At first glance, Megan appeared to have ADHD. She couldn’t sit still, struggled to focus, was easily distracted, and frequently forgot things. She even convinced a doctor that she had ADHD and took some medication which only made matters worse, not better. Frustrated and confused, she became worried that she had a more severe mental disorder and thought she was losing her mind.

One of the commonly overlooked areas in mental health is sleep disorders. A person can appear to have depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, thyroid problems, and chronic fatigue syndrome when actually they have a sleep disorder. This was true for Megan who actually had narcolepsy and not ADHD. When she took the stimulant medication, this made her sleep patterns worse resulting in an increase of her symptoms.

To help sort through the possible sleep disorders, it is best to be evaluated by a sleep expert. Their analysis is far more thorough through use of a sleep study and other testing. Being able to pinpoint the specific type of disorder saves time, money and frustration. Here is a list of sleep disorder symptoms designed to be used with a person who might not be aware they might have a sleeping problem.

  1. Complaints that your snoring is extremely loud.
  2. Difficulty waking up in the morning even after several alarms.
  3. Hallucinations, muscle deterioration, and fainting during the day.
  4. Difficulty staying asleep.
  5. After traveling, has a headache, nausea, tired, and unable to sleep.
  6. Walking in your sleep.
  7. Difficulty staying awake during the day.
  8. Unable to move upon waking for a long period of time.
  9. Difficulty falling asleep.
  10. Need more sleep during wintertime.
  11. Acting out sexually while still sleeping.
  12. Screaming or fighting while sleeping.
  13. Falling asleep during conversations, walking, driving, or working.
  14. Unwanted physical action during sleep.
  15. Daytime moodiness and difficulty concentrating.
  16. Strong and long dream cycles.
  17. Pattern of sleeping less than 6 hours a night.
  18. Pattern of sleeping more than 9 hours a night.
  19. Talking during sleep.
  20. Hearing loud sounds while sleeping that are not occurring.
  21. Frequent nightmares.
  22. Sleep feels poor and light.
  23. Jerking awake, startled responses.
  24. Lower legs burn, ache, twitch, itch, and tingle while falling asleep.
  25. Pattern of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.
  26. Pattern of going to bed earlier and waking up later.
  27. Hallucinations while falling asleep.
  28. Hitting or attacking partner during a sleep cycle.
  29. Frequently waking up during the night.
  30. Unsure of location upon waking up.
  31. Snorts, chokes, or gasps during sleep.
  32. Leg cramps during the night.
  33. Difficulty going back to sleep.
  34. Dreaming immediately upon falling asleep.
  35. Wake up with chest pains, dry throat, nasal congestion or short breath.
  36. Needing to consume pills to sleep on a regular basis.
  37. Pauses in breathing while sleeping.
  38. Acting out dreams during sleep cycle.
  39. Strong desire to move your limbs while sleeping.
  40. Unsatisfactory sleep upon waking.

Checking any one of these items, could indicate a sleep disorder and should be followed up with a sleep expert. Sadly, sleep disorders have become the forgotten area of mental health yet it constitutes a third of a person’s day.