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.
^ Hirshkowitz, Max (2004). "Chapter 10, Neuropsychiatric Aspects of Sleep and Sleep Disorders (pp 315-340)" (Google Books preview includes entire chapter 10). In Stuart C. Yudofsky; Robert E. Hales (eds.). Essentials of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences (4 ed.). Arlington, Virginia, USA: American Psychiatric Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58562-005-0. ...insomnia is a symptom. It is neither a disease nor a specific condition. (from p. 322)
A systematic review states 7.6% of the general population experiences sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. Its prevalence among men is 15.9% while 18.9% of women experience it. When considering specific populations, 28.3% of students and 31.9% of psychiatric patients have experienced this phenomenon at least once in their lifetime. Of those psychiatric patients, 34.6% have panic disorder. Sleep paralysis in students is slightly more prevalent for those of Asian descent (39.9%) than other ethnicities (Hispanic: 34.5%, African descent: 31.4%, Caucasian 30.8%).[67]
The neurodegenerative conditions are commonly related to brain structures impairment, which might disrupt the states of sleep and wakefulness, circadian rhythm, motor or non motor functioning.[22][24] On the other hand, sleep disturbances are also frequently related to worsening patient's cognitive functioning, emotional state and quality of life.[24][27][28] Furthermore, these abnormal behavioural symptoms negatively contribute to overwhelming their relatives and caregivers.[24][27][28] Therefore, a deeper understanding of the relationship between sleep disorders and neurodegenerative diseases seems to be extremely important, mainly considering the limited research related to it and the increasing expectancy of life.[22][28]

According to one meta-analysis, the two most prevalent sleep disorders among children are confusional arousals and sleep walking.[57] An estimated 17.3% of kids between 3 and 13 years old experience confusional arousals.[57] About 17% of children sleep walk, with the disorder being more common among boys than girls.[57] The peak ages of sleep walking are from 8 to 12 years old.[57] A different systematic review offers a high range of prevalence rates of sleep bruxism for children. Between 15.29 and 38.6% of preschoolers grind their teeth at least one night a week. All but one of the included studies reports decreasing bruxist prevalence as age increased as well as a higher prevalence among boys than girls.[58]


Recent studies have also linked sleep disturbances, neurogenesis and AD.[29] Indeed, it is now known that neurogenesis exists and that the subgranular zone and the subventricular zone keep on creating new neurons even in an adult brain.[29][34] These new cells are then incorporated into neuronal circuits and interestingly, the supragranular zone is found in the hippocampus.[29][34] These new cells will contribute to learning and memory and will play a role in the hippocampal-dependent memory.[29]

Delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), inability to awaken and fall asleep at socially acceptable times but no problem with sleep maintenance, a disorder of circadian rhythms. Other such disorders are advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD), non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder (non-24) in the sighted or in the blind, and irregular sleep wake rhythm, all much less common than DSPD, as well as the situational shift work sleep disorder.[4]


One factors that could explain this change in sleep architecture is a change in circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep.[29] A disruption of the circadian rhythm would therefore generate sleep disturbances.[29] Some studies show that people with AD have a delayed circadian rhythm, whereas in normal aging we will find an advanced circadian rhythm.[29][31]


There are many possible causes of restless legs syndrome, including kidney failure, nerve disorders, vitamin and iron deficiencies, pregnancy, and some medications (such as antidepressants). Recent studies have shown a strong genetic link and researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the disorder.

In people who have restless legs syndrome, discomfort in the legs and feet peaks during the evening and night. They feel an urge to move their legs and feet to get temporary relief, often with excessive, rhythmic, or cyclic leg movements during sleep. This can delay sleep onset and cause brief awakening during sleep. Restless legs syndrome is a common problem among middle-aged and older adults.

None of these general approaches is sufficient for all patients with sleep disorders. Rather, the choice of a specific treatment depends on the patient's diagnosis, medical and psychiatric history, and preferences, as well as the expertise of the treating clinician. Often, behavioral/psychotherapeutic and pharmacological approaches are not incompatible and can effectively be combined to maximize therapeutic benefits. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.


Frequently having trouble sleeping can be a frustrating and debilitating experience. You sleep badly at night, which leaves you feeling dead-tired in the morning and whatever energy you have quickly drains throughout the day. But then, no matter how exhausted you feel at night, you still have trouble sleeping. And so the cycle begins again, taking a serious toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. Ignoring sleep problems and disorders can damage your physical health and lead to weight gain, car accidents, impaired job performance, memory problems, and strained relationships. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, quality sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

Chronic sleep disorders in childhood, which affect some 70% of children with developmental or psychological disorders, are under-reported and under-treated. Sleep-phase disruption is also common among adolescents, whose school schedules are often incompatible with their natural circadian rhythm. Effective treatment begins with careful diagnosis using sleep diaries and perhaps sleep studies. Modifications in sleep hygiene may resolve the problem, but medical treatment is often warranted.[35]
Specialists in Sleep Medicine were originally certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine, which still recognizes specialists. Those passing the Sleep Medicine Specialty Exam received the designation "diplomate of the ABSM." Sleep Medicine is now a recognized subspecialty within internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, otolaryngology, psychiatry and neurology in the United States. Certification in Sleep Medicine shows that the specialist:

^ Hirshkowitz, Max (2004). "Chapter 10, Neuropsychiatric Aspects of Sleep and Sleep Disorders (pp 315-340)" (Google Books preview includes entire chapter 10). In Stuart C. Yudofsky; Robert E. Hales (eds.). Essentials of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences (4 ed.). Arlington, Virginia, USA: American Psychiatric Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58562-005-0. ...insomnia is a symptom. It is neither a disease nor a specific condition. (from p. 322)
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects around 4% of men and 2% of women in the United States.[63] In general, this disorder is more prevalent among men. However, this difference tends to diminish with age. Women experience the highest risk for OSA during pregnancy.[64] Also, they tend to report experiencing depression and insomnia in conjunction with obstructive sleep apnea.[65] In a meta-analysis of the various Asian countries, India and China present the highest prevalence of the disorder. Specifically, about 13.7% of the Indian population and 7% of Hong-Kong's population is estimated to have OSA. The two groups experience daytime OSA symptoms such as difficulties concentrating, mood swings, or high blood pressure,[66] at similar rates (prevalence of 3.5% and 3.57%, respectively).[63]
Idiopathic hypersomnia: a chronic neurological disease similar to narcolepsy in which there is an increased amount of fatigue and sleep during the day. Patients who suffer from idiopathic hypersomnia cannot obtain a healthy amount of sleep for a regular day of activities. This hinders the patients' ability to perform well, and patients have to deal with this for the rest of their lives.[15]
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an overwhelming need to move the legs. This urge is sometimes accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs. While these symptoms can occur during the day, they are most prevalent at night. RLS is often associated with certain health conditions, including ADHD and Parkinson’s disease, but the exact cause isn’t always known.
Sleep dentistry (bruxism, snoring and sleep apnea), while not recognized as one of the nine dental specialties, qualifies for board-certification by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM). The resulting Diplomate status is recognized by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), and these dentists are organized in the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (USA).[53] The qualified dentists collaborate with sleep physicians at accredited sleep centers and can provide oral appliance therapy and upper airway surgery to treat or manage sleep-related breathing disorders.[54]
There are many possible causes of restless legs syndrome, including kidney failure, nerve disorders, vitamin and iron deficiencies, pregnancy, and some medications (such as antidepressants). Recent studies have shown a strong genetic link and researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the disorder.
According to one meta-analysis, the mean prevalence rate for North America and Western Europe is estimated to be 14.5±8.0%. Specifically in the United States, the prevalence of restless leg syndrome is estimated to be between 5 and 15.7% when using strict diagnostic criteria. RLS is over 35% more prevalent in American women than their male counterparts.[68]
In the UK, knowledge of sleep medicine and possibilities for diagnosis and treatment seem to lag. Guardian.co.uk quotes the director of the Imperial College Healthcare Sleep Centre: "One problem is that there has been relatively little training in sleep medicine in this country – certainly there is no structured training for sleep physicians."[55] The Imperial College Healthcare site[56] shows attention to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA) and very few other sleep disorders. Some NHS trusts have specialist clinics for respiratory and/or neurological sleep medicine.
Keep a pen and paper next to your bed. If you're often kept awake by racing thoughts and worries and you tend to make to-do lists in your head, keep a pen or pencil and a small pad of paper handy and write them down. As you put each item down on paper, imagine yourself setting aside that concern. (Again, use a book light; don't turn on the overhead or a bright bedside light to write.)
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