Types of Sleep Disorders

Whether you suffer from disturbed sleep, insomnia and narcolepsy, Swedish Hospital can help.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea refers to a condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. There are two types:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of a persons airway. The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, breathing pauses during sleep and snorting or gasping during sleep. 
  • Central sleep apnea is caused by an instable respiratory control center. Central sleep apnea is seen frequently in persons who have suffered from a stroke, heart failure or other forms of cardiac and pulmonary disease.
Snoring is more than a joke and can lead to deeper problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease. While snoring is more common in men, five percent of woman snore regularly. Many individuals who have sleep apnea feel tired all the time, fall asleep when they don't want to and are at risk of hypertension, heart failure and stroke.


You toss and turn, stare at the ceiling or turn on the television. Morning comes and you're exhausted. These are symptoms of insomnia, or the inability to sleep, and can be caused by illness, significant life stresses, environmental noises or interference in a person's normal sleep schedule, such as changing from a day to night work shift. Insomnia doesn't discriminate by age; however, more than two-thirds of older adults experience symptoms.

The inability to sleep could also signal other conditions, including depression, chronic stress and nighttime pain, often making health conditions worse. Talking with a sleep specialist is one of the first steps in treatment.


If you fall asleep at work,while driving or during conversation, you could be suffering from narcolepsy, or excessive sleep, which affects an estimated 25 in 100,000 Americans. Narcolepsy may cause you to fall asleep uncontrollably throughout the day, induce excessive daytime sleepiness or even cause hallucinations. Ignoring the symptoms can pose tremendous danger while driving, operating machinery or carrying out daily tasks.

The exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown; however, it usually begins between the ages of 15 and 25. Symptoms may be treated with medications and lifestyle adjustments, such as avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening, finishing your exercise routine at least three hours before bed and following a routine before going to bed and after getting up. Early detection is a major advantage in treating narcolepsy.

Contact Us

For more information on the Sleep and Neurodiagnostic Center, call 773-878-8200, ext. 2429.

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