9 Most Common Sleep Disorders

Getting Enough Sleep Image Gallery Sleep disorders often disrupt a peaceful night's slumber -- but they can also affect everyday life. See more sleep pictures.

Whether you have a sleep disorder and you're looking for sleep disorder information, or you're looking to find ways to counteract your sleep disorder, this sleep disorders primer will give you relevant sleep disorders information to help you get the good night's sleep you desperately need.

Lying in bed, waiting for sleep to come can be a bit like spending the night in a slow-motion hell. The clock seems not to move, each environmental sound, from a dripping faucet to the dog snoring at the foot of the bed, seems amplified, and insignificant daytime events can take on a menacing life of their own. Welcome to sleeplessness.

Sleep disorders, from insomnia to sleep apnea to sleep deprivation due to work schedules or caring for sick family members, take an enormous toll on sufferers and society at large. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders and another 20 to 30 million experience sleep problems intermittently. And since sleep disorders increase with aging, those suffering from chronic sleep disorders are expected to rise to 79 million and those suffering from intermittent problems to increase to 40 million by 2010, as the U.S. population ages.

The costs of sleep-related problems are staggering. The commission estimated direct costs of sleeplessness at $15.9 billion annually and another $100 billion or more in indirect costs, such as litigation, property destruction, hospitalization and death resulting from sleep disorders and sleep deprivation.

Sleep problems can be induced by overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol, may be a side effect of medications, or can develop as secondary effects of another illness, such as arthritis, or a bladder condition, or a psychological disorder such as depression. But in a large number of cases, primary sleep disorders are the cause of sleeplessness or disrupted sleep.

Although more than 200 sleep disorders centers exist in the United States, experts estimate that 95 percent of those suffering from sleep disorders go undiagnosed, suffering needlessly from conditions that could be treated.

On the following pages, you will find descriptions of the 9 most common sleep disorders.