If you aren’t sleeping well, you may have a sleep disorder. Not getting a good night’s sleep can be frustrating and can have a massive impact on your day to day life and overall sense of wellbeing. So if this sounds like you, the sooner you find out the cause, the better.
There are lots of places you can do your research, and when trying to sort through the information, you should pay attention to the healthcare website design. A website that’s organized so you can easily find what you are looking for and contains information from reputable sources is likely to be more helpful.
If your lack of sleep is affecting you, you should make an appointment with your doctor. He will ask you questions such as whether you are feeling stressed if you are taking any medication or have any underlying medical conditions. He will also inquire about your lifestyle, such as how much caffeine and alcohol you drink.
Initially, the doctor might recommend making specific changes to help improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Useful suggestions include:
- Practicing good sleep hygiene where you go to bed and get up at the same time each day
- Stop taking daytime naps
- Try to unwind before bedtime by doing relaxing activities such as reading a book
- Stop using screens in the hours before bedtime
- Stop doing activities that might cause your stress
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool
- Wear earplugs
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime
- Stop smoking
- Get more exercise
- Avoid heavy meals before bed
If none of these work, your doctor may suggest taking part in a sleep study. During the study, you’ll be monitored overnight, usually hooked up to a machine to see what happens during the night when you try to get to sleep.
It may be that you have one of the following conditions:
Circadian Rhythm Disorders
This is where the body’s internal clock has gone awry, and people who suffer will feel awake and alert at night and extremely sleepy during the day. This can happen if you travel to a different country in a different time zone, and typically the symptoms will disappear as the body adjusts. Gradually changing the time that you go to bed and wake up, timed melatonin use, and bright light therapy are also possible solutions.
Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing during sleep at night. While this can be alarming, the body usually wakes itself up to ‘remind’ the person to breathe again. However, this can cause a sleepless night and lead a person to feel exhausted in the morning. People can combat sleep apnea by losing any excess weight and avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills. In more extreme cases, some people need a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This is a machine that helps to raise the air pressure inside a person’s throat, thus expanding the airway and allowing more oxygen in. There is also a newer treatment, which is a device that can be implanted under the skin of a person’s neck and chest. At the click of a button, it stimulates the nerves that control the muscles in the airway, keeping them open.
The condition narcolepsy affects people by making them fall asleep when they don’t want to. This can be controlled with medication or by scheduling naps throughout the day so that you are more likely to stay awake at times where it is important to do so.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome is where a person feels a twitching or spasm in their legs, which can cause discomfort and keep them awake at night. A doctor may recommend reducing your caffeine intake, taking a warm bath before bedtime, hot or cold leg compresses, iron supplements, or prescription medication.
Pregnancy can take its toll on the body, and many women find that the quality of their sleep becomes poor. While this is normal, it can be frustrating. Taking daily gentle exercise can help, as can finding a relaxing bedtime routine that works for you. Some doctors also recommend sleeping on your left side to keep the uterus off the liver. Make sure you discuss any medication or herbal remedies you are considering taking with your doctor first.
Some sleep disorders occur simply because of getting older, and it may be that your restless nights are simply down to the natural aging process. By maintaining good sleep hygiene, getting outside during daylight hours, and exercising regularly, you can hope to have a better night’s sleep.
Sleep disorders can be distressing. However, there are plenty of options for treatment. By talking through your symptoms with your doctor, you should hopefully be on your way to a good night’s sleep in no time at all!