Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2020

People spend about one-third of their time asleep. It is as important to overall health as food and water. Doctors know that sleep affects the whole body, including the brain, heart, lungs, immune system, and moods.1,2

What is a sleep disorder?

A sleep disorder is a health condition that keeps a person from getting enough good quality sleep. Doctors have identified more than 80 different types of sleep disorders. Some affect the amount of sleep a person gets or creates inconvenient sleep and wake times. Others affect breathing or movement during sleep. All sleep disorders impact the quality of sleep.

Sleep disorders are common, with 10 to 20 percent of all people complaining to their doctor about sleep issues.3

What are the symptoms of a sleep disorder?

Symptoms of sleep disorders vary according to the type of disorder. Some common signs of sleep disorders include:2

  • Taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep each night
  • Waking up several times in the night
  • Having trouble falling back asleep after waking
  • Waking too early and not being able to fall back asleep
  • Snoring, gasping, coughing, choking, or stopping breathing while asleep
  • Having creepy, tingly, electrical feelings in the legs or arms in the evening or while falling asleep
  • Jerking legs or arms during sleep
  • Having vivid dreams while falling asleep or dozing
  • Experiencing sudden muscle weakness or going limp when laughing, fearful, or angry
  • Feeling paralyzed when you first wake up

Mental health symptoms of a sleep disorder

Sleep disorders often cause daytime symptoms because the body and mind are not properly rested. Some of the mental health symptoms of insomnia include:4

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue or low energy during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Mood changes such as being irritable, aggressive, impulsive, or hyperactive
  • Performance problems at work or school
  • More mistakes or accidents
  • Worry and anxiety about lack of sleep

Physical symptoms of a sleep disorder

Most people know that lack of quality sleep can cause daytime sleepiness or poor mood. But, many people do not know that untreated sleep disorders also can cause physical symptoms. Physical signs of sleep disorders may include:3-5

  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling in the lower legs
  • Heart disease
  • Waking during the night to go to the bathroom
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Morning headaches

Sleep disorders may also be a sign of other health conditions, including depression, heart failure, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.3

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