health & wellness

Eight Causes of Sleep Disorders In Adults

Sheena Joseph | Sep 10 2019

Countless people struggle to sleep from time to time. Some have difficulty falling asleep and others have trouble staying asleep. Waking up too early and not feeling well-rested in the morning are also common signs of a sleep disorder. However, the thought of sleep disorders is limited to insomnia. There are other sleep disorders that are as common as insomnia. Some of them are sleep apnea (abnormal breathing pattern while sleeping), restless leg syndrome (urge to move the legs while trying to sleep), and Narcolepsy (falling asleep suddenly during daytime stemming from extreme sleeplessness at night). Most people live with sleep disorders without understanding the cause of it. Here are a few commonly seen causes of sleep disorders in adults.

1. Poor Habits



If your troubles stem from poor sleeping habits, you are lucky. It is the easiest one to fix. All you have to do is train your body to sleep and wake up at a fixed time. Most people with poor sleeping habits spend their time binge-watching a series, playing video games, or partying. Irregular bedtime schedules come with daytime naps too. Feeling sleepy during the afternoon or all the time is natural because your body is not rested. It is looking for a window to sleep. It is one of the most common causes of sleep disorders in adults. And the solution is simply a change in lifestyle.

2. The Diet



What you eat and when you eat are factors often overlooked when trying to deal with sleep disorders. Your body is supposed to rest at night. Eating heavy meals late in the day will force the body to work overtime. You may even experience heartburn. This will also stop the brain from relaxing the muscles and inducing sleep. Try not to consume fibre-rich foods after four in the evening. And be sure to have dinner at least two hours before going to bed. Midnight snacks are one of the common causes of insomnia. If you are already in the habit of eating snacks at night, you are bound to feel hungry at the time. Drink a glass of water or a calming herbal tea instead of snacks.  

Also Read: These 8 Healthy Foods Can Badly Affect Your Sleep

3. Stimulants

Similar to ‘what you eat’, ‘what you drink’ also matters. Commonly found stimulants are caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. All three of them are common causes of sleep disorders in adults. Consuming any of them in the latter half of the day can prevent you from falling asleep. Chain smokers often end up with insomnia because the nicotine in tobacco products is in the bloodstream. 


In the case of alcohol, it helps some people to fall asleep. It has created a misconception that sipping alcohol with dinner is great for sleep. But the truth is that it will prevent the deeper stages of sleep and you might wake up in the middle of the night. You will not feel rested even after sleeping through the night because the brain couldn’t enter the deeper stages. The list of caffeinated drinks that you should avoid isn’t limited to coffee and tea. Cola and many other aerated drinks contain caffeine.

4. Disturbing Environment


This is another easy-to-tackle cause of sleep disorders in adults. There is a reason that the body is accustomed to sleeping at night. It is a time with no light and noise. Or at least, the night is supposed to be quiet and dark. If you are trying to sleep in an environment that is noisy and bright, it is only natural that you are not able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Put opaque curtains on the window and close all entrances of sound before going to sleep. You also should pay attention to a comfortable bed. It will help you to relax and drift into sleep.

Also Read: Eight Ways To Fall Asleep Instantly

5. Chronic Stress


Sleep disorders are one of the many impacts of stress on the body. If your brain cannot stop worrying, it will not be able to sleep. Stress also disrupts the hormone balance in the body. Other symptoms like pain, weak immunity, and illness also drive sleep away. It is one of the hard-to-tackle causes of sleep disorders in adults. Popping a sleeping pill is not a solution. In this case, you need to seek help to deal with stress. Once you have managed to eliminate the condition, your body will be ready to rest.

Also Read: Nine Of The Best Apps To Manage Your Stress

6. Mental Health Issues



Similar to stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression are also common causes of sleep disorders in adults. Depression is often accompanied by insomnia. In fact, it is one of the major causes of insomnia in females. Trouble falling asleep despite being tired and waking up early without an alarm are common signs of depression. PTSD and anxiety may trigger sleep disorder as both come with physical manifestations. You need professional help to deal with these issues before dealing with the sleep disorder. In most cases, better health will automatically bring in better sleep. 

Also Read: 10 Impacts Of Depression On Body

7. Health Problems



Chronic pain and other discomforts are also capable of preventing sleep. Health conditions like heart disease, asthma, diabetes, GERD, and an overactive thyroid can cause great discomforts in the body. These will keep you awake either worrying about them or due to the pain. Sleep apnea, one of the common sleep disorders, disrupts breathing multiple times in the middle of the night. This will prevent you from completing all stages of sleep, even if you manage to go back to fall asleep. Restless legs syndrome also has a similar impact on the body. Sometimes the medications for health problems cause sleep disorder rather than the condition itself.

8. Genetics


Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder characterised by abnormal signalling in the brain. Genetic factors are believed to be involved in this condition. It is one of the less common causes of sleep disorders in adults. Main symptoms of narcolepsy are extreme sleepiness during the day, weak muscles, loss of muscle tone in the wake hours, and hallucinations. You may even experience sleep paralysis if you manage to fall asleep. It is caused by a lack of hypocretin - a brain chemical which regulates sleep. The condition is caused by the immune system attacking the parts of the brain.