Genetic underpinnings for sleep disorders in humans remain poorly identified, investigated and understood. This is due to the inherent complexity of sleep and a disruption of normal sleep parameters in a number of neurological disorders. On the other hand, there have been steady and remarkable developments in the investigation of sleep using model organisms such as Drosophila. These studies have illuminated conserved genetic pathways, neural circuits and intra-cellular signaling modules in the regulation of sleep. Additionally, work in model systems is beginning to clarify the role of the circadian clock and basal sleep need in this process. There have also been initial efforts to directly model sleep disorders in flies in a few instances where a genetic basis has been suspected. Here, we discuss the opportunities and limitations of studying sleep disorders in Drosophila and propose that a greater convergence of basic sleep research in model organisms and human genetics should catalyze better understanding of sleep disorders and generate viable therapeutic options.