A sleep disorder (somnipathy) is any disruption in the sleep patterns of an individual. While some sleep disorders may leave you feeling unrefreshed, a number of symptoms are more severe including excessive sleepiness, snor¬ing, difficulty falling asleep during normal sleeping hours and abnormal be¬haviors such as restless leg syndrome. There are even disorders that cause you to get too much sleep. Insomnia is considered a sleep disorder.

Particular behaviors during normal daytime activities are telltale signs of sleep deprivation. Occasionally fall asleep while driving? Feel irritable or sleepy during the day? Have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, such as when watching television or reading? Have difficulty paying attention or concen¬trating at work, school, or home?

Each type of sleep disorder has its own particular symptoms, but each result in some of the above signs of sleep deprivation.

If you suspect that you are not getting enough sleep or that you might have a sleep disorder, speak to your physician or a sleep specialist. If your health care professional feels that you may have a sleep disorder they may ask that you keep a sleep diary, or they may even have you stay overnight at a sleep center for observation.

Insomnia may mean you have a hard time going to sleep or that you have a hard time staying asleep. Usually, you will know if you are experiencing insomnia because you will remember tossing and turning or being awake at night. Insomniacs typically complain of being unable to close their eyes or “rest their mind” for more than a few minutes at a time.

Insomnia can be caused by fear, stress, anxiety, medications, herbs, caffeine, depression, or other mental conditions and sometimes occurs for no apparent reason. An overactive mind or physical pain may also be causes. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it.

There are behavioral treatments for insomnia. One of these relaxation techniques is practiced by tensing certain muscle groups and then totally relaxing them. Another relaxation method calls for an individual to repeat a set of visualizations to induce a state of relaxation.

It is also good to be aware of and manage the amount of stress in your life which can allow you to more easily relax at night when it’s time to sleep.

Stimulus control therapy reassociates the bed and bed¬room with sleeping by limiting the amount of time spent in the bedroom for non-sleep activities.

Reducing the use of stimulants and depressants and avoid¬ing big meals just before bed can help reduce the risk of insomnia episodes.

There are also medicinal treatments for curing or reducing insomnia. The most commonly-used class of drugs prescribed for insomnia includes drugs such as temazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, and midazolam as well as newer drugs such as Ambien and Lunesta. Ambien and Lunesta have a cleaner side effect profile than benzodiazepines but do appear to cause psychological dependence and physical dependence.

There is also a hormone that has proved effective for some insomniacs in regulating the sleep/waking cycle and that is the hormone melatonin.

To help reduce or cure insomnia, it is best to try the natural methods to relax before turning to any type of drugs, whether over-the-counter or prescription medications. It is also advised to get a good physical from your doctor, to see if your insomnia is not a symptom of a more serious medical condition before starting any medications.