Having trouble staying awake during the day? Feeling a little agitated because you had difficulty sleeping the night before? If you're finding yourself constantly tossing and turning before sleep, your restlessness could be clinically diagnosed as a chronic sleeping disorder – something that affects more than 40 million Americans every year.
A sleeping disorder means more to your health than missing out on a few hours every night. Consistently getting below the recommended eight hours could lead to a number of symptoms that can include:
- Constant feelings of fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Less control over emotions
- Increased daily stress
- Gradual weight gain or loss
But how can you tell if you are truly suffering from a sleep disorder? Here is a list of common conditions that might be the reason for your restless nights.
The most common sleeping disorder – Insomnia – has less to do with natural factors and more to do with lifestyle choices that can produce a lack of sleep. While most cases of insomnia can be attributed to various forms of stress, sometimes changing up your routine can be the key to getting all the sleep you need. Some tips to help prevent insomnia from occurring include:
- Cutting down on caffeinated beverages
- Getting the proper amount of daily exercise
- Avoiding medications before bed
- Using your bed for sleeping only
While insomnia is extremely frequent, it's also the most treatable sleeping disorder. Applying any of these guidelines to your daily routine can drastically increase the amount of sleep you'll receive.
Another common condition that can affect your rest schedule is sleep apnea, which results from blocked upper airways that can halt sleeping temporarily so the body can regulate breathing again. While some people don't recall these minor sleeping disruptions in the morning, sleep apnea can keep you awake every hour during your sleep, causing sensations of grogginess and fatigue the next morning.
Side effects of sleep apnea often include loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep, and feelings of chest pains and headaches the next day. The best way to treat this condition is to talk to a doctor about obtaining an inhaler, or a positive airway pressure mask that can help your body regulate breathing patterns during sleep.
Narcolepsy is a more severe type of sleeping disorder that prompts moments of extreme drowsiness or uncontrollable sleep attacks through out random periods of the day. These episodes may even happen during a conversation, meeting or even while driving. Common symptoms of narcolepsy can include:
- Sensations of paralysis when waking up or just before sleep
- Sudden lack of muscle control
- Visual or auditory hallucinations before sleep
- Extremely intense dreams
There is no exact cure for narcolepsy besides receiving prescribed medical treatment, so if you are experiencing any of the mentioned side effects, contact a doctor immediately.
Simple ways of improving sleep
While some of these disorders are more severe than others, the bottom line is that there are plenty of lifestyle modifications that can help improve sleeping conditions. Recommendations for getting a better rest include:
- Get to bed earlier
- Maintain a sleep diary monitoring how much sleep you received
- Make sure your sleeping environment is dark, cool and quiet
- Turn off or avoid using electronics right before sleep
If you have tried various remedies to help combat your lack of sleep and have found little to no improvement, consult a doctor or sleep physician today to receive a medical diagnosis of your condition.