If you have sleep apnea, you stop and start breathing repeatedly while you sleep. This causes drops in your body’s oxygen levels and frequent sleep disruptions, both of which can affect the quality of your sleep.
There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. A third type, complex sleep apnea, involves having symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Learn more about sleep apnea.
Insomnia, which involves difficulty or an inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, is the most common sleep disorder. Lack of sleep can lead to many symptoms, such as:
- Anxiety, depression and/or irritability
- Lack of energy
- Trouble focusing on necessary tasks
Many factors can cause or worsen insomnia, including:
- Poor sleep habits
- Shift work (i.e., working at night and sleeping during the day)
Narcolepsy involves feeling extremely drowsy during the day, as well as “sleep attacks” — overwhelming urges to sleep that you may not be able to resist. People with narcolepsy may sometimes experience sleep paralysis (an inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up), hallucinations or other issues relating to their condition, including other sleep disorders.
Night terrors, sleepwalking and sleep eating are all types of events that happen during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. These conditions can affect both children and adults.
NREM Events in Children
Young children between 3 and 5 are the ones who most often experience night terrors, sleepwalking and sleep eating. These events can be traumatic for patients. Your child may not be able to tell you what scared them during a night terror.
If your child sleepwalks, they may perform activities that can be dangerous, such as leaving the house or falling down the stairs. Fevers, illnesses, or frightening or stressful events can trigger night terrors, sleepwalking or sleep eating in children.
Our team of pediatric sleep experts treat childhood sleep disorders through the Sleep Medicine program at Baystate Children's Hospital.
NREM Events in Adults
Obstructive sleep apnea is a potential cause of night terrors, sleepwalking and sleep eating in adults. Stress and other emotional or behavioral health issues can cause sleepwalking in adults as well.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) involves discomfort in the legs and feet during the evening and night. You may feel like you need to move your legs in order to ease this discomfort. RLS can make it harder for you to fall or stay asleep, and you may wake up occasionally during the night to move your legs.
RLS is common among middle-aged and older adults. Causes of RLS can include: