What are some common sleep problems?

Many people report that they experience problems with sleep. But what does that really mean?

Sleep problems differ in how severe they are and in their specific features.1 For example, how long you sleep or are awake, how deeply you sleep, and how you fall asleep are all related to certain sleep problems.

In the past, healthcare providers focused on sleep deprivation—not getting enough sleep (also called insufficient sleep)—as a main type of sleep problem. But research has shown that sleep deficiency, a concept that describes a group of sleep problems, is actually a more accurate way to talk about sleep problems.

Sleep deficiency is a term that describes several different sleep issues, including:

  • Not getting enough sleep (sleep deprivation or insufficient sleep)
  • Sleeping at the wrong time of day (not in sync with your body’s natural clock)
  • Not sleeping well or not spending enough time in certain stages of sleep
  • Having a sleep disorder

Sleep deficiency is associated with a number of health and other problems ranging from feeling tired to chronic health conditions. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html and https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency for more information.

Sleep disorders are a group of more than 70 major sleep problems with symptoms that can include inappropriate sleep, severe sleep deprivation, and periods of stopped breathing. People with sleep disorders usually benefit from treatments and monitoring from a healthcare provider. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)—which leads sleep disorder research at NIH—offers in-depth information about many sleep disorders, including:

Visit https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics to search for all sleep-related topics on the NHLBI website.


    1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Sleep deprivation and deficiency. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

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