If you feel that you’re not sleeping well, but can’t work out why, you may have a sleep disorder. Dr Giselle Withers (clinical psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (sleep physician) discuss common sleep symptoms people present with and the different sleep disorders.

 Video timeline:

  • 00:00 – 02:21 What are common symptoms and sleep disorders seen in the clinic?
Dr Giselle Withers

Dr Giselle Withers


Dr Giselle Withers is a Clinical Psychologist with over 15 years experience working across private and public health services in Australia and in the UK. Giselle has years of experience with yoga and also runs mindfulness groups online and at the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre. For information on mindfulness classes, check out Giselle’s site, A Mindful Way.


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Giselle Withers: So David, in your work as a sleep physician at Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, you see a range of different sleep problems. Can you describe a few of those and some of the common problems people present you with?

David Cunnington: People come for a range of different reasons and in terms of symptoms, it often breaks down to:

  • I’m having trouble sleeping, getting to sleep, staying asleep
  • I’m feeling tired so I’m feeling that sleep is not working for me, or
  • Strange things are happening during sleep and that’s often sort of a patient level of what the symptoms are clustered to

When we try and think of it about what the sleep disorders are or the different styles of sleep disorders, we really group them into one group called hypersomnia and that’s really excessive sleepiness conditions where people are feeling more tired than they expect to and it’s not because of something else.

Then there’s the insomnias where people have trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep and another form of insomnia can be just feeling like sleep is not as restorative as what it could be or feeling that sleep is close to the surface. There are circadian rhythm disorders which are body clock disorders so people can’t get to sleep at the right time or can’t wake up at the right time.

Then there’s what we call parasomnias. Think of those as funny things that happen at night and movements that happen at night. So while people who are asleep, they may be sleepwalking or sleep-talking or twitching legs or yelling out. It’s actually surprisingly common but often people don’t talk about it much and then the other group of disorders we see is people who just feel like they’re not sleeping well in conjunction with other sleep problems or health problems, be it physical health and mental health, so depression and not sleeping well or arthritis and pain and not sleeping well.

Then there’s a separate group again of sleep breathing disorders.They include snoring and sleep apnea. Sometimes people just get a sense that I’m snoring or my partner said I stop breathing at night and I feel like I’m not sleeping well.

Giselle Withers: Great, thank you.

Need more information about how you can sleep better?

At Sleephub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a comprehensive FAQs page with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions.

Check our resources or take our Sleep Wellness Quiz for a free assessment of elements that may be keeping you from a good night’s sleep.

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