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Below is a list of sleep disorders, please see your GP if you think you may be experiencing any of these conditions. Counselling and CBT may help to cope with the impact of living with a sleep disorder, please feel free to contact us at the Sleep Support Project to arrange support.


Narcolepsy is a rare neurological disorder which causes a person to feel excessively sleepy and to often fall asleep at times outwith their control.  The brain is unable to regulate its sleeping/waking patterns, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy (loss of muscle control), falling asleep at inopportune moments (often without warning), sleep paralysis, and vivid dreams similar to hallucinations.  It can be difficult to cope with living with narcolepsy, due to the impact on relationships, work, and can take its toll emotionally.  See your GP if you think you are living with narcolepsy.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Circadian rhythm disorders are when the body clock is out of sync with the environmental 24 hr day/night cycle.  These neurological disorders include: shift work disorders; delayed or advanced sleep phase disorder; jet lag syndrome and non-24 hour sleep wake cycle disorders.  Circadian rhythm disorders can have a significant impact on the person’s quality of life and ability to maintain daily tasks and work responsibilities within ‘standard’ working hours.  Circadian rhythm disorders are relatively rare (or undiagnosed) and widely misunderstood, contributing to isolation, development of depression and anxiety, and a lack of appropriate support including within the workplace.  It can be debilitating living with circadian rhythm disruption, even when maintaining good sleep hygiene, due to the body clock being hardwired to be out of sync.  Thankfully, there are some things that can help manage the condition including light therapy and strict body clock routines.  See your GP if you believe you may have a circadian rhythm disorder.


Insomnia is an inability to sleep, characterised by being unable to get off to sleep, early waking without being able to go back to sleep, frequent waking during the night, and being unable to take a nap during the day even if tired.  Insomnia can be triggered by various things including stress, anxiety or depression, travelling, alcohol or drug use, noise, and shift work.  Insomnia may be temporary, but sometimes can go on for months or even years.  Insomnia can usually be managed with good sleep hygiene, and often counselling or CBT can help to manage any underlying anxiety.  If an inability to sleep is having an impact on your quality of life, mood, or has been going on for some time, see your GP.


Hypersomnia is when a person sleeps excessively, needing significantly more than average sleep than recommended in order to feel rested.  Sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness is usually present if unable to get long stretches of sleep, and the person will usually need to take daytime naps.  This condition can have an impact on being able to function at work, or keep up with daily tasks.  It can be a symptom of depression, but can also contribute to experiencing depression.  Hypersomnia can be a result of a neurological condition, depression, other sleep disorders, or it may have no known cause, known as Idiopathic Hypersomnia.  It also may be a secondary symptom alongside another health condition.  If you are falling asleep during the day and feeling excessively tired and sleepy, see your GP.

Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS)

Often referred to as ‘Sleeping Beauty Syndrome’, people with Kleine-Levin Syndrome experience progressive drowsiness and excessive hypersomnolence, going through episodes of sleeping long stretches throughout the day and night, often only waking to eat, drink or go to the bathroom.  It is a neurological condition which also brings about behavioural changes, mood fluctuations, and confusion.  Symptoms can occur for weeks at a time, can be intermittent over months without any symptoms in-between.  KLS can have a massive impact on the person’s ability to function or undertake daily tasks, and can take its toll emotionally.  See your GP if you think you may be living with KLS.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing during sleep, and risking a lack of adequate oxygen during sleep.  This may lead to regularly interrupted sleep, resulting in constantly feeling tired and unrested.  Someone with sleep apnoea may snore loudly, or gasp and grunt during sleep with short periods of interrupted or laboured breathing.  This condition can have a big impact on quality of life and increases the risk of developing certain conditions.  OSA can also be dangerous.  See your GP if you suspect you are living with sleep apnoea, where they can diagnose the condition and provide ways to manage the condition.


Parasomnias include a range of sleep disruptions such as nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, sleep paralysis and teeth grinding (Bruxism).  Sleepwalking is common in children but when occurring during adulthood it is seen as a significant disorder.  Parasomnias at their extreme can pose significant risk to the person when sleepwalking, and when including other behaviours/actions during sleep it can have a detrimental impact on relationships or even pose a risk to others.

Teeth Grinding or Bruxism is quite common and often linked to stress and anxiety.  It can include unfortunate erosion or damage to teeth and can induce headaches and tiredness during waking hours.


Sleepwalking is classed as being able to perform complex actions and activities when in a deep sleep.  It is quite common in children but less so in adults.  Episodes of sleepwalking last for about 10 minutes and can be triggered by stress, or can be a result of a sleep disorder.  Often, the person may be unaware they have sleepwalked, or have little recollection about what happened.  If you see someone sleepwalking, guide them back to bed or to safety.  See your GP if you are an adult living with regular episodes of sleepwalking.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a common condition of the nervous system, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, where a person experiences involuntary jerking movements of the legs (and sometimes arms) in the evenings and during sleep.  This can happen occasionally or daily, be temporary or ongoing, depending on the severity of the condition.  RLS can cause sleep disruption, feelings of tiredness and daytime sleepiness, and can have a significant impact on quality of life if the symptoms are severe.  Severe RLS can contribute to developing anxiety and depression.  See your GP if you think you may be living with this condition.

Nightmares and Night terrors

Recurrent nightmares or night terrors can be debilitating, affecting the person to the point they may avoid sleeping and develop a fear of sleep and sever sleep deprivation.  The condition can result from previous trauma, significant stress and other mental health issues including PTSD.  Counselling and/or CBT may help along with good sleep hygiene.  Other therapies including EMDR and trauma therapy may be of benefit if appropriate.  Please contact your GP for support if you are experiencing night terrors.