How do you know when to seek professional help about your sleep problems, or even better, how do you know for sure you have a sleep problem?
The number-one sign will always be how you feel in the daytime and how persistent is that feeling. That feeling generally starts with tiredness and fatigue — the types that don’t go awat as you go about your day. These symptoms can be accompanied by many other symptoms, including lack of focus, diminished performance at work, even depression.
How do you know for sure? That’s where the persistent/consistent part comes in. If these daytime symptoms are pretty much daily, then you should strongly consider that you have a problem that needs help. This is especially so if, once you’ve adopted every sleep-hygiene tip you can find, you still suffer from diminished daytimes.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you have symptoms that indicate potential sleep problems and/or disorders:
- Do you feel sleepy or irritable during the day?
- Do you have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading?
- Do you ever fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
- Do you have difficulty concentrating?
- Do you often get told by others that you look tired?
- Do you react slowly?
- Do you have trouble controlling your emotions?
- Do you feel like you have to take a nap almost daily?
- Do you require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going?
These are all just signs of generalized symptoms; each specific sleep disorder might have its own unique set of symptoms. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for instance, is characterized by frequent instances of breathing cessation while you’re sleeping. Though you may not be aware of these instances of not breathing, a sleep partner should notice, or at least be awakened by your gasping. Take a video of yourself sleeping if you suspect OSA and have no other proof.
At any rate, if you have any of the general symptoms, please visit your primary physician first, who may well recommend you to a sleep professional for a sleep evaluation. Don’t shrug these symptoms off but seek help immediately. Sleep really determines your daytime happiness and success.