Identifying sleep impairments is the first step to getting a good nights rest. Often time the key to solid rest is simply changing the external factors around you but sometimes a more aggressive approach is necessary. It is imperative not to shrug off chronic sleep deprivation as an ongoing lack of sleep may cause serious problems such as loss of effectiveness at work, irritability and dementia.
To finally get the sleep your body desperately needs you will need to make a concerted effort to fix the underlying problem that is causing you to have difficulty getting, or staying asleep. Below is a list of common sleep disorders to give you a starting point in identifying your sleep deprivation issues:
Insomnia: A common sleep disorder that’s defined by sleepless nights. You may have difficulty getting to sleep and/or staying asleep and as a result, you often wake up feeling tired. Fatigue is a warning sign, which can lead to irritability, drowsiness, and daytime sleepiness.
Sleep Apnea: There are three types of sleep apnea, the most common is “obstructive sleep apnea,” which occurs when the soft tissue which composes your airway collapses.
As a result, your breathing will grow shallow and in some cases, cease completely – at least for a few seconds. This tells your body to re-trigger the breathing process, so you may snort, cough, or snore.
You’ll resume sleeping, but it’s been interrupted, so the quality isn’t there and you’ll begin seeing signs of sleep deprivation. Not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea.
A person increases their likelihood of suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea by being overweight, smoking or as they get older.
For severe cases of sleep apnea a doctor may prescribe the usage of a Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or in the worst cases, surgery.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): If you suffer from RLS, you’re not able to rest your legs, just as the name implies. For a number of reasons – including a burning, crawling, or tingling sensation – you will constantly feel the need to move your legs to stop annoying sensations. By moving them, the sensation is addressed, but the result is a restless sleep. There is no know cure for RLS but often a massage, warm bath or stretching may ease the sensations. In some circumstances a doctor may prescribe low doses of ropinirole (Requip) and pramipexole (Mirapex).
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD): Similar to RLS, if you have PLMD, then you move often during sleep. However, unlike RLS, the movement is involuntary. The limbs move periodically in twitches or jerks.
PLMD usually affects the legs but the arms are also sometimes affected. These movements – though you may be unaware of them – lead to a restless sleep. Upon waking up, the deprivation is apparent through the moodiness, fatigue, or drowsiness that you feel.
As with other sleep disorders there is no know cure for PLMD but doctors will often time prescribe an anticonvulsant medicine similar to that prescribed to a Parkinson’s Disease patient.
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS): If you’re suffering from DSPS, it seems as if your circadian rhythm (an internal 24-hour cycle) is off by half a day, and you’re unable to sleep during nighttime hours. As a result, you need to sleep during the day, which can seriously interfere with your lifestyle. Doctors have tested many treatments but all have had a high failure or relapse rate. Suggestions for individuals with this condition are to try and secure a job with a late shift or work from home job such as freelance work or call center work.
Narcolepsy: A dangerous disorder defined by excessive sleepiness during the daytime, as well as periods when the body’s muscles are weakened into a state of cataplexy. You’re at risk of falling asleep while performing everyday tasks like driving a car or working in an office.
In addition to these sleep impairments; there are also others – such as snoring, seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.), night terrors, and sleepwalking. All of them can lead to sleep deprivation and each is sure to have a physical, mental, or emotional impact on your life.
It’s important that if a sleep disorder is present, that you identify and address it quickly. You may have to try different methods to find a solution that works best for you.