Warning Signs of a Sleep Disorder
Everyone has experienced troubles with falling asleep at some point in life. But should you be worried about your sleeping problems? We have selected ten sleep disorder warning signs:
- For starters, if it takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep regularly, it’s a warning sign.
- If you’re experiencing fatigue and irritability throughout the day, even after you’ve slept 7 or 8 hours the night before.
- If you’re waking up during the night and then find it difficult to go back to sleep.
- If you find yourself often taking long naps in the daytime.
- If you have trouble concentrating at work or school.
- If you happen to frequently fall asleep while watching TV or reading a book.
- If you wake up too early every morning.
- If you are snoring loudly or have any other difficulty with breathing while being asleep.
- If you experience a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs, especially at bedtime.
- If you need caffeine or some other stimulant to stay awake during the day.
If you find yourself experiencing some of these warning signs, you can try to self-diagnose by keeping a sleep journal. You can record how many hours you sleep, the quality of sleep, and what factors affected your sleeping, like consumption of caffeine or alcohol, or naps you took during the day. Keep the journal for a few weeks and then analyze what habits could be interfering with your sleep.
With your journal ready, you can make an appointment with a doctor and answer his questions about your sleep more easily. The doctor will also probably ask you about stress, any medications you take, or about your lifestyle in general. They might send you to a “sleep lab” where a specialist would observe your heart, brain function, and breathing while you are asleep to reach a diagnosis.
Types of Sleep Disorders
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia experience an inability to fall or stay asleep. This results in functional impairment the next day. The duration of sleep that people with insomnia manage to get varies greatly, and it is mainly related to profession, employment status, marital status, and state of residence. If you have other chronic health conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, the chances of insomnia to affect you get higher.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
RLS is an uncomfortable creeping sensation that can cause aches and pains in the legs that make it difficult to fall asleep. Most people who have a severe form of this condition are middle-aged or older. Also, women are twice as likely to have this condition than men. RLS is considered as a neurological disorder, so the treatment is different in comparison to other sleep disorders.
Sleep apnea means experiencing interrupted sleep caused by periodic gasping or snorting noises, or a person might stop breathing a couple of times during sleep hours. People with sleep apnea don’t get enough oxygen while they sleep, which leads to sleep interruption and difficulty.
This condition is most commonly treated with a small machine and mask that administer pressure on the sinuses during sleep (CPAP). Oral appliances and even surgery may be an option for people with sleep apnea.
It’s important to have in mind that sleep disorders can be caused by a medical condition. Nasal and sinus inflammation, asthma, diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, and clinical depression are often linked to sleep disorders.
Factors that are non-medical but also can contribute to developing sleep disorders are poor sleep habits, lifestyle factors, stressful circumstances, diet, etc.
You should first pay attention to what is causing your sleep troubles. Then, you can focus on alleviating the symptoms of your condition. Treatments vary according to the diagnosis and cause of the sleep disorder. For example, relaxation techniques are recommended for insomnia. Natural remedies like lavender oil or acupuncture are widely practiced. And of course, some medications help you fall asleep and stay asleep.