Difference Between Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

Insomnia vs Sleep Apnea
 

Insomnia and sleep apnea refer to two sleeping disorders that should not be confused with one another as there is a definite difference between them. Insomnia is a condition where an individual has difficulty in sleeping. On the other hand, sleep apnea is a condition where the breathing of the individual gets interrupted during sleep. This highlights that insomnia and sleep apnea are two different disorders. However, both disorders disrupt the performance of the individual in various manners. Through this article, let us examine the differences between the two sleeping disorders, insomnia and sleep apnea.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia can be considered as a sleeping disorder where the individual has difficulty in sleeping. This could either mean the inability to fall asleep or else staying asleep. A person who suffers from insomnia shows lethargic movements in daily activities. This affects the performance of the individual. It can lead to other issues such as problems with concentration, memory, anxiety, immune system function, irritability, fatigue, and even reduced reaction time. He can experience a lack of sleep due to the lower number of hours that the individual can sleep or else due to the quality of sleep.

When speaking of insomnia, there are mainly three categories. They are,

  • Transient insomnia
  • Acute insomnia (Short-term insomnia)
  • Chronic insomnia

Transient insomnia lasts for days or maximum weeks. Acute insomnia also known as short-term insomnia lasts for several weeks. Chronic insomnia can last for months or even years. According to psychologists, insomnia can be seen in females more than in males.

Insomnia can be caused due to medical conditions, hormones, psychological problems, disruptions in circadian rhythm such as jet lag, during pregnancy, etc.

Difference Between Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is also a sleeping disorder just as insomnia. However, this occurs when the breathing of the individual gets interrupted during sleep. This denotes that the breathing stops during sleep in which case the oxygen intake gets disrupted. Due to this condition the individual is unable to get a proper sleep and ends up in light sleep. This affects the performance of the individual. Just as in the case of insomnia, sleep apnea can lead to problems in concentration, fatigue, etc. Psychologists believe that it can even lead to other medical conditions such as heart disease, strokes, weight gain.

Mainly, there are three categories of sleep apnea. They are,

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Complex sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is when the soft tissues at the back of the throat block the airway. This makes the individual snore. Central sleep apnea is when the signaling between the brain and the muscles get disrupted. Finally, complex sleep apnea is a fusion of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

 Insomnia vsSleep Apnea

Sleep apnea patient using a CPAP mask

What is the difference between Insomnia and Sleep Apnea?

• Definitions of Insomnia and Sleep Apnea:

• Insomnia is a condition where an individual has difficulty in sleeping.

• Sleep apnea is a condition where the breathing of the individual gets interrupted during sleep.

• Category:

• Both insomnia and sleep apnea are sleeping disorders.

• Scope:

• Sleep apnea is more of a physical disorder, whereas insomnia captures a much broader scope.

• Causes:

• Insomnia can be caused due to mental problems that the individual experiences such as depression.

• This is not so for sleep apnea.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Insomnia by Alyssa L. Miller (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Sleep apnea patient using  a CPAP mask by Magnus Manske (CC BY-SA 2.0 de)