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7 Simple Signs You May Have a Sleep Disorder
Do you wake up a lot during the night, snore, sleepwalk or sleep talk? Do you feel really tired in the morning even though you went to bed early? Or maybe you fall asleep easily while watching TV, reading or even having a conversation! If you’re like a lot of people you may be suffering from a sleep disorder and not even know it.
According to the report, 'Re-awakening Australia – The Economic Cost of Sleep Disorders in Australia' more than 1.5 million Australian adults, 9% of the adult population, now suffer from sleep disorders. What you might not know is that sleep disorders can have a detrimental impact on your health, your relationships and your work.
You may not even think to seek medical advice because you don’t realise you have a sleep disorder, you’re too busy or you don’t place a priority on yourself. And the results can be dire to your health. You may be at risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, clinical hypertension, impotence, depression, and numerous other conditions.
Sleep disorders can be difficult to diagnose. However, there are some symptoms that you might recognise in yourself or your partner. Anyone suffering from the following signs of sleep disorder should consult their doctor.
Snoring is the sound of loud breathing during sleep. If your partner snores, you're going to know about it. Or if you snore loudly enough, you’re probably going to wake yourself up. About one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnoea and the easiest one to detect.
While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow.
In more severe cases of obstructive sleep apnoea, the sufferer literally stops breathing while they sleep – often hundreds of times each night. As you’d expect, the person’s sleep quality is severely reduced, blood oxygen levels fall, and the heart works harder to compensate.
If you or your partner snore you should consider having a sleep study. It’s one of those things that’s easy to ignore or you might think you don’t have time to spend the night in a clinic. But the great news is that thanks to advancing technology, you can now have a sleep study easily in the comfort of your own home.
Most of us do get up regularly during the night, maybe to go to the toilet, or stumbling to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. But finding yourself wide awake during the night isn’t something that should be ignored.
If you find yourself wide awake at least 3 times during the night you may be able to link your restlessness back to a stressful day at work, family problems or any number of stressful situations.
However, if you can’t link your restlessness back to stress or anxiety, it may be a sign of any number of sleep disorders including overproduction of melatonin, clinical insomnia, and sleep apnoea.
Can’t Fall Asleep
We’ve all been there, laying in bed thinking about things, staring at the ceiling as the minutes or even hours tick by. This is the image that most people associate with insomnia, and in some cases, difficulty falling asleep is caused by clinical insomnia.
The difficulty of getting to sleep in the first place, however, can also be caused by other sleep disorders. It may be a melatonin deficiency. Usually, a burst of melatonin shuts down the brain and body for sleep. And if there isn’t enough melatonin in your system, you won’t be able to get to sleep.
If you find yourself laying in bed, worrying about not being able to get to sleep, don't try to force it. Tossing and turning only amps up your anxiety.
Get up, leave the bedroom, and do something relaxing, read a book, drink a cup of herbal tea, or take a bath. Then return to bed when you're feeling sleepy. If the problem is ongoing, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Tossing and turning in bed can be a sign of a sleep disorder. But when that tossing and turning becomes unbearable there could be something else at play.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) are sleep disorders that affect your body. RLS is a condition characterised by an irresistible urge to move your legs. It usually happens at night and can last years or your whole lifetime. The strange sensation you may feel, usually in your calves, has been described as a type of cramp, soreness or a creeping, crawling feeling.
Try alternating hot and cold compresses on your legs to reduce any pain. You can also take a hot bath, or massage your muscles to get them to relax. If you think you have RLS you need to see your doctor for a medical diagnosis.
PLMD is a sleep disorder where you move your limbs involuntarily during sleep, most typically in the lower limbs. And we don’t mean that spasm you get in your legs as you fall asleep. PLMD can occur every 20-40 seconds.
You may sleep through these involuntary movements but can you imagine how frustrating it is for your partner! Again, see your doctor for treatment.
We’ve all had those mornings of waking up and still feeling tired. But if you wake up without feeling refreshed consistently, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder that is pulling you out of deep or REM sleep.
This means you’re not getting the rejuvenating periods of sleep that everyone else experiences. A number of sleep disorders can cause this including sleep apnea, PLMD and various forms of clinical insomnia.
If you think you have sleep apnoea, you can easily have an in-home sleep study to track what’s going on. If you’re unsure what’s causing your consistent tiredness, it’s best to seek medical advice.
Sleep-Talking or Sleepwalking
Sleep-talking and sleepwalking are generally something children suffer from and eventually grow out of.
Few adults sleepwalk or sleep-talk, but those that do need to consult a sleep specialist, especially if you are doing more than just walking a few steps around the room.
While you’re sleep-talking and sleepwalking, you’re actually acting out your dreams and the results can be dangerous not only to yourself but to those around you. Sleepwalking or sleep-talking as an adult is a symptom of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD).
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you find yourself sleep-talking and sleepwalking as an adult.
If you’ve been working hard, partying hard or your kids aren’t sleeping at night, it’s normal to feel sleepy during the day.
But, if you’re going to bed early, you feel like you’ve had more than enough sleep and you’re still sleepy during the day, you may haveExcessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS).
EDS is characterised by ongoing sleepiness and a lack of energy. EDS can be considered as a broad condition that includes several sleep disorders like narcolepsy, sleep apnoea or a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.
If you find that you’re fighting off increasingly strong urges to sleep during inappropriate times while driving, while at work, during a meal, or in conversation, you should consider having a sleep study to identify the underlying problem.
One of the problems with society today is that sleep is often seen as a luxury not a biological imperative. How often have you heard people bragging about how little sleep they have had because they are so busy, or people who sleep a lot are often regarded as lazy. But the real truth is that biologically you need to be sleeping for at least 8 hours each day.
If you or your partner recognise any of these symptoms it’s important to seek medical advice or have an in-home sleep study. To get started on improving your sleep health take our free Sleep Self Assessment Questionnaire today, it’s cost and obligation free.
If you (or someone you know) suffers from snoring or sleep apnea, call us today on 1300 246 637 (or send a confidential email using the form below) for an obligation-free chat with one of our friendly Sleep Therapists. Snoring and sleep apnea should be treated; not tolerated. We're here to help.
- Re-awakening Australia – The Economic Cost of Sleep Disorders in Australia, Sleep Health Foundation.
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