Millions of Americans suffer one form of sleep disorder or another. Insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome bring sleepless nights and ill health. Disrupted sleep not only makes you sick but can cause moodiness, inability to concentrate, and excessive daytime sleepiness. The good news is that common sleep disorders can be treated to return restorative sleep and daytime energy.
A healthy adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain good physical and mental health
What is a Sleep Disorder?
Sleep problems and sleep disorders are the inability to get quality restorative sleep. They can occur due to illness, medication, jet lag, or anxiety. Sleep disorders can exacerbate illness and cause cognitive decline and inability to concentrate and moodiness with loved ones. A healthy adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain good physical and mental health.
Top 5 Sleep Disorders in Adults
Chronic insomnia makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep all night over a prolonged period of time. Daytime sleepiness makes it impossible to concentrate on tasks and can make you short-tempered with loved ones. Short-term insomnia can be caused by jet lag, experiencing a stressful event, or anxiety over an important work event.
Central sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that causes obstructed breathing that stops and starts during sleep. Sleep apnea can exacerbate current medical issues, interrupt oxygen supplies, or cause new medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or heart attack. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in those who carry excess weight, have a family history of the condition, heavy drinkers, or smokers.
Narcolepsy is a condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness, hallucinations and sleep paralysis. Certain actions such as laughing too hard can cause cataplexy, a partial loss of muscle control. Those with narcolepsy can fall asleep at any time which has a huge impact on quality of life. Driving for long distances can be almost impossible without ingesting strong stimulants.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome RLS is felt more at night when trying to sleep when your body is most still or when you are sitting down. RLS is the crawling sensation in the legs making you feel urges to move and can not relax. Restless leg syndrome disturbs your ability to sleep which can further impact your health. Certain cases can arise from iron deficiency or lack of B vitamins, therefore, improving your diet could help RLS symptoms. Other Restless legs syndrome RLS risk factors include spinal cord conditions, kidney failure, or peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet).
Night terrors are more extreme than a typical nightmare. Night terrors are bad dreams that instill a sense of intense dread and fear. You may wake up with a shout, sit up in bed sweating, kicking, or thrashing around. You may have no memory of the event and be inconsolable. If you are having more frequent bouts of night terrors and sleep paralysis a sleep study may be required to help you regain quality sleep.
Around 70 million people in America suffer from a sleeping disorder
Are Sleep Disorders Common?
Around 70 million people in America suffer from a sleeping disorder. Insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and night terrors disrupt more than your sleep. When staying asleep is impossible and you feel tired in the morning and your waking hours are difficult to get through. While sleep disorders are common, treatment is available.
What Causes Sleep Disorders?
Your sleep-wake cycle is a delicate process that can be interrupted by many things. Side effects from medication, illness, stress, depression, poor diet, and lack of exercise can contribute to a poor night’s sleep. Getting to the root cause of your sleep disorder can be achieved by examining your lifestyle and schedule. A checkup with your doctor may be necessary if you have made lifestyle changes but are still suffering. Sleep disorders are not something you have to live with, many treatment options exist.
How to Treat a Sleep Disorder
Have a Medical Checkup
A medical checkup once per year can keep you healthy, strong, and combat any illness early on. Many people wait to seek medical help when common symptoms of the disorder have become out of hand. Sleep apnea (stop breathing intermittently throughout the night) is a serious medical condition that you want to be diagnosed with as soon as possible. REM sleep behavior disorder, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, and night terrors can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.
Exercise is one of the best tools in the sleep disorder arsenal. Physical activity strengthens your immune system, strengthens muscles, aids illness and injury recovery, and helps you sleep more soundly. Choose an exercise that suits you, strength training in a gym, walking in the park, swimming in your local pool. As long as you get your body moving and sweating a few times per week, you should see your sleep improve within a few weeks.
Many sleep problems stem from stress and anxiety. Finding ways to relax your mind and body is crucial to your self-care routine. Some people manage stress by playing golf, socializing with friends, meditating, traveling, or learning a new language or skill. Managing your work/home schedule is a good start to combating stress along with taking time for yourself to manage your stress levels.
Wind-Down Well at Night
Take your first step to a better night’s sleep by starting a wind-down well routine tonight. This involves ungluing yourself from your cell and electronic devices 60 minutes before bed, preparing for sleep by meditating, reading, or taking a hot bath. Taking the time to unwind before bed signals your mind and body to get ready for sleep. Watching TV, online shopping, or being on your cell before bed keeps your mind active and awake, which is detrimental to your sleep quality.
Spend Time Outdoors
Common sleep disorders could be alleviated by spending some time outdoors in the fresh air. Being outdoors is invigorating and is a wonderful destresser. Spending time in your local park or walking in your neighborhood does not cost a penny and can be enjoyed every day. Those feeling adventurous can hike their local trail or join a hiking group. Being in nature is your prescription to feeling good and better sleep.
Common sleep disorders can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes, diet, stress management, or exercise
Sleep problems can be difficult to live with but are treatable. If you are suffering greatly and find staying asleep at night impossible or have a disrupted sleep pattern, you must ask your doctor for a check-up as a sleep study may be required. Common sleep disorders can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes, diet, stress management, or exercise. Sleeping well allows your body to repair itself and gather energy for the following day. Good overall health and mental wellbeing rest on your sleep quality. Improve it today and feel the benefits tomorrow.
How to Know if You Have a Sleep Disorder
Feeling exhausted before you have gotten out of bed every morning could signal a sleep disorder. If you feel daytime sleepiness every day, unable to focus on tasks, feel short-tempered with loved ones, suffer anxiety or depression, common sleep disorders could be to blame. Ask your doctor for a physical and help to make some lifestyle changes.
What is the Most Common Sleep Disorder in Adults?
Common sleep disorders in adults are central sleep apnea, chronic insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), and restless legs syndrome RLS. It is important to remember that sleep disorders are treatable and a diagnosis simply means you are taking the first step to treatment and a better night of restorative sleep.
How to Treat Sleep Disorders?
Sleep problems are treated with medication, lifestyle changes such as managing stress, getting control of your work/home schedule, diet, and exercise routine, and holistic remedies such as massage, acupuncture, and meditation. Sometimes a person may start taking sleep medication but eventually shift to a diet and exercise routine that is more beneficial and a better long-term strategy.
Why do I Have Insomnia?
Sleep disorders are so prevalent in our society because we lead such fast-paced lifestyles. We have forgotten the importance of spending quality time with loved ones and being in nature which are two simple remedies to insomnia. If suffering chronic insomnia, try to exercise a few times per week as physical movement greatly increases your sleep quality.