Most of us have experienced trouble sleeping at one time or another. This is normal and usually temporary, due to stress or other outside factors. But if sleep problems are a regular occurrence and interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders cause more than just sleepiness. The lack of quality sleep can have a negative impact on your energy, emotional balance, and health. If you’re experiencing sleeping problems, learn about the symptoms of common sleep disorders, what you can do to help yourself, and when to see a doctor.
Understanding sleep disorders and sleeping problems
Sleep can be a barometer of your overall health. In many cases, people in good health tend to sleep well, whereas those suffering from regular sleeping problems often have an underlying medical or mental health problem, be it minor or serious. Sleeping well is essential to your physical health and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, even minimal sleep loss can take a toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. Ignoring sleep problems and disorders can lead to poor health, weight gain, accidents, impaired job performance, and relationship strain. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
It’s not normal to feel sleepy during the day, to have problems getting to sleep at night, or to wake up feeling exhausted. But even if you’ve struggled with sleep problems for so long that it seems normal, you can still learn to sleep better. You can start by tracking your symptoms and sleep patterns, and then making healthy changes to your daytime habits and bedtime routine. If self-help doesn’t do the trick, you can turn to sleep specialists who are trained in sleep medicine. Together, you can identify the underlying causes of your sleeping problem and find ways to improve your sleep and quality of life.
Any of the following symptoms or issues may indicate a sleep disorder:
- Difficulty staying awake, concentrating or paying attention during the day or during situations, such as driving or meetings
- Difficulty controlling blood pressure or losing weight
- Losing interest in sex and/or the ability to perform
- Feeling irritable, moody, grumpy or depressed
- Becoming limp and/or falling down when experiencing a strong emotion, like laughing or crying
- Frequently experiencing a vivid, dreamlike condition when falling asleep or awakening in which you cannot move
- Thrashing about or experiencing uncontrollable leg movements during sleep
- Snoring or a pause in breathing during sleep
- Waking up choking or gasping for breath Inability to breath while sleeping on your back
- Waking up with a rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating during sleep
- Headaches, dry mouth or a sore throat upon waking
- Waking up frequently to use the bathroom throughout the night
- If you believe you have a sleep disorder, describe your symptoms to your primary care physician. Snoring, for example, may indicate the most common disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, which contributes to many health issues, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Resolving sleep problems may prevent more serious health problems from developing.
There are more than 80 sleep disorders, and some of them can be life threatening.
Some of these disorders include: (click on disorder for more information)