Sleep Disorders

There is a great variety in sleepdisorders. An important distinction between the various types is whether the main problem is short sleep and day-time fatigue or a lot of sleep, while still feeling tired in the day-time. In the first case, short sleep, the problem usually is a problem of initiating and maintaining sleep or rather insomnia. Sleepproblems that involve prolonged sleep, could be sleep-apnea or narcolepsy.


This type of sleepproblem is most important for this site. Most types of insomnia can be influenced by psychological treatment. It is important, however, to investigate if the insomnia is not caused something else. One’s sleep pattern is readily changed by external and internal conditions, like street noise or pain and itches. Sometimes these conditions can be handled more easily that the resulting sleepproblem. Insomnia can, for instance be secondary to depressive complaints. So if insomnia is accompanied by feelings of depression, it may be wise to consult you GP and seek treatment. Anti-depressive medication may also relieve the insomnia.

Another cause of insomnia is the use of alcohol. The belief that alcohol helps you sleep is quite widespread. However, a limited amount of alcohol may help you get to sleep, but more often than not, sleep will become disrupted and unsatisfying.

In a good many cases there is no direct explanation for insomnia. Sometimes the cause can be stress or anxiety, resulting from day-time experiences, but insomnia can also have become a habit or be ‘conditioned’. In this case the insomnia may have had a clear cause in the past, but can still linger on after this cause disappeared. In this case the programme that is presented on this site could be very helpful.

Sleepdisorders with excessive sleepiness

The main complaint in this type of sleepdisorder is extreme day-time sleepiness, an increase in the duration of sleep, a decrease in day-time performance and an irresistible tendency to fall asleep. One of these conditions is sleepapnea. Sleep-apnea mostly is accompanied by heavy, intermittent snoring. This disorder is often caused by a blocking of the upper airway, while asleep. It requires immediate medical attention!

Another condition that is accompanied by excessive sleepiness is narcolepsy. Like sleep-apnea narcolepsy is characterised by ‘sleep-attacks’. A second symptom, distinguishing narcolepsy from sleep-apnea, is cataplexy. In this the main muscles suddenly lose their tension, causing people to collapse. Cataplexy can last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes and is often provoked by sudden emotions. Combined with this people with narcolepsy often experience ‘sleep-paralysis’, in which one feels paralysed and is unable to move for a short period after waking up. A last, less frequent, symptom is ‘day-time dreaming’ or hypnagogic hallucinations.

Want to read more about the assesment of the nature of sleep problems