Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. There is sometimes a genetic component, but most patients have no family history of the problem. Though dramatic and uncontrolled "sleep attacks" have been the best-known feature of narcolepsy, in reality many patients do not have sleep attacks. Instead, they experience constant sleepiness during the day.
A catch-all term for the inability to fall or stay asleep, sleeplessness is -- as sufferers know -- a very serious problem. It's sleeplessness whenever something, whether it's physical pain, anxiety, or an underlying condition, prevents you from falling asleep within a reasonable amount of time or staying asleep long enough to achieve a good night's sleep.
Due to rapidly increasing knowledge about sleep in the 20th century, including the discovery of REM sleep in the 1950s and circadian rhythm disorders in the 70s and 80s, the medical importance of sleep was recognized. The medical community began paying more attention than previously to primary sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, as well as the role and quality of sleep in other conditions. By the 1970s in the US, clinics and laboratories devoted to the study of sleep and sleep disorders had been founded, and a need for standards arose.
Waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is such a common problem it has a name: nocturia . As we get older, our bodies' ability to hold fluids for long periods decreases, thanks to a decline in antidiuretic hormones. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65 percent of older adults have sleep deprivation resulting from waking up frequently to use the bathroom.