What is dyssomnia?

Dyssomnia refers to a group of sleep disorders that cause difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. We estimate that 1-15% of adults suffer from some form of disorders. Symptoms can range from excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia and fatigue to difficulty concentrating. Treatment is often tailored to the individual’s specific needs, and may include lifestyle changes, behavioral therapy, medications, and, in rare cases, surgery.

Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

The most prominent symptom of dyssomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or both. People with such a disorder may also experience other sleep-related symptoms such as waking up frequently throughout the night, feeling unrested after sleep, waking up earlier than desired, and feeling very sleepy during the day. They may experience anxiety, irritability, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings.

A variety of factors can cause dyssomnia, including lifestyle factors such as stress, poor sleep habits, jet lag, and certain medications. Other factors include mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, medical conditions such as asthma or sleep apnea, and certain substances such as alcohol and caffeine.

The treatment of dyssomnia depends on the underlying cause. For example, if the cause is lifestyle-related, such as stress or poor sleep habits, then lifestyle changes can be effective in helping to ease symptoms. These changes can include practicing relaxation techniques before bed, avoiding caffeine in the evening, establishing a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding naps during the day. For those with mental health disorders, treatment may include psychotherapy, medication, or both. For those with medical conditions such as sleep apnea and asthma, treatment may involve lifestyle changes and/or the use of medical devices such as a CPAP machine or inhalers. Sleeping medications may be prescribed for short-term use in order to help regulate sleep patterns.

The Types of Dyssomnia

While the symptoms and patterns of these disorders can vary, there are three distinct primary types of dyssomnia: primary insomnia, secondary insomnia, and other variations.

Primary insomnia is a sleep disorder in which difficulty falling or staying asleep is the major symptom. Those suffering from primary insomnia typically have difficulty either falling asleep initially or staying asleep. This type of dyssomnia can be caused by a variety of factors, such as stress, anxiety, depression, lifestyle habits, or certain medications.

Secondary dyssomnia is a sleep disorder that results from another medical or mental health condition and is not the primary disorder. Common causes of secondary insomnia include chronic pain, breathing disorders, or medication side effects.

Finally, there are other variations of dyssomnia that can result from lifestyle choices, such as shift work or jet lag. These types can be caused by traveling across multiple time zones or having an irregular sleep schedule due to work or other commitments. No matter what variation you may have, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.

The Impact on Sleep Quality

Dyssomnia can have a profound effect on an individual’s overall health and quality of life. Inadequate sleep can lead to a variety of physical and mental health issues, such as fatigue, irritability, depression, and anxiety. With the constant disruption of a good night’s sleep, the body’s ability to regulate hormones and neurotransmitters is compromised. This can lead to a decrease in the production of hormones such as melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles, and serotonin, which plays a role in mood regulation. These hormone imbalances can have a cascading effect on the body’s ability to regulate appetite, leading to weight gain. This can further contribute to a variety of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Dyssomnia can lead to an increased risk of accidents because of drowsy driving and a decreased ability to focus and concentrate. In order to combat the effects, it is important to talk to a healthcare professional about treatments or lifestyle changes. It is also important to practice good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, limiting naps during the day, and establishing a regular sleep schedule.


Dyssomnia is a broad term used to describe a variety of sleep disorders that can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. While many such disorders can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications, it is important to seek medical attention and treatment if symptoms persist. Without proper treatment, it can cause long-term physical and mental health issues.