Sleep Disorder

A sleep disorder, or somnipathy, is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental and emotional functioning. Polysomnography is a test commonly ordered for some sleep disorders.

Disruptions in sleep can be caused by a variety of issues, from teeth grinding to night terrors. When a person suffers from difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep with no obvious cause, it is referred to as insomnia. Dipsomania refers to a group of sleep disorders with the symptoms of trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep, which may cause an elevated sense of sleepiness during the day. Insomnia is characterized by an extended period of symptoms including trouble with retaining sleep, fatigue, decreased attentiveness, and dysphoria.

To diagnose insomnia, these symptoms must persist for a minimum of 4 weeks. The DSM-IV categorizes insomnias into primary insomnia, insomnia associated with medical or mental diseases, and insomnia associated with the consumption or abuse of substances. Individuals with insomnia often worry about the negative health consequences, which can lead to the development of anxiety and depression.

In addition, sleep disorders may also cause sufferers to sleep excessively, a condition known as hypersomnia. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.