Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. Whether they are caused by a health problem or by too much stress, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common in the United States. In fact, more than 75 percent of Americans between ages 20 and 59 report having sleeping difficulties regularly.

The American Sleep Association estimates that 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder.  Short sleep duration is thought to be responsible for 3-5% of obese adults and drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities.

Most people occasionally experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and other outside influences. However, when these issues begin to occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life, they may indicate a sleeping disorder.  



Allergies and Respiratory Problems

Allergies, colds, and upper respiratory infections can make it challenging to breathe at night. The inability to breathe through your nose can also cause sleeping difficulties.



Nocturia, or frequent urination, may disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up during the night. Hormonal imbalances and diseases of the urinary tract may contribute to the development of this condition.


Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety often have a negative impact on sleep quality. It can be difficult for you to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Nightmares, sleep talking, or sleepwalking may also disrupt your sleep.


Chronic Pain

Constant pain can make it difficult to fall asleep. It might even wake you up after you fall asleep. Some of the most common causes of chronic pain include:


chronic fatigue syndrome


inflammatory bowel disease

persistent headaches

continuous lower back pain

In some cases, chronic pain may even be exacerbated by sleep disorders. For instance, doctors believe the development of fibromyalgia might be linked to problems sleeping.



Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep. It can be caused by jet lag, stress and anxiety, hormones, or digestive problems. It may also be a symptom of another condition. Insomnia can be very problematic for your overall health and quality of life, potentially causing:


difficulty concentrating


weight gain

impaired work or school performance

Unfortunately, insomnia is extremely common in the United States. Approximately 50 percent of American adults experience it at some point in their lives. The disorder is most prevalent among older adults and women.

Insomnia is usually classified as one of three types:

chronic, which is when insomnia happens on a regular basis for at least one-month intermittent, which is when insomnia occurs periodically transient, which is when insomnia lasts for just a few nights at a time

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s

breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep

apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes

hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body —

may not get enough oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two

forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually

when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.

Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but

the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in

the respiratory control center.



Parasomnias are a class of sleep disorders that cause abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep. They include:


sleep talking




teeth grinding or jaw clenching

Parasomnias can occur as a person is falling asleep or at any point in the sleep cycle. If they occur while falling asleep, a person may experience disturbing hallucinations or sleep paralysis, which is when the body is unable to move for seconds or minutes. Sleep paralysis can be quite frightening, especially when it occurs with hallucinations.

Parasomnias that occur during sleep, such as REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), often involve vigorous and harmful dream-enacting behaviors. RBD is a brain disorder that usually occurs in men over 50 years of age, but can affect people of any age who are taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, and people with neurologic disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, narcolepsy or stroke.


Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an overwhelming need to move the legs. This urge is sometimes accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs. While these symptoms can occur during the day, they are most prevalent at night. RLS is often associated with certain health conditions, including ADHD and Parkinson’s disease, but the exact cause isn’t always known.



Narcolepsy is characterized by “sleep attacks” that occur during the day. This means that you will suddenly feel extremely tired and fall asleep without warning. The disorder can also cause sleep paralysis, which may make you physically unable to move right after waking up. Although narcolepsy may occur on its own, it is also associated with certain neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.




Lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve your quality of sleep, especially when they’re done along with medical treatments. You may want to consider:

incorporating more vegetables and fish into your diet, and reducing sugar intake

reducing stress and anxiety by exercising

creating and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule

drinking less water before bedtime

limiting your caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon or evening

decreasing tobacco and alcohol use

eating smaller low carbohydrate meals before bedtime

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can also significantly improve your sleep quality. While you might be tempted to sleep in on the weekends, this can make it more difficult to wake up and fall asleep during the workweek.



There are several studies that suggest essential oils can be useful in aiding a variety of concerns impacting one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Calming the body and mind, easing anxiety, improving respiration and reducing the sensation of pain can be achieved through the use of essential oils without the side effects so often experienced from other types of remedies.

Essential oils can be a great partner for you sleep program though please consult your health care practitioner if adding essential oils while taking medications.   


Essential Oil Sleep Studies


For a study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2016, researchers examined the use of essential oils (including a blend containing bergamot and sandalwood) in a personal aromatherapy device to improve sleep. After giving 65 participants the devices, the researchers found that 94 percent used them to help sleep and 92 percent said that they would continue using them. Of those who used the device, 64 percent reported an improvement in sleep quality.


The most frequently used essential oil for sleep, lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) may be of some benefit when it comes to easing sleep problems. For instance, a 2015 study of 159 postpartum women found that eight weeks of treatment with lavender aromatherapy helped improved sleep quality (compared to those who used a placebo).The participants using lavender oil dropped four drops.


Getting proper rest helps you function well, look your best and helps you maintain an active and vibrant lifestyle.  Wellness is more than the absence of illness, it is the attainment of your true potential to live a healthier, happier, successful and joyful life.  Here’s to your sleep, may your journey lead you to your undiscovered country. 


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