Sleep disorders: causes and consequences

Verified on 08/09/2022 by PasseportSanté

Insomnia, hypersomnia, hyposomnia… Sleep disorders affect more and more French people. However, poor quality sleep has an impact on daily life.

What causes sleep disorders? What are the symptoms ? How to cure it ?

Study: 1 in 3 people suffer from sleep disorders

According to an Inserm study published in 2017, one in three people suffers from sleep disorders.

A good night’s sleep is 3 to 5 cycles of 90 minutes on average. However, the French sleep on average 1h30 less than 50 years ago, and 45% of 25-45 year olds consider that they sleep less than they need. And for good reason, many of them suffer from sleep disorders.

What is a sleep disorder?

We call sleep disorders the phenomena that prevent you from sleeping well: the nights are interrupted, too short or too long. There are three main types of sleep disorders:


They include lack of sleep (temporary or chronic insomnia), excess sleep (hypersomnia), sleep-wake rhythm disorder, but also sleep disorders related to taking medication and alcohol consumption, as well as narcolepsy.


These are psychic and/or behavioral events that occur during sleep or during falling asleep (confusional awakenings, night terrors, somnambulism, bruxism, sleep disorders associated with paradoxical sleep and nocturnal enuresis).


Sleep disorders can also have a neurological or psychiatric origin.

What are the symptoms of sleep disorders?



It is mainly characterized by:

  • Difficulty falling asleep;
  • nocturnal awakenings with difficulty falling back to sleep;
  • early morning awakenings;
  • consequences on the day (fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, concentration and memory problems).


It translates into:

  • an excessive need for sleep during the day;
  • an inability to fight sleep;
  • difficulty getting up in the morning;
  • concentration and memory problems;
  • hallucinations;
  • spatio-temporal disorientation;
  • muscle weakness.


night terrors

They appear in the first hours after falling asleep. The child begins to scream, sweats excessively and sees his heart rate increase.


They occur during sleep and can cause an awakening.


It results in automatic walking while the subject is asleep and unconscious.


It is characterized by an involuntary and unconscious grinding of the teeth. It is especially the spouse who finds himself embarrassed to sleep.

Nocturnal enuresis

It concerns young children and results in urinary incontinence.

What are the causes of sleep disorders?

The causes vary depending on the type of disorder.

Occasional insomnia

It most often results from significant stress, an environment unsuitable for sleep (light, noise, room temperature too high, bad mattress, swelling of the partner, etc.), taking certain medications or even consumption. exciting after 5 p.m. (coffee, tea). The associated consequences, in particular daytime fatigue, disappear as soon as the cause is resolved.

chronic insomnia

It can be the consequence of gastroesophageal reflux disease, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), restless legs syndrome or even asthma.

The origin of narcolepsy is not well known, but it would be genetic and the cause of sleepwalking is still not clearly identified.

What are the consequences of sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are responsible for deep fatigue that has repercussions on daily life:

  • Irritability;
  • mood disorders ;
  • concentration and memory problems;
  • weakening of the immune system;
  • susceptibility to infections;
  • increased risk of developing a chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.

On the psychological level, an accumulation of fatigue can cause a drop in morale, even depression.

What to do in case of sleep disorders?

Sleep is essential for recovery, both physically and cognitively. Sleep disorders therefore require prompt treatment.

Insomnia can be treated by:

  • Relaxation techniques such as sophrology, meditation, yoga, or therapy such as CBT (behavioral and cognitive therapy);
  • sleeping pills: they can help you fall asleep, but they must be used for a short time.

Hypersomnia must be the subject of a specialist consultation in sleep medicine: a treatment allowing you to stay awake will be administered.

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Sleep disorders: causes and consequences

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