Sleep disorders: insomnia, sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, and enuresis.
All five sleep disorders reviewed in this article can be adequately evaluated in the physician's office by taking a sleep history and conducting a careful general medical and psychiatric assessment. Insomnia, the commonest sleep disorder, is more prevalent among women and elderly and psychosocially disadvantaged persons. Personality factors such as a tendency toward the internalization of emotions and the occurrence of stressful life events also play a major role in the development of chronic insomnia. A multidimensional approach is indicated for the treatment of chronic insomnia; hypnotic drugs should be used only as an adjunct to this treatment. In children, sleepwalking and night terrors (two manifestations of the same pathophysiologic substrate), nightmares, and enuresis are commonly related to developmental factors; counseling and reassurance of the parents is indicated. Psychopathologic disorders are usually present in secondary enuresis, as well as in sleepwalking, night terrors, and nightmares that occur in adulthood. Psychotherapy and the occasional use of psychotropic drugs may be necessary in the treatment given adults with these disorders.