Sleep disorders are a way of life for some people. Sometimes they are a temporary problem and other times they are a longtime struggle.
Some disorders are more common in children, while others happen more frequently to adults.
Regardless of whether your sleep issues are short-term or appear to be here to stay, you need to know how they can impact you. You should also have some troubleshooting tips on hand for when you have a hard time sleeping.
Common Sleep Disorders and Why They Are a Nightmare
Missing out on quality sleep once in a while isn’t fun, but it’s no big deal if it straightens itself out the next night.
But if you have trouble sleeping night after night, you’ll start to look like one of those crazy celebrity mug shots we’ve all seen on the internet and in magazines. And your behavior may be just as strange too.
Here are some common sleep disorders that might be causing your lack of rest.
- Sleepwalking: This condition is mainly limited to children. If your child is prone to sleepwalking, you should safeguard your house to make it safer for your child. Make sure doors and windows are locked at night and consider a first-floor bedroom for your child, so they don’t have to navigate stairs while sleeping.
- Night terrors: Most common between the ages of 3 to 8, night terrors are one of the disorders that are limited to children. They’ll sit up in their bed and begin screaming for up to half an hour before they can settle back in. Being stressed or overtired can lead to these episodes. Night terrors can impact your rest when your child is the one suffering from them, as well as your child’s slumber.
- Sleep apnea: This common disorder affects children as well as adults. You might notice snoring or trouble breathing while sleeping because of airway obstructions. Those who have apnea will feel tired and lethargic through most of their day from frequent nighttime wakings -- even if they don’t know it’s happening.
- Narcolepsy: This sleep/wake disorder doesn’t usually happen in children -- it first appears in adolescence or adulthood. One of the biggest symptoms for this problem is extreme daytime sleepiness. That can be a symptom for other disorders too, which makes it difficult to diagnose at times.
- Insomnia: Most of us have experienced the occasional bout of insomnia. This problem, which causes trouble falling asleep, night wakings, and constant tiredness, can be linked to another health condition or completely unrelated to any other cause. It can last a single night or off and on for months or even years, leading to depression and an altered lifestyle.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: Restless Leg Syndrome can be maddening. You’re trying to sleep at night and you have this urgent desire to move your legs around to relieve the ache you feel in them. This movement disorder can make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult to do.
What To Do About Your Sleep Disorders?
Maybe you’re suffering from one of the problems I just mentioned. Or maybe you’re not sure what’s going on, but you know something is off and you need to know how to sleep better.
There’s a time to sit around moaning about your struggles to your best friend, and there’s a time to look for solutions. If you’re past the point of talking about how tired you are and you’re ready to do something about it, here are some tips to improve your sleep.
- Get help: If you’ve had slumber disruptions that are affecting your daily life and don’t seem to be going away, it might be time to talk to a doctor. It will help rule out if you should be on medication or any underlying conditions that are causing your issues.
- Get physical: We sit so much, all the time. Part of it is our modern-day lifestyle and some of that is by choice. But it can take a toll on our shut-eye. By taking time every day to exercise, especially in the bright light outside which may help avoid daytime sleepiness, we might rest better at night.
- Ditch the caffeine after 3 p.m.: Believe me, I know how hard it is to cut back on caffeine. I sometimes drink so much soda to give me an energy burst that my blood might actually be carbonated by now. But because caffeine can stimulate you for up to eight hours before bedtime, you’d be better off without it in the afternoon and evening.
- Skip the nightcap: You think a cocktail might help you drift off, but it could be hurting more than helping. It can make sleep apnea symptoms worse. Try a warm cup of chamomile tea instead.
- Use some white noise: Do you remember when you were in school and you had an irresistible urge to nod off in class when a monotonous-toned teacher would talk? White noise is a lot like that. It has a dull tone that drowns out anything more exciting that you might hear, like street noise or creaks in your house. The monotony can help you drift off.
- Try a weighted blanket: Weighted blankets help some people get a better night of rest. You won’t know if it will help you until you try it. Opt for a blanket that weighs approximately 10 percent of your body weight so it won’t be too heavy or too light.
- Stay away from screen time: Avoid screen time as much as possible an hour or two before bed. Avoiding blue light can help your circadian rhythm and relax you too.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
If you’ve had one sleep issue, you probably want to avoid any others. They can take the enjoyment out of your life, cause problems at work and at home, and even weaken your relationships with others. Your friends and family will only understand for so long if you’re too tired to do anything with them when you call.
To try to prevent any new sleep issues from occurring, try these steps:
- Maintain a healthy body weight: Obesity increases your odds of developing sleep apnea. A healthy body weight may help you avoid that condition.
- Avoid stress: Stress can contribute greatly to conditions like insomnia. Avoiding stress by keeping your finances in order and your relationships healthy can help you in your quest for a good night’s rest every night.
- Set a schedule: Do you find yourself going to bed at 9 p.m. one night and 2 a.m. the next? You could be setting the stage for an issue. Pick a sleep schedule and stick with it as much as possible. Stop watching TV late at night and make rest a priority.
- Make your bedroom an oasis: It should be dark, a good temperature that you find comfortable, and quiet. Making your bedroom conducive to rest will help you nod off.
Give It a Rest
A sleep disorder can be life-altering. But you don’t have to take it lying down. You can take steps to improve or eliminate your current issue and work to prevent another one from developing.
You’re the master of your destiny. So take charge and show that disorder that you’re taking your life back, one night at a time.