Psychological sleep disorders

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  • Psychological sleep disorders
    • There are two types of sleep disorders - primary and secondary.
      • Primary sleep disorders - not related to any other problem - they are the problem themselves. E.g. problems going to sleep, problems staying awake or problems with waking up.
      • Secondary sleep disorders - stem from another problem, such as pain (keeping someone awake), jet lag or stress (affecting the persons sleeping patterns.
    • Insomnia - the most common sleep disorder. When someone cannot go to sleep or cannot stay asleep. Some prescribed drugs can cause it and so can other mental illnesses or stressful life events.
      • Often treated using prescribed drugs, rather than a sleep disorder clinic. Other treatments involve teaching the sufferer to relax and teaching them to focus on positive thoughts when they go to bed. These treatments can be carried out in a sleep lab.
    • Hypersomnia - when people feel very sleepy at all times of the day. Narcolepsy (a brain disorder where people have sudden attacks of sleep in the day) can cause this. It can also be caused by not sleeping properly throughout the night e.g. because of breathing difficulties rather than any psychological problems.
    • Circadian rhythm disorders - disorders of the sleep-wake cycle. They cause problems with the bodies 24-hour rhythm (body clock). It is the pattern of sleeping at night and being awake in the day. If there are problems with the sleep-wake cycle then the body clock can be badly affected. These can occur when people have different shifts at work that require them to go to bed at different times, so the body clock cannot settle to one pattern. Using bright lights at certain times can reset the body clock.
    • Parasomnias - disorders that occur when someone is asleep, such as nightmares, sleep-walking and sleep terrors. Sleep-walking happens during non-REM sleep. Sleep terrors are when someone wakes up in non-REM sleep because they feel very agitated. Teeth grinding and bedwetting are also problems that are featured in parasomnias. Psychotherapy can be used to help parasomnias. Relaxation therapy is also used.


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