Have you ever felt exhausted after waking up from sleep or felt sleepy during the day? Then it may be because of a sleep disorder. Let us discuss in detail the symptoms of a sleep disorder and the treatments involved to cure it.

What is a sleep disorder or sleep problem?

Sleep disorder is a state that frequently affects our ability to get sufficient quality sleep. Many of us occasionally experience difficulties sleeping, Usually due to work-related stress, illness, or other temporary obstructions to our normal routine. But, if we continually face problems in getting a good sleep at night, or feel sleepy and exhausted during the day, then we may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

Sleep disorders cause more than just daytime sleepiness. They can take a serious toll on mental and physical health, including mood, energy, and ability to handle stress. Taking no notice of sleep problems and disorders can lead us to many other health troubles like memory problems, weight gain, impaired job performance, car accidents, and strained relationships. Quality sleep is a basic essential need of our body, not a luxury. To perform our work to optimum levels sleep is necessary.

Habitually having difficulty in sleeping can be a frustrating and devitalizing experience. Disturbed and insufficient sleep at night, leaves us feeling tired and weak in the morning, and whatever energy is left within quickly drains throughout the day. But then, no matter how exhausted we feel at night, we still have trouble sleeping. And hence the cycle begins again. But remember we don’t have to live with a sleeping problem always. There are many diagnoses available that can help to identify the underlying causes of sleep disorder and improve the quality of our sleep, and in turn improve our health, and quality of life.

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Signs and symptoms of a sleep disorder

Occasional sleeping problems are experienced by most of us, so to check if our sleeping problems are just a minor, passing annoyance, or a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or underlying medical condition, we need to ask ourselves some questions.

Let us try to find some of the answers based on which it can be evaluated whether we have sleep disorders:

Do you feel irritable or sleepy during most of the daytime?

Find it difficult to stay awake when sitting still, or while reading or watching television?

Fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?

Find difficulty in concentrating?

Many comments Often that you look tired?

your reaction time is slow?

Face trouble in controlling your emotions?

Do you feel the need to take a nap almost every day?

Do Caffeinated beverages become a necessity to keep yourself going?

If any of the above symptoms are being experienced by you regularly, then it is most probable that you may be dealing with a sleep disorder. The more your answer inclines towards “yes”, the more likely it is likely that you have a sleep disorder.

Types of common sleep disorders

  1. Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which the person has trouble falling or staying asleep. It can be caused by a health condition, jet lag, stress, mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, medications, or even the amount of coffee that is consumed.

This condition can be short term i.e acute or it can last a long time i.e chronic. It may also come and go.

Improving our sleep hygiene, revising our daytime habits, and learning to relax will help cure most cases of insomnia without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or consuming sleeping pills.

  1. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is considered to be a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, awakening you frequently. If you mostly snore loudly and feel tired all day even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a common but treatable sleep disorder. If someone is suffering from sleep apnea then he/she may not remember these awakenings, but will likely feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in your productivity.

  1. Restless legs syndrome (RLS)

This syndrome is characterized by a nearly irresistible urge to move legs or arms, typically in the evenings or at night. It typically occurs while you are lying down or in a sitting position. This condition is supposed to get worsen with age and can disrupt sleep.

The very urge to move or shake the legs or arms occurs when you’re lying down or resting and is usually due to uncomfortable, aching, tingly, or some creeping sensations. There are many available ways to help manage and relieve symptoms, including self-help remedies that can be tried at home.

  1. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes profuse daytime drowsiness. The cause may involve genetic factors and abnormal signaling in the brain.

It is a sleep disorder that involves excessive, out-of-control daytime sleepiness. It has been found that it is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that controls waking and sleeping. If someone is suffering from narcolepsy, then he/she may have “sleep attacks” in the middle of working, talking, or even driving. Although it has been found that to date no specific cure yet exists, a combination of certain treatments can help control symptoms and can enable you to enjoy many normal activities.

  1. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders

Circadian rhythms, which is our internal biological clock that regulates our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. The primary cue that influences circadian rhythms is light. Our brain triggers the release of melatonin, during nighttime when there is less light. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us sleepy. The brain tells the body that it’s time to wake up when the sun rises.

When circadian rhythms are disrupted we may feel disoriented, groggy, and sleepy at very inconvenient times. Circadian rhythms have been associated with a variety of sleep disorders and depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.

  1. Shift work sleep disorder

Shift work sleep disorder occurs when our work schedule and our biological clock are out of sync. Many people have to work night shifts, early morning shifts, or rotating shifts in our 24 hours timeline. These schedules force us to work when our body is telling us to go to sleep, and sleep when our body is signaling us to wake up.

Some people get adjusted to shifts better than others, most shift workers get less quality sleep than their daytime counterparts. As a result of sleep deprivation, one may struggle with sleepiness and mental lethargy on the job. This cuts into your productivity and puts us at risk of injury.

To reduce the impact of shift work on your sleep one can follow the following things:

  • Taking frequent regular breaks and minimizing the frequency of shift changes.
  • Increase light exposure at work (use bright lights) to regulate the sleep-wake cycle naturally and limiting light exposure when it’s time to sleep. Avoiding TV and computer screens, and using heavy curtains or blackout shades to block out daylight in your bedroom.
  • Taking melatonin when it’s time for sleep.
  1. Delayed sleep phase disorder

Delayed sleep phase disorder is a condition where the biological clock is significantly delayed. Resulting of which, one goes to sleep and wakes up much later than other people. This can just be a preference for some, staying up late, but it becomes a disorder that makes it difficult to keep up with general working hours like attending morning classes and getting their kids to school on time.

  • People with delayed sleep phase disorder are not able to get to sleep earlier does not matter how hard they try.
  • When allowed to keep their hours, they fall into a regular sleep schedule.
  • Delayed sleep phase disorder is most common among teenagers, and many teens will eventually grow out of it.
  • Treatments such as light therapy and chronotherapy can help those who struggle with a biological clock out of sync.

Self-help for sleep disorders

It becomes necessary to visit a doctor for treating some sleep disorders, whereas for some sleep disorders one can improve on their own. Few ways are by improving daytime habits. Despite having sleeping problems, one should try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, getting regular exercise, limiting the intake of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, and managing stress will help to get into better sleep over the long term.

Developing a relaxing bedtime routine to prepare the mind and body for a good sleep. The bedroom should be dark, quiet, and cool, try to avoid heavy meals and too many fluids late at night, taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to soothing music to unwind, and try to turn off screen time at least one hour before bedtime.

Getting back to sleep when waking up at night because of some disturbances. Having a sleep disorder or not, it’s very normal to wake briefly during the night. If facing trouble getting back to sleep, try focusing on breathing, meditating, or practicing another relaxation technique. Making a note of anything that’s worrying and stop worrying about resolving the issue, postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve the issue.

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When to call a doctor

Even after trying a variety of self-help remedies if you are not getting any success in handling sleep disorders, then there is a need to schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist. Try to provide all the supporting information as possible, including information from your sleep diary to your doctor.

A specialist doctor will observe sleep patterns, heart rate, brain waves, rapid eye movements, and more using monitoring devices attached to your body.

The sleep specialist will then design a treatment program if necessary to cure the sleep disorders.

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