Chronic sleep disorders include any type of condition that prevents someone from getting a normal night's worth of sleep or cause a person to sleep during the day rather than at night. Some chronic sleep disorders can cause a person to sleep at random times throughout the day; other disorders may cause the person to sleepwalk. Chronic sleep disorders happen regularly, not just as an isolated incident, and they may cause issues in other aspects of the sufferer's life. Sleep deprivation can lead to elevated stress levels, cognitive difficulties, and even disruption of normal body functions.
One of the more common chronic sleep disorders is insomnia. This condition occurs when a person cannot get to sleep or has difficulty maintaining sleep throughout the night. Insomnia can be caused by a number of conditions; many people who have injuries to the body may be kept awake for long periods of time while the wound heals. The pain caused by the wound or injury may prevent the person from relaxing enough to get to sleep, or some medications taken for injuries may cause sleeplessness. Restless leg syndrome can also cause insomnia, as can a range of other conditions. Middle-aged and elderly men frequently have to get up during the night to urinate, which can lead to insomnia.
Other chronic sleep disorders are less common, though they do occur regularly among people of all ages. Sleepwalking occurs when a person walks or makes other motions while still asleep. While the condition itself is relatively harmless, walking during sleep can lead to injuries resulting from falls or collisions with other people or things. A common misconception about sleepwalking is that a sleepwalker should not be awakened while walking; the opposite is actually true, as waking a sleepwalker can prevent him or her from injury. He or she will be disoriented, however, as sleepwalkers are usually not aware that they are moving at all.
One of the most common types of chronic sleep disorders is sleep apnea, which occurs when one's breathing patterns change during sleep. Regular breathing is interrupted by short periods of paused breathing. The pauses can last anywhere from five seconds to 30 seconds or longer, and deep sleep will be disturbed and become shallow sleep. Sufferers of sleep apnea will often complain of sleep that was not restful, or they may wake up several times during the night. This is a potentially serious condition that should be treated over the long term by a doctor or health professional.