Understanding Sleep Disorders: A Beginner’s Guide


Why You’re Unable to Sleep Properly?

Have you been suffering from poor sleep for a while? Issues falling asleep, staying asleep and/or not feeling well-rested even after sleeping may be a point of concern as it can result in fatigue, lower one’s energy levels, impact mood and damper work performance.

There are nearly 60 types of sleep disorders, of which insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome (RLS) are well-recognized by most. Both adults and children alike can face sleep disorders. In fact, according to the Sleep Foundation, nearly 30-48% of adults experience insomnia. Obstructive sleep apnea is experienced by 15-30% men and 10-30% women.

Although sleep disorders are common, they should not be ignored. If your current sleep cycle is making it difficult for you to function properly during the day, it is important to consult a medical professional to identify the root cause and seek treatment accordingly.


Common Reasons Contributing to Poor Sleep

There are a variety of factors that disrupt sleep commonly -

1. Stress
2. Traumatic life events
3. Travel schedule
4. Work schedule
5. Poor bedtime habits (poor sleep environment, eating / working in bed, screen time, naps)
6. Poor eating habits
7. Other underlying medical conditions / drugs
8. Caffeine, alcohol and / or nicotine intake
9. Breathing issues
10. Chronic pain

It is also important to note that the risk of insomnia might be higher for people who are -

- Over the age of 60
- Women (hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle and menopause)
- Facing mental / physical health conditions


Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Poor Sleep

While it may be easy to dismiss sleep pattern issues, it isn’t a good idea to do so if the trouble you’ve been facing is prolonged. Sleep disorders can impact mental and physical health. In the long run, it can lower the quality of life by taking a toll on performance at work and school; it can also hinder the ability to drive safely and may lead to substance abuse.


Diagnosing Reasons Behind Poor Sleep

A medical practitioner may ask you to do the following so they can devise a suitable treatment plan for sleep issues -

Maintain a Sleep Journal

You might be asked not only to fill a questionnaire about your sleep pattern, but to also keep a diary for a few weeks in which you track your sleep patterns and daytime sleepiness levels.

Undergo a Physical Exam

Your doctor may conduct a physical exam or administer blood tests to check for other health conditions like thyroid that may result in poor sleep.

Take Part in a Sleep Study

In some instances, a sleep center where tests are conducted is recommended. During the study, they monitor and record brain waves, breathing, eye movements, body movements, heartbeat and more while you sleep to figure out the cause of insomnia if it isn’t otherwise clear.


Treating Sleep Disorders

Improving the quality of sleep may involve a variety of measures taken under the advisement of medical professionals:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps a patient eliminate or manage negative thoughts and/or actions that impact their sleep adversely. Often, worrying about something or mulling over negative thoughts can keep a person awake at night - CBT helps address this head on, including through relaxation techniques, light therapy, sleep restriction, stimulus control and more.


While doctors do not advise taking sleeping pills in the long-run, due to side-effects and the risk of habit formation, there are many situations in which they may still choose to prescribe medications such as Eszopiclone, Ramelteon, Zaleplon and Zolpidem or over-the-counter sleep aids. Some people also try alternative supplements like melatonin.

Lifestyle Changes

Sleep disorders are treatable in most instances, and quite often lifestyle changes can work wonders, such as -

  1. Adhering to a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week

  2. Exercising

  3. Avoiding overly stimulating activities and screen time before sleeping

  4. Avoiding / limiting nap-time

  5. Restricting caffeine / nicotine / alcohol intake

  6. Avoiding heavy meals / beverages before sleeping

  7. Maintaining a dark, silent room for sleeping

  8. Taking a warm bath / shower or receiving a massage before sleeping

If facing a serious case of insomnia, please be aware it could lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, driving accidents, injuries, falls, mood disorders and obesity, so do not ignore the symptoms.

We hope this article has given you clarity regarding trouble sleeping, why this issue shouldn’t be ignored, and various solutions a medical practitioner may recommend to improve your sleep pattern.

Sources :
> www.healthline.com/health/chronic-insomnia#cure
> www.goodrx.com/well-being/sleep/15-things-to-try-if-you-cant-fall-asleep-and-why-you-cant-sleep-in-the-first-place
> https://thesleepdoctor.com/insomnia/why-cant-i-sleep/
> www.verywellmind.com/reasons-for-not-sleeping-well-and-how-to-fix-350760
> www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-insomnia-medical-causes
> https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12119-insomnia
> www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/insomnia
> www.insider.com/guides/health/conditions-symptoms/why-cant-i-sleep
> https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics
Disclaimer: Please note: this blog post is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to replace the guidance of your personal physician. Please consult a medical professional if you have any concerns after reading this or other blog posts on this website.