When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you may feel bad during the day. Insomnia may be the cause. Symptoms include:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Waking up early in the morning
Stress, anxiety, poor sleep habits, depression, and disorders of the internal clock – such as jet lag or shift work – can cause insomnia.
Narcolepsy makes it very difficult to stay awake during the daytime and can cause difficulty sleeping at night. Many patients also have symptoms that include feeling paralyzed when they wake up, vivid dreams or images as they fall asleep, and muscle weakness during emotional times.
It is caused by changes in brain pathways that control sleeping and waking. Genetics can play a role, but most patients have no family history of the problem.
Night terrors and sleepwalking events happen during non-rapid eye movement sleep, or NREM.
Causes In Children
Night terrors, sleep eating, and sleepwalking mostly occur in young children (between ages of 3 and 5) and can be traumatic. Children can’t always explain what scared them. When children sleepwalk, they might perform a wide range of activities. Some of those can be potentially dangerous, such as leaving the house. Frightening or stressful events, a fever, or illness can trigger sleepwalking.
Causes In Adults
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome can trigger persistent night terrors or sleepwalking in adults. And, while sleepwalking is more common in children, emotional or psychological problems can cause adults to sleepwalk, too.
Discomfort in the legs and feet that peaks in the evening is typically a sign of RLS. You may feel an urge to move your legs and feet for temporary relief. This can make it harder to fall asleep and cause you to wake up briefly while you sleep.
RLS is a common issue among middle-aged and older adults. Causes include:
- Iron deficiency
- Kidney failure
- Some medications
- Some nerve disorders
- Vitamin deficiencies
About 50% of people with RLS have relatives with the same condition. RLS is often associated with periodic limb movements during sleep. Other sleep disorders have been known to make RLS worse.
When you go to sleep, your upper airway and tongue muscles relax. This can completely or partially block airflow to your lungs. This may cause frequent sleep disruptions and drops in oxygen levels, which affect the quality of your sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Most patients with obstructive sleep apnea snore. About 25% of patients with sleep apnea have daytime sleepiness, but most have more subtle symptoms:
- Attention or memory problems
- Frequent urination
- Headaches on awakening
- Heartburn at night
- Irritability or anxiety
- Waking at night
Obstructive sleep apnea can affect many other conditions including:
This sleep disorder affects people of any age and gender. About 70% of patients are obese. The remaining 30% have abnormal structural features, like large tonsils or a smaller-than-normal inner throat or upper airway. Learn about CPAP and other treatments for sleep conditions.
Central Sleep Apnea
Some patients have pauses in their breathing or abnormal breathing patterns in their sleep due to central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, in which an obstruction causes the breathing problem, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the respiratory system so that it continues to breathe during sleep.
Central sleep apnea may be more common in patients with heart failure or patients on narcotics or other sedative medications. Central sleep apnea may also be caused by PAP (positive airway pressure) treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
You may be able to prevent central sleep apnea by decreasing sedative medications and avoiding sleeping on your back. Treatments include adaptive servo-ventilation or special masks, or medications like acetazolamide.