Fact Checked

What Is a Dyssomnia?

Valerie Goldberg
Valerie Goldberg

"Dyssomnia" is a catch-all term for a wide range of sleeping disorders. Insomnia, odd sleeping patterns and waking up several times throughout the night all fall under the category of dyssomnia. Sleeping issues that are categorized under dyssomnia can be caused by a variety of problems, such as certain mental health disorders, drinking an excessive amount of caffeine during the day, and starting or stopping certain medications. The treatments for sleep disorders vary and are determined once a medical professional figures out why a person is having trouble sleeping.

Two common causes of dyssomnia are anxiety and depression. Some people who suffer from anxiety cannot become relaxed enough at night to fall asleep. Certain depressed patients may sleep too much during the day as a result of their illness and then suffer from insomnia at night as a result. Psychiatrists may choose to prescribe diazepam or another anti-anxiety mediation to help anxiety patients relax their bodies and minds so they can fall asleep at night. Depressed patients may benefit from exercise during the day to help them stay awake and may be prescribed an antidepressant medication such as amitriptyline to get rest at night.

Insomnia is a type of dyssomnia.
Insomnia is a type of dyssomnia.

Some people suffer from dyssomnia caused by their own behaviors during the day. Consuming food and drinks high in caffeine can severely impact a person's ability to fall asleep at night. It is important for people who have trouble sleeping to cut back on coffee, soda, chocolate and other stimulants. If a person feels he or she must consume these items, then it is best only to have them only in small amounts and early in the day. People who eliminate caffeine from their diets and still have trouble falling asleep at night should talk to their doctors about potential prescription medication solutions.

While some medications can be used to treat sleeping disorders, other medications can be the cause of dyssomnia. If a patient begins taking a new medication and notices a change in his or her sleeping pattern, then he or she should talk to the prescribing doctor. Some prescription medications should only be taken in the morning so patients do not experience insomnia and other side effects at night. People also need to be careful when they quit taking a medication. Patients should be slowly weaned off many antidepressant medications and, when a patient abruptly stops taking the medication, it can result in the inability to fall asleep.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Sleep apnea is a form of dyssomnia and it is a really awful one. It basically makes you feel like you have insomnia, except without the awake periods where you could at least be doing something.

My mother suffers from it and she is also worried about the possibility of brain damage. Because you can stop breathing several times in the night, you might not get enough oxygen to your brain and it can slowly start to degenerate.

I wish she would go to the sleep doctor about it. She can't really afford it, but on the other hand her health is suffering.


@KoiwiGal - I actually read recently that the natural sleep pattern should include a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night. Because often nights are much longer than people need to sleep. But, we usually use electronic lights to keep ourselves up until we only get the bare minimum of time now.

So, what will happen is, someone will naturally wake up and instead of relaxing for an hour, reading or thinking, or whatever, they will panic and think, why aren't I sleeping? I need to sleep! and will make it harder to get to sleep because they are telling their bodies to freak out.

So, I think if you wake up in the middle of the night with a dyssomnia, you might want to try just relaxing and thinking about whatever you feel like and see if you don't eventually go back to sleep.


I suffered from insomnia when I was younger and I was quite depressed. I later found out that staying up late can actually help with depression, so maybe I was better off.

It didn't feel like it at the time though. At the time I felt absolutely wretched. I desperately wanted to sleep, but just couldn't make my mind turn off.

Eventually I just learned how to think about something else, something trivial, until my mind could switch itself off. Not quite jumping sheep, but close!

I hope I never go through that again.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Insomnia is a type of dyssomnia.
      By: bramgino
      Insomnia is a type of dyssomnia.