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What is a Non-Organic Sleep Disorder?

As we delve into the realm of sleep disturbances, a less-explored category emerges: non-organic sleep disorders. What lies behind this enigmatic term? Stripped to its essence, it signifies sleep-related challenges that find their roots not in medical conditions or organic factors, but in emotional or psychological sources. These elusive disorders manifest in the quantity, caliber, or chronology of our slumber, often eluding detection.

The Two Categories of Non-Organic Sleep Disorders

The section of non-organic sleep disorders can be broadly divided into two categories: dyssomnias and parasomnias.


Dyssomnias are characterized by predominant disturbances in the amount, quality, or timing of sleep, primarily resulting from emotional factors rather than physical ones. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common dyssomnias:

1. Non-Organic Insomnia

Non-organic insomnia refers to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing poor quality sleep without any identifiable physical cause. It is often triggered by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Individuals with non-organic insomnia may find themselves tossing and turning in bed, unable to find restful sleep.

In many cases, the racing thoughts and worries that keep individuals awake at night are the main culprits behind non-organic insomnia. It’s crucial to address the underlying emotional causes to effectively manage and treat this sleep disorder.

2. Non-Organic Hypersomnia

On the other end of the spectrum, non-organic hypersomnia involves excessive daytime sleepiness and an overwhelming urge to sleep during the day. Despite getting sufficient sleep at night, individuals with this disorder may still feel excessively tired and struggle to stay awake during the day.

Non-organic hypersomnia can have a significant impact on daily activities and overall quality of life. Factors such as stress, emotional distress, or certain medications can contribute to this condition. Identifying and addressing these underlying causes is crucial in managing non-organic hypersomnia.

3. Non-Organic Disorder of Sleep-Wake Schedule

Non-organic disorder of sleep-wake schedule, also known as circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder, involves a disruption in the natural sleep-wake cycle. Individuals with this disorder may experience difficulties in falling asleep or waking up at desired times, leading to a mismatch between their sleep patterns and societal expectations.

This type of non-organic sleep disorder can be particularly challenging for those who have demanding work schedules, travel frequently across time zones, or engage in irregular shift work. Implementing consistent sleep routines and practicing good sleep hygiene can help regulate the sleep-wake schedule and alleviate the symptoms of this disorder.


While dyssomnias focus on disturbances in the amount, quality, or timing of sleep, parasomnias are characterized by abnormal episodic events that occur during sleep. These events can include sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep talking, or even bedwetting.

Parasomnias often arise from emotional or psychological factors, but they can also be influenced by external stimuli or underlying sleep disorders. Understanding the triggers and implementing appropriate management strategies, such as creating a calming sleep environment or practicing relaxation techniques, can help individuals cope with and reduce the impact of parasomnias on their sleep quality.

Non-organic sleep disorders encompass a range of conditions that primarily stem from emotional or psychological causes, rather than organic factors. Understanding the two main categories—dyssomnias and parasomnias—can shed light on the complexities of these sleep disorders. By addressing the underlying emotional triggers and adopting healthy sleep habits, individuals can take control of their sleep health and pave the way for restful nights and energized days.