Sleep Disorders We Treat

There are several available treatments available for sleep disorders. Your individualized treatment plan will depend on what type of sleep problem you're having. Your doctor will provide you with a health assessment and discuss issues such as: your current medical condition, medications you ma be taking, stress levels, and caffeine and alcohol intake. Your doctor may also recommend that you participate in a sleep study.

The Howard University Sleep Disorders Center offers specialized treatment plans for a wide range of sleep disorders that cater to a patient's specific needs based on their individual health status.

Sleep Disordered Breathing (OSA & CSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep and tissue blocks the airway. The person will either briefly wake up or come out of their sleep to re-establish breathing. These episodes can happen a few times or many times each night. When a person stops breathing, oxygen levels in the blood drop. Sleep apnea is most common in men and people who are overweight and can impact the brain and the heart. It has been linked to dangerous health conditions such as heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is a sleep disorder in which a person regularly stops breathing while sleeping due to the brain not communicating to your muscles to take in air. It’s different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which something physically is blocking your breathing. CSA usually doesn't cause a person to snore like OSA, however, some individuals can have both, which is called mixed sleep apnea.

Narcolepsy & Idiopathic

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes overwhelming daytime drowsiness and excessive sleepiness. At times, a narcoleptic can fall asleep suddenly, even while working, driving or eating. The causes of narcolepsy  may involve genetic factors and abnormal signaling in the brain.


Insomnia is the inability to obtain a sufficient amount of sleep in order to feel rested. The sleep disorder is typically characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, and may include early morning awakenings, poor quality sleep or non-refreshing sleep. Insomnia may be caused by a variety of conditions including stress; anxiety and depression; underlying medical conditions and painful ailments; poor sleep habits; or a sleep environment that is not conducive to a good night's rests. Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, periodic limb movements in sleep, or restless legs syndrome, can also cause insomnia.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a group of sleep disorders that all share the common feature of a disruption in the timing of sleep. Circadian rhythm is the name given to your body’s 24-hour “internal clock.” This internal clock controls your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders usually involves a difficulty falling asleep; a struggle to stay asleep, often waking up several times during the sleep cycle; and waking up too early with difficulty going back to sleep.

REM Behavior Disorder

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is a sleep behavior disorder where an individual physically acts out vivid, often unpleasant dreams with vocal sounds and sudden, often violent arm and leg movements. You normally don't move during REM sleep, a normal stage of sleep that occurs many times during the night. About 20 percent of  sleep is spent in REM sleep, the usual time for dreaming, which occurs primarily during the second half of the night. The onset of REM sleep behavior disorder is often gradual and it can get worse over time. REM sleep behavior disorder may also be associated with other neurological conditions.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition that causes a person to move his or her legs during sleep. This urge is often accompanied by unusual sensations in the legs such as itching, burning or prickling. These sensations usually go away with leg movement. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, RLS is believed to be hereditary.

Reach Out

Call (202) 865-2122 to contact the HUH Sleep Disorders Center.