Is it getting difficult to get out of bed in the morning? When you wake up, do you feel moody or tense? Do you often feel tired during the day? If you are having trouble sleeping or feel sleepy much of the time, you may have a sleep disorder. There are treatments for most sleep ailments, but the first step is recognizing a problem exists.
What are the symptoms of problem sleepiness?
You have problem sleepiness if:
- You consistently do not get enough sleep, or get poor quality sleep
- Fall asleep while driving
- Struggle to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching TV or reading
- Have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school, or home
- Have performance problems at work or school
- Are often told by others that you are sleepy
- Have difficulty remembering
- Have slowed responses
- Have difficulty controlling your emotions
- Must take naps on most days
A Widespread Problem
Sleep disorders affect millions of adults, making it difficult for them to get a good night’s rest. Ideally, most people need 6-9 hours of sleep each night, but chances are, that doesn’t happen every night. Sleep disorders can be triggered by one of the following reasons:
- Sleep apnea – when a person stops breathing repeatedly when sleeping. This occurs when structures completely block the throat, called apnea. Since the lungs aren’t getting fresh air, the brain tells the body to wake up just enough to tighten the muscles and unblock the air passage. With a loud gasp, breathing begins again. Other symptoms, besides gasping, include snoring, pauses in breathing and jerking movements. Even though people with sleep apnea won’t remember waking up often during the night, they will feel tired and groggy all day.
- Snoring – When throat structures are too large or the muscles relax too much during sleep, the air passage may be partially blocked. Air from the nose and mouth must pass around the blockage, thus creating a vibrating or rattling sound, often loud enough to wake others!
- Insomnia – is trouble falling or staying asleep. If it usually takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep or if you are up in the middle of the night longer than 30 minutes, you may have insomnia. Insomnia is most common in women and people over 60 years old, but can affect anyone at one time or another.
You can increase the chances of getting a better night’s sleep by taking certain precautions before bed.
- Good sleep habits
The best sleep can result from going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Your body will develop a pattern for better sleep. In addition, avoid exercise 4 to 6 hours before going to bed so your body has time to unwind.
- Watch what you eat
You don’t want to overeat before you go to bed, but you don’t want to go to bed hungry either. Try eating a light snack before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine or smoking
Many people believe a “nightcap” will help them sleep, but actually it has the reverse effect of causing you to toss and turn all night. Similarly, any foods with caffeine can keep you from sleeping, and should be avoided at least 6 hours before bedtime.
- Check your environment
Sleep starts with a comfortable room and bed. Make sure your room is quiet, with no distractions, a comfortable temperature, and appropriate light blocking shades or drapes.
- Be honest with yourself
Don’t take your worries to bed with you, instead write down your concerns or create a “to do” list of things you need to accomplish. If your anxiety persists, ask your doctor if he/she recommends visiting a counselor or psychiatrist for further evaluation.
Adopting these simple good habits may help you rest easier, starting tonight!