Estimates range, but studies show that at least 60 million Americans have problems sleeping at night for various reasons, resulting in daytime fatigue and difficulty functioning with the demands of daily life.
What are the causes of poor sleep and resulting sleep deprivation and fatigue?
Circadian rhythm disorders: This refers to our internal body clocks getting basically out of whack for different reasons, including not enough sunlight in the day and not enough darkness at night. This internal clock is a small part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. It sits just above the nerves leaving the back of our eyes. Some such disorders include delayed sleep phase (falling asleep late and waking up late) and advanced sleep phase (falling asleep early and waking up early).
Insomnia: An inability to fall asleep, commonly referred to as insomnia, has many causes, including stress, depression, poor sleep habits and the above, circadian rhythm disorders, as well as medications that may cause insomnia.
Sleep apnea: OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a fairly serious condition that affects breathing at night, causing interruptions in breathing patterns and often leaving sufferers gasping for breath. There are various causes, so a professional diagnosis and treatment plan is the best course.
Narcolepsy: Whether genetic or otherwise obtained, narcolepsy causes people to suddenly fall asleep, even in the daytime. Again, this is a serious condition that needs evaluation and treatment.
Restless leg syndrome: This is a condition of discomfort in the legs that causes the sufferer to continue move about while trying to sleep to relieve the discomfort. What results, obviously, is impaired sleep.
Snoring: Often caused by obesity, snoring can interrupt one’s sleep and make daytime functioning more difficult.
Whatever is causing you to be robbed of a good night’s rest, you need to seek professional help. Don’t just assign your problems as “normal” or as something you can deal with yourself. Sleep problems generally lead to overall health problems, so they should not be taken lightly.