Sleep Problems. Do I Have Any?

Sleep is an important part of our life. The natural sleep-wake cycle allows our body to have sufficient rest during the night to feel energetic and healthy throughout the day. However, millions of people worldwide suffer from sleep problems, which interfere with their daily life. According to Sleep Foundation, 10 – 30 % of Americans have chronic insomnia. Unfortunately, this is only one of more than 80 sleep disorders people may struggle with.

The Most Common Sleep Disorders

The inability to have quality sleep may cause a variety of problems, including feeling tired and sleepy during the day. Among the most often reported sleep disorders that can significantly affect your life, there are:

  • insomnia;
  • narcolepsy;
  • restless legs syndrome (RLS);
  • obstructive sleep apnea.

Let’s take a detailed look at each of these sleep issues to know if you have them.

The Basics about Insomnia

This one is probably the most spoken-about sleep disorder. Each of us has at least once experienced trouble falling asleep, so we all know what insomnia can be. However, the inability to fall asleep is not the only manifestation of this disorder. You may also be diagnosed with trouble sleeping if you often wake up at night and cannot go back to sleep fast. Waking up too early and having difficulty staying asleep long enough to feel rested is also a kind of insomnia.

The person’s sleep patterns and risks of developing insomnia strongly depend on various factors, including:

  • their gender (women are 40% more likely than men to develop trouble sleeping);
  • age (people aged 65+ tend to suffer from such problems more often);
  • the presence of any chronic health conditions (like prostatitis, GAD, etc.);
  • their stress levels;
  • the intake of any medicines (sleep problems may be among the side effects);
  • psychological health issues, like depression;
  • environmental factors (noisy neighbors, bright light outside the window, and others.).

Insomnia can be short-term or long-term. The former happens occasionally, while the latter is diagnosed in individuals who struggle to sleep at night at least three out of seven days for a minimum of one month.

Hazards of Narcolepsy

The statistic says that anywhere from 135 to 200 thousand people in the United States have narcolepsy. The bad news, only 25% of cases are diagnosed so people can get the medical treatment they need.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness, and a range of other symptoms. This is believed to be a neurological health condition provoked by the lack of sleep and wakefulness cycle control on the part of the brain.

A person may have sleep attacks on the go, which makes this health condition very dangerous for accidents. Fragmented sleep, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis are common symptoms of the disorder. If undiagnosed and untreated, narcolepsy can significantly interfere with the person’s life, cognitive functions, and work ability.

This disease is more common among people with

  • narcolepsy running in the family;
  • brain injuries;
  • autoimmune disorders.

Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep Problems

The Willis-Ekbom disease, better known as restless legs syndrome, is a health condition affecting 7 to 10 percent of adults in the United States. Its primary symptom is the urge to move your legs. It appears due to a variety of sensations a person feels in their lower limbs. They include itching, throbbing, and pain.

The manifestations of restless legs syndrome are the strongest when you don’t move a lot, like when lying in bed or resting on a couch. Due to the sensations in the legs, one cannot fall asleep, and even if this happens, staying asleep through the night may be a problem.

The causes of this disorder still need to be studied. There are only theories that try to explain where RLS comes from. Some scientists think it has something to do with the violation of circadian rhythms and neurotransmitter abnormalities that don’t let your brain “communicate” with your body the way it should.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Things to Know

This disorder is often associated with snoring, which is one of its common symptoms. Obstructive sleep apnea, however, is not about snoring.It’s when you stop breathing in sleep due to the collapse of the back of your throat. In simple words, the airways get blocked by the person’s own soft tissues. As this happens, people usually wake up to restore their breathing.

Among other symptoms of this disorder, you’ll find:

  • restless sleep;
  • feeling sleepy during the day;
  • feeling tired even after eight hours of sleep;
  • trouble concentrating;
  • gasping for air in sleep.

OSA is more common among men than women, with the incidence rates being 22% and 17%, respectively. Aside from the male gender, the factors affecting your chances of developing this medical condition include:

  • your body mass (obese people are more prone to OSA due to the accumulation of fat around their neck);
  • chronic nasal health issues;
  • high blood pressure;
  • smoking;
  • diabetes.

How Can You Treat Sleep Disorders at Home?

Whether or not you can afford medicinal treatment for your disorder, there are some recommendations you can follow to improve your quality of sleep and feel better without taking medicines.

  • Work out your sleep hygiene. This includes going to bed before 11 pm, minimizing light and noise in your bedroom, and things like this.
  • Keep all electronic devices out of your bedroom.
  • Take a relaxing bath before going to bed.
  • Make sure the room temperature is comfortable for sleeping. If it’s too hot, you risk waking up frequently during the night.
  • Start working out to keep your weight under control and help the muscle tone.
  • Try to sleep at least 7 – 8 hours to recover your energy.

In some cases, these won’t be enough to feel better. People whose insomnia is caused by mental health issues may require counseling to get rid of the cause of the problem. In the case of narcolepsy, only medicinal treatment can help to an extent that will improve your quality of life.