Being Tired in the Daytime, Part II

In our last posting, we discussed how being tired in the daytime should be viewed as “abnormal,” to use a sometimes scary-sounding word. The point, however, is that tiredness in the daytime is a result of something obstructing your sleep, and that something needs to be tended to.

We mentioned previously some sleep-deprivation causes in addition to life=style choices (which of course can be changed by the individual at any time). Let’s look at the symptoms and treatments for each.

Insomnia: Insomnia generally involves difficulty in falling asleep and then often in staying asleep, including waking up frequently at night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep. Your sleep also seems light and fragmented. If you find yourself using sleeping aids to get to sleep, insomnia may be what’s driving you toward their use. Often insomnia can be treated with the introduction of good, sound sleep hygiene principles.

Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea, or more technically, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition with various causes that can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke. How do you know if — or suspect that — you’re suffering from sleep apnea? The most obvious clue to suffering from sleep apnea is loud snoring accompanied by bouts of cessation of breathing throughout the night. Generally, sleep apnea will leave one feeling extremely tired, even exhausted, in the daytime, and can lead to falling asleep while driving, so it is a serious problem requiring serious medical intervention in most cases, certainly in the extreme cases. As there are varying causes, there are also varying treatments, but probably the most common is a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) device worn as a mask. Bottom line: If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you need professional help ASAP.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Here the legs are the key. Especially when you get tired, deep and uncomfortable sensations are felt in your legs, and the only “cure” is to keep moving your legs, which helps dissipate the pain. Unfortunately, all this pain and effort only ruin your night’s rest. RLS definitely demands the help of medical professionals.

Narcolepsy: This problem begins with a dysfunction of the brain that can cause “sleep attacks” in the daytime; that is, you unexpectedly fall asleep and can’t control it. Other symptoms include seeing and hearing things when you’re drowsy or falling asleep; suddenly feeling weak or losing control of your muscles when experiencing deep emotions, including laughing and crying; dreaming immediately and intensely after just falling asleep;  and feeling paralyzed and unable to move when falling asleep or waking up. Narcolepsy certainly demands professional help.

The best advice if you’re consistently tired in the daytime and have sleep issues that you can’t control is to seek outside, professional help. Don’t be your own doctor and counselor. Not only is daytime fatigue a challenge to your success and fulfillment in life, but it also can lead to serious health problems. So don’t shrug off sleep or daytime tiredness issues as “normal.” They often aren’t.

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