What are the Different Sleep Disorder Causes?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 December 2018
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Sleep disorder causes vary based on the condition. The most common sleep disorders are caused by dietary habits, work schedules, stress, being overweight, and physical illness or injury. Others, such as narcolepsy, may be caused by an underlying neurological disorder.

One of the most common sleep disorders is insomnia, or the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep. The sleep disorder causes for this condition are widely varied. Drinking too much caffeine during the day is one common cause, as well as being under too much stress. Those who work at night and sleep during the day may also have this issue because the body is not programmed to sleep during daylight hours. Sometimes being in physical pain can also lead to a lack of sleep.

To treat this condition it is important to maintain a sleep schedule, meaning that one should wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Avoiding caffeinated beverages and foods is also important, and exercising vigorously for at least half an hour can also improve sleep, although exercise should be completed more than two hours before bed. If physical discomfort is causing a lack of sleep, the cause of pain should be treated by a doctor.


Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder which has various causes. This refers to the cessation of breathing for seconds at a time during the night. It can cause a disruption of sleep because sufferers usually wake up, take a breath, and then fall back asleep several times in one night, often without even realizing it. This can lead to extreme fatigue during the day.

The sleep disorder causes for sleep apnea usually involve an obstruction of the airways. This can be caused by naturally occurring issues with the nose or mouth, or due to excess weight pulling against the airway during sleep, due to gravity. Occasionally it is caused by a neurological disorder. Treatment can include a specialized machine which applies pressure to the airways during sleep, as well as losing weight if it is an issue.

Neurological sleep disorder causes are usually not as easy to treat. They are normally chronic and have to be treated long-term, usually for the duration of the patient’s life. Narcolepsy, for instance, is a chronic condition which causes excessive sleepiness during the day and sometimes sleep attacks during the day. It is normally treated with oral medications and sometimes certain lifestyle changes may also be needed.



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