Causes of sleep disorders can be divided into four broad areas: lifestyle, biological factors, medication side effects and clinical disorders. The causes of sleep disorders determine treatment options. Lifestyle habits that affect sleep can be altered. Medication that causes sleep deprivation or other sleep-related side effects may need to be changed upon further investigation.
People experiencing more than occasional episodes of sleep deprivation should seek medical attention. Individuals who snore, choke or appear to stop breathing for brief periods while sleeping may have sleep apnea, a potentially serious condition. Insomnia causes daytime sleepiness and should also be reported to a doctor.
Lifestyle and Insomnia Causes
Fatigue and sleep deprivation are often the direct results of lifestyle choices. Drinking caffeine or alcohol in the hours before bedtime is one of the common causes of sleep deprivation. Working the third, or night, shift, while unavoidable for many people, can also negatively affect normal sleep patterns.
Keeping a sleep diary helps people identify possible insomnia causes. Sleep diaries can be used to track caffeine consumption, medications used and exercise. A sleep diary may provide clues to possible sleep disorder causes.
Age, Gender and Sleep Disorder Causes
Both age and gender affect a person’s risk of sleep deprivation. Potential sleep disorder causes in women may include pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations and menopause.
Age affects sleep patterns. The elderly tend to sleep lighter than younger people and are more likely to experience symptoms of sleep disorders in comparison to younger people. Chronic health problems that are more common in older adults, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, diabetes and hypertension, can all affect sleep quality.
Sleep Disorder Causes and Medication
Both prescription and over-the counter medications can interfere with sleep, causing restlessness, insomnia and tiredness. Sleeping pills can combat sleep deprivation, but may have side effects, such as drug dependency and drug tolerance.
Some medications that may be causes of sleeping disorders include:
- Blood pressure medications
- Weight loss drugs.
Causes of Sleep Disorders: Medical Conditions
Underlying health problems are possible sleep disorder and insomnia causes. Both mental and physical conditions are possible sleep disorder causes. While physical health problems such as asthma may disrupt sleep, mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, can also lead to insomnia, nightmares and excessive sleep.
Most sleep disorder causes are not serious. However, some can seriously impact quality of life or prove dangerous, if they are left untreated. For example, untreated obstructive sleep apnea is linked to heart problems.
People who experience sleep deprivation or sleep problems should seek medical attention to determine if sleep disorder or insomnia causes are signs of a more serious problem. In most cases, treating underlying sleep disorder causes improves sleep and overall quality of life.
National Sleep Foundation. (2009). Aging and sleep. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep.
Nissl, J. (2008). Medication or other drug use and sleep problems. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.ghc.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=aa2134