Sleep Disorder Treatment (Sleep Treatment)

Sleep treatment information. Sleep medication and supplements for treating sleep disorders. Run down on sleep medications, including sedative-hypnotics.

The good news about sleep disorders is that while they are very common, they are also very treatable. Most sleep disorders are successfully treated or disappear on their own within a few weeks. Developing a sleep routine and removing environmental factors can go a long way to improving sleep. Therapy, as part of sleep disorder treatment, can be used to reduce stressors and there are effective drugs that can be used for sleep treatment, as-needed, for decades without concern of dependence.1

Common Prescription Sleep Medication Used in Sleep Disorder Treatment

If selected by your doctor as a sleep treatment, she can choose between two basic sleep medication types:

  1. those that promote sleep
  2. those that promote wakefulness

Sleep-promoting medications are typically various forms of tranquilizers known as sedative-hypnotics. Two common examples are Ativan and Lunesta. Your doctor may also select an antidepressant or another kind of medication known to induce sleep and sustain sleep. To promote wakefulness, your doctor will typically select a sleep drug designed specifically for that purpose such as Provigil.

Your specific type of sleep disorder and its cause will dictate which sleep medication your doctor will suggest. The following is a list of commonly prescribed sleep medications for the treatment of sleep disorders:

Supplements For Treating Sleep Disorders

The following supplements have some supporting scientific evidence for the effective treatment of sleep disorders.


APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Sleep Disorder Treatment (Sleep Treatment), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Sleep Problems: What Causes Disordered Sleep?

Physiological and psychological factors, including depression and anxiety, contribute to sleep problems. Learn about the reasons for disordered sleep.

Sleep Disorders Causes

There are many reasons for disordered sleep including physical, psychological and environmental factors. Physically, some people have bone or soft tissue defects or injuries that can induce sleep irregularities. Weight gain or an illness, such as the flu, is another common physical cause for sleep disruption.

Environmental causes are also common in short-term sleep loss. Changes in the environment like a new baby, increased noise or light in the bedroom, a new mattress or even a change in sleep partner can all cause sleep disruption.

But most short-term sleep disorders are psychological in nature and are mostly induced by worry, stress (anxiety and sleep disorders) or periods of increased work. People have difficulty calming down enough to enter restful sleep or to remain asleep all night. As these psychological stressors fade, sleep generally returns to normal.

Contributing Physiological and Psychological Factors to Sleep Problems

Sleep disturbances can also be caused by other disorders such as:

Pregnancy is another factor, as pregnant women sometimes experience fatigue or find sleep difficult. This is commonly due to changes in hormones, body shape, vivid dreams, or the excitement or anxiety of becoming a mother.


APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Sleep Problems: What Causes Disordered Sleep?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Sleep Disorder Treatment for Sleep Problems and Depression

Details on effective sleep disorder treatment for sleep problems with depression. Covers depression sleep medications and self-help for better sleeping with depression.

Treating sleep disorders occurring with depression is handled in a number of ways, including lifestyle changes. Often as the depression improves, so does the sleep disorder, and the reverse can also be true.

Depression Sleep Medications

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed as they can treat both depression and the sleep disorder. Primarily, these are SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants, but your doctor may prescribe other types as well. Sedative-Hypnotics (sleeping pills) are also commonly prescribed for accompanying sleep disorders. Frequently prescribed drugs include:

Self-Help Strategies for Better Sleeping with Depression

Creating the right sleep environment and developing good sleep habits are crucial for anyone wishing to obtain quality sleep. Sufferers of depression may wish to take additional steps to improve their sleep :

  • Using behavioral therapy to learn about creating positive thought and sleep patterns.
  • Relaxing and doing quiet activities before bedtime. Meditating, reading a book or listening to soft music are good choices.
  • Creating a "worry" or "to-do" list. Keep a pen and paper by your bed to write down any thoughts that concern you or make you anxious. Putting these thoughts down on paper frees your mind to focus on relaxation. Items on the list can be looked at in the morning.
  • When in bed, take deep breaths and focus on relaxation. Center your thoughts on pleasant or neutral subjects.


1 No listed author. Mental Health and Depression Statistics Accessed Aug. 3, 2010,

2 No listed author. Sleep and Depression WebMD. Accessed Aug. 3, 2010,

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Sleep Disorder Treatment for Sleep Problems and Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Turning to a Sleep Disorder Doctor For Your Sleep Problems

Learn how to determine if your sleep problems should be reported to a sleep disorder doctor or family doctor and details about a sleep disorder diagnosis.

Sleep Problems? When to Call a Doctor

While insomnia is the most common type of sleep disturbance and usually disappears on its own, the following sleep disorder symptoms should be reported to a doctor:

  • Disordered sleep that does not correct itself after four weeks with sleep self-help techniques
  • If a sleep disorder is suspected to be related to psychiatric medication, other medication, or an underlying disorder such as depression or chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Snoring loudly, snorting or gasping during sleep
  • Falling asleep during normal situations like driving or talking
  • Constantly feeling fatigued and unrefreshed on awakening
  • Waking to find evidence of being awake during the night, but having no memory of it. For example, evidence might be moved furniture or food left out on the kitchen counter.

Sleep Disorder Diagnosis: How It Works

Once you've reported your sleep disorder symptoms to a doctor, your family doctor or a sleep disorder doctor will attempt to determine the type of sleep disorder and its possible cause. Questions about medications you may be taking, psychiatric diagnoses, chronic snoring, and recent weight gain are commonly asked during a medical exam. Your doctor may also elect to use additional tests and questionnaires such as:

  • a sleep diary: You may be asked to record your sleep-wake cycles and symptoms in a diary for a few weeks.
  • a mental health exam: A full mental health exam may be ordered as anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders are associated with sleep disorders.
  • a sleep questionnaire: A medically-validated questionnaire such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale may be used to assess daytime sleepiness.
  • sleep tests: The doctor may order a sleep study where sleep information is recorded overnight in a lab (known as a Polysomnogram) or give you a device to wear to record movement during sleep (known as Actigraphy).


APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Turning to a Sleep Disorder Doctor For Your Sleep Problems, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Do I Have a Sleep Disorder? 12 Sleep Disorders Symptoms

Trying to figure out if you have a sleep disorder? Here are 12 sleep disorders symptoms. These sleep disorder symptoms may indicate you have a sleep problem.

In its simplest form, sleep disorders symptoms are defined as any troubling sleep-related behavior. The most obvious symptoms of sleep disorders are the inability to fall asleep or the inability to stay asleep, resulting in daytime fatigue. These sleep disorder symptoms, when presented alone, typically indicate insomnia.

Other sleep disorders symptoms include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times, like when driving or during daylight hours
  • Excessive snoring, snorting or gasping sounds while sleeping (generally noticed by the sleep partner)
  • Not feeling rested after sleep
  • Headaches upon waking
  • Experiencing dream-like hallucinations while falling asleep
  • Loss of muscle control occurring with emotion
  • An irresistible urge to move your legs while in bed
  • Movement or speech during sleep
  • An inability to move when transitioning from sleep to wakefulness


APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Do I Have a Sleep Disorder? 12 Sleep Disorders Symptoms, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 19, 2019

Depression and Sleep Disorders

Sleeping too much or too little sleep are symptoms of depression or could be caused by depression. Find out about depression and insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Depression and sleep disorders or sleep problems seem to go hand-in-hand. Any type of sleep disorder has been shown to worsen the symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of Major Depression

Major depression is the most common mood disorder in the US and accounts for almost a quarter of all mental illness. Major depression is characterized by:

  • Feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability or emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of enjoyment in things previously found pleasurable
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • An increase or decrease in sleep

Although a person is considered depressed if any five of these are experienced for two weeks or more, almost all people with depression suffer from some form of sleep disorder. While not fully understood, sleep is clearly linked with mental health and insomnia is considered a hallmark of depression.

Depression and Insomnia (Sleeping Too Little)

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to get to sleep or remain asleep. People with insomnia often wake repeatedly during the night and don't feel rested in the morning. Insomnia can cause or worsen fatigue, already a symptom of depression.

Depression and Hypersomnias (Sleeping Too Much)

While many people with depression sleep too little, it is also common to sleep too much. Sleep can be seen as a way to escape the negative thoughts associated with depression.


1 No listed author. Mental Health and Depression Statistics Accessed Aug. 3, 2010

2 No listed author. Sleep and Depression WebMD. Accessed Aug. 3, 2010

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Depression and Sleep Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Common Types of Sleep Disorders

Covers most common types of sleep disorders including snoring and sleep apnea, insomnia, parasomnias, sleep paralysis, circadian rhythm disorders, and narcolepsy.

There are over 100 identified types of sleep disorders and while specific causes aren't fully understood, contributing factors to sleep disruption are being narrowed down. Below, are descriptions of the most common types of sleep disorders.

Sleep Disorders Types

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Nearly everyone snores on occasion. Snoring is typically produced by the vibration of soft tissues in the nose, throat, and mouth, caused by the relaxation of sleep. However, sometimes there is more to snoring than just disturbing the sleep of the person next to you.

Snoring may also indicate a narrowing upper airway associated with obesity, nasal congestion, a malformation of the area, allergies, asthma, hypothyroidism, adenoid enlargement or a hormonal disorder.

In severe cases, snoring may indicate that a person's breathing is actually stopping during sleep. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Risk factors for this condition include heredity and large neck circumference. This condition is more prevalent in older adults, males and is three times more common in smokers 6. Physical abnormalities can also cause this condition.

While sleep apnea most commonly causes awakening in order to reinstate proper breathing, it may also create a drop in blood oxygen and worsen other disorders such as hypertension, heart failure and diabetes.

An additional form of sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to signal your body to breathe. This rare condition is known as central sleep apnea and primarily appears in individuals with central nervous system conditions or neuromuscular disease but can occasionally occur in healthy individuals at sleep onset.

Sleep apnea is made worse by consuming alcohol which further relaxes the soft tissues around the airway.


Insomnia is a broad class of sleep disorders indicating a problem getting to sleep or staying asleep and is far and away the most common sleep complaint.

Acute insomnia is a common variety and is defined as insomnia that lasts less than three months. Acute insomnia typically results from an identifiable cause such as stress, jet lag, shift-work, a change in the sleeping space such as noise or light, or use of medications such as stimulants. This type of insomnia occurs despite ample opportunity for sleep and impairs daytime functioning.

Longer-term insomnia may be a result of medical or psychiatric conditions, poor sleep habits or medication.


Parasomnias are undesirable experiences that occur "around sleep". Parasomnias include:

  • sleepwalking
  • sleep terrors
  • sleep sex
  • sleep eating
  • sleep paralysis

Despite appearing active or purposeful, the individual retains no memory of these experiences.

REM sleep behaviors, wherein the person acts out their dreams, are also in this class. This type of sleep disorder can be quite dangerous to the individual and those around them, as common behaviors include reaching, punching, kicking, falling out of bed, running or striking furniture. These behaviors often result in injuries, ranging from a minor cut or bruise to severe injuries such as a broken bone or bleeding in the brain. This disorder affects about 4 - 5 people out of 1000 and in about 90% of cases, consists of men in their 50s and 60s.7

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis occurs during the transition from sleeping to waking, either when falling asleep or when waking up. Typically, the individual wakes up, opens their eyes, and finds their body paralyzed. This is commonly accompanied by visual and auditory hallucinations, terror, a sense of a menacing presence and breathlessness. Possible contributing factors to experiencing sleep paralysis include sleep deprivation, sleep schedule disruption, and stress.

While the experience may be frightening, the disorder is not itself harmful and typically does not require treatment. It is thought that 20% - 60% of people experience sleep paralysis at some point in their lives, but few people have a large number of episodes.8 Sleep paralysis occurs during REM sleep and is possibly a result of REM sleep interruption. The disorder may be a symptom of narcolepsy and is also associated with anxiety disorders.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Circadian rhythm disorders occur when the natural body clock gets out of sync with external time cues like the environmental dark-light cycle. This is common with shift-work, jet lag, changing time zones or a lack of external cues for prolonged periods (such as remaining in a room without windows). Circadian rhythm disorders can result in a person falling asleep too early or too late and can create insomnia.


Narcolepsy is a neurological condition resulting from the inability to regulate the states of sleep and wakefulness. The four classic symptoms of narcolepsy are:

  1. excessive daytime sleepiness
  2. sleep paralysis
  3. vivid hallucinations near the onset of sleep (hypnagogic hallucinations)
  4. and a sudden loss of muscle tone triggered by strong emotions (cataplexy).9

It is thought that narcolepsy is caused by a lack of a specific hormone (hypocretin) in the brain.


APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Common Types of Sleep Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Treating Anxiety-Related Sleep Disorder

If your sleep problem, sleep disorder is caused by anxiety or an anxiety disorder, there are self-help and medication treatments for an anxiety-related sleep disorder.

Options for treatment of a sleep disorder caused by or accompanying anxiety include therapy, such as cognitive behavioral, lifestyle changes and medication. Typically as an anxiety disorder improves, so does the accompanying sleep disorder, so treatment of both disorders is important.

Medication for anxiety related sleep disorders may be used on a short-term or long-term basis. Prescribed medications include anti-anxiety drugs, sedative-hypnotics, beta-blockers, and antidepressants. Some common examples are:

Self-Help Strategies for Better Sleeping with Anxiety

Creating the right sleep environment and developing good sleep habits are important to anyone wishing to obtain quality sleep. Additional lifestyle changes particularly helpful for those with anxiety include:

  • Using cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce overall anxiety as well as sleep-related anxiety
  • Doing quiet activities before bed and turning off the TV a half-hour before bedtime
  • Going to sleep only when tired as tossing and turning in bed adds to stress
  • Taking part in active exercise like swimming or aerobics. Exercising should be stopped at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Decreasing anxiety by keeping a book by your bed to write down anxious thoughts and things to remember. Writing these thoughts down can get them out of your mind to allow full focus on relaxation.
  • Not worrying about not getting enough sleep: Because worry is a key component of anxiety, try not to worry about sleep and trust that over time your body will develop its own rhythm. Cover the clock to avoid anxiety over "clock-watching".
  • Meditating before bedtime to help induce a sound sleep
  • Focusing on breath and deep breathing while in bed. Center your thoughts on something peaceful.
  • Avoiding caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and foods high in sugar in the evening


1 Ross, Jerilyn, M.A. The Link Between Anxiety and Sleep Disorders Health Central. Jan 5, 2009.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Treating Anxiety-Related Sleep Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Anxiety and Sleep Disorders

Anxiety and stress can create sleep problems and even lead to a sleep disorder. Plus discover why some anxiety medications can worsen sleep disorders.

Typical anxiety and stress can hinder sleep, and many symptoms of an anxiety disorder can further exacerbate a sleep problem. Many times, anxiety co-occurs with depression, which is also associated with sleep disorders.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders consist of a range of mental illnesses including:

While everyone experiences anxiety or nervousness at times, anxiety disorders differ as they cause distress that negatively interferes with everyday life. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness
  • Problems sleeping, nightmares

Sleep Disorders and Anxiety

Anxiety can cause, or be a symptom of, many sleep disorders. Commonly seen sleep disorders include:

  • insomnia
  • REM behavior disorder, including panic attacks and sleep paralysis

Insomnia is the most universal, and while anxiety is known to induce insomnia, insomnia can also cause or worsen anxiety. Many people with anxiety find themselves awake at night due to fear, worry, obsessive thoughts, nightmares or gastrointestinal problems.

Anxiety and sleep disorders can often create a vicious circle. Anxiety induces a disorder such as insomnia. Lack of sleep then worsens anxiety, which makes insomnia worse, causing more anxiety.

Some antidepressants prescribed for anxiety can also worsen sleep disorders ("Treating Anxiety-Related Sleep Disorder")


1 Ross, Jerilyn, M.A. The Link Between Anxiety and Sleep Disorders Health Central. Jan 5, 2009.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Anxiety and Sleep Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Treatment of ADHD and Sleep Disorders

Both adults and children with ADHD can develop sleep problems. Info on self-help, as well as medication treatment of ADHD and sleep disorders.

Self-Help Treatment of a Sleep Disorder with ADHD

Parents should consult a doctor to rule out physical factors like asthma, enlarged tonsils or allergies which could be affecting a child's sleep. Once these are ruled out, lifestyle changes, ADHD medication schedule changes or additional medication is typically used in the treatment of a sleep disorder. Of particular import to ADHD children with sleep problems:

  • Maintaining a rigorous daily routine - while adults also benefit from routine, it is even more important for children to have the same sleep, wake, meal and activity times every day.
  • Monitoring a child's diet - caffeine is most critical to eliminate from a child's diet, but sugar should also be reduced, particularly in the evening.
  • Giving your child a hot bath before bed - sleep normally occurs when the body cools and having a hot bath can set this process in motion.
  • Avoiding sleep medications - if possible, should be avoided.

Adults also benefit from developing good sleep habits and rigorously sticking to a bedtime routine. For people with ADHD, this routine is individual as some need absolute silence to sleep, while others require white noise; some need a snack before bed, while others can't eat anything before sleep. Trial and error must be used to select the best routine for each person. Universally though, bedtime must be the same every night and naps are to be avoided. Sleep also has to be made a priority, possibly with an alarm set to remind the individual to get into bed and go to sleep.

Medication Treatment of a Sleep Disorder with ADHD

Stimulant-class medication is typically used to treat both children and adults with ADHD. Taking this medication 45 minutes before sleep may help someone with ADHD fall asleep and create a better quality of sleep. While stimulants would normally keep a person awake, some with ADHD find it calms their mind, as it does throughout the day, and this calm allows them to sleep.3

Alternately, some find just the opposite and have to take prescribed stimulant medication far from bedtime. Shorter-acting ADHD medication may also help to improve sleep.

Stimulant medication may also help in the waking process. A person with ADHD can set an alarm about an hour before the desired wake time. When the alarm sounds, they take an initial dose of medication and go back to sleep. A second alarm sounds in an hour when the ADHD medication is reaching its peak blood level, allowing the person to fully get out of bed.3

Sleep disorders may also be treated with additional medications. Common include:


1Dodson, William M.D. ADHD Sleep Problems: Causes and Tips to Rest Better Tonight! ADDitude. Feb/March 2004

2No listed author Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD in Adults WebMD. Accessed Aug. 10, 2010

3No listed author Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Symptoms of ADHD WebMD. Accessed Aug 10, 2010

4No listed author ADHD and Sleep Disorders WebMD. Accessed Aug. 10, 2010

5Peters, Brandon M.D. The Relationship Between ADHD and Sleep Feb. 12, 2009

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Treatment of ADHD and Sleep Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from

Last Updated: September 19, 2019