoms and medical history. 

Depending on the specifics of your symptoms, we may recommend a sleep study or polysomnogram in our sleep lab. In some cases, we suggest an at-home sleep test. 

Once you have a diagnosis, we recommend a treatment plan that may include medications, treatment for an underlying condition, a breathing device, or surgery. 

We also discuss possible lifestyle changes that may help, such as managing stress better, limiting caffeine, changing your diet or exercise routine, and cultivating healthy sleep habits.

Learn more about sleep disorders or get the diagnostics or treatment you need at one of our

locations in Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, or Utica, Michigan. Reach out to us at Michigan Neurology Associates today.

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