Recognizing Your Sleep Issues

The main sign that you’re facing sleep issues/problems is your waking life — are you sleepy, find it hard to focus, stressed? There may be causes outside of poor sleep leading to these daytime conditions, but often it is sleep behind it all. Let’s look at some common (and often major) sleep problems.

Perhaps the granddaddy of them all is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is characterized by cessations of breathing, even gasping for air, throughout the night.

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder causes you to sleep so soundly that you can’t even wake up in the morning despite an alarm clock.

Jet lag is a result of traveling through time zones. It can really put you out of whack with your circadian rhythm, but sometimes taking melatonin supplements can help — as can just staying up longer until you finally fall asleep.

Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder finds the sufferer falling asleep early, say 7 p.m., and awaking in the wee hours, say 3 a.m. It is often associated with age or SAD, the seasonal affective disorder occurring in wintertime.

Narcolepsy affects only about 100,000 Americans, but it is a serious condition that can cause people to fall asleep while doing routine things like conversing with others.

Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome is often associated with people suffering from blindness, which sets their clocks at 25 hours and makes it difficult to sleep at night.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) often affects the middle-aged, causing their legs to tingle, burn, move and otherwise disrupt their sleep. People with RLS must avoid caffeine and alcohol to help reduce their symptoms and improve their sleep.

Sleepwalking seems to affect children a lot, and it can cause up to 10-minute episodes of walking while sleeping. It is often linked to fever, illness, stress and/or medications.

Insomnia, of course, is a catch-call for being unable to sleep soundly. Often it results from stress, poor choices in sleep hygiene regimen, and just generally running counter to your biological clock for professional or personal reasons.

Whatever you or your loved one faces sleep-wise, the first recourse is to adopt sound sleep hygiene habits. If those don’t help, then you should seek professional help, starting with your family physician and then escalating to a sleep professional if symptoms persist. Don’t let your nighttimes ruin your daytimes. It’s not meant to be, and cures and treatments are readily available.

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