Have you ever felt tired and drowsy even after sleeping for long hours? Or struggled to stay awake during the day despite having a full night’s sleep? If so, you might be experiencing a sleep-wake disorder. Sleep-wake disorders are a group of conditions that can affect your ability to have restful and refreshing sleep or stay awake during the daytime. In this blog post, we’ll discuss sleep-wake disorders from the perspective of DSM-5, the latest diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals. This post is intended for clients who are curious about sleep-wake disorders and would like to learn more about their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

A DSM-5 Perspective

According to DSM-5, sleep-wake disorders can be classified into three main categories: insomnia-related disorders, hypersomnolence disorders, and circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders. Let’s take a closer look at each category and the disorders they include.

Insomnia-Related Disorders

Insomnia-related disorders refer to the difficulties in initiating or maintaining sleep or waking up too early. Insomnia may be related to various factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, substance use, and medical conditions. The most common types of insomnia-related disorders are primary insomnia, insomnia due to a medical condition, and substance/medication-induced insomnia. Treatment for insomnia-related disorders may involve sleep hygiene education, relaxation techniques, medication, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Hypersomnolence Disorders

Hypersomnolence disorders involve excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nocturnal sleep. People with hypersomnia may feel irresistibly sleepy during the daytime, despite having enough nighttime sleep. Hypersomnolence disorders include narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and recurrent hypersomnia. Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that involves sudden episodes of sleep at inappropriate times. Treatment for hypersomnolence disorders usually involves stimulant medication and behavioral interventions.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders

Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders are characterized by disruptions in the timing of sleep and wakefulness. These disorders are caused by a mismatch between an individual’s internal biological clock and the external environment. Some common types of circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders include delayed sleep-phase syndrome, advanced sleep-phase syndrome, and shift-work disorder. Treatment for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders may involve resetting the biological clock through light therapy, melatonin, and sleep hygiene interventions.


In conclusion, sleep-wake disorders can severely impact our ability to function appropriately in our daily lives. They can affect any age group, and if left untreated, can lead to several health complications. However, these disorders are treatable, and with the right interventions, individuals can improve their sleep quality and quantity, and maintain healthy wakefulness. If you think you might be experiencing a sleep-wake disorder, please consult a healthcare provider or seek the help of a mental health professional. Sleep is fundamental to our physical and emotional well-being, and with a little help, you can get the rest you need to live a healthy and fulfilling life!


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019). Sleep Disorders.
  3. American Sleep Association. (2022). Sleep Disorders.
  4. National Sleep Foundation. (2021). What is Insomnia?
  5. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Narcolepsy.
  6. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2014). Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders.
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2021). Treatment of Sleep Disorders.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email