Struggling to sleep? If you think you may have a sleep disorder, look out for these signs.
There are many reasons why we sometimes struggle to sleep – from stress to your mind not being able to shut off after work, and in some cases a sleep disorder could be what’s keeping you from getting a good night’s rest.
A lack of sleep can lead to various health issues including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression.
7 signs you may have a sleep disorder
If you have been struggling to sleep, ask yourself the below questions to identify if you could have a sleep disorder.
How many hours of sleep per night do you usually get?
Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep at night, but it’s not the same for everyone. Some feel fine with for to nine hours, as long as they wake up refreshed and have no daytime issues.
What matters most is how you feel and function during the day. If you are alert and not tired, your sleep is likely good, even if it’s not exactly seven to eight hours.
Do you usually feel well-rested when you wake up in the morning?
Not feeling refreshed when you wake up can happen because you either did not get enough sleep or the sleep you had was not good quality.
You should, ideally, wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. If not, it might be because you are waking up too early for your body’s natural rhythm or if you are taking sedative medications, they could still be affecting you when you wake up.
Does daytime sleepiness or fatigue interfere with your daytime functioning?
It is not usual to fall asleep during the day if you have had the right amount and quality of sleep at night. If your Epworth sleepiness scale score is higher than 10, it means you are overly drowsy.
Do you snore loudly and appear to stop breathing during your sleep?
If you often nap during the day, it might be due to a sleep issue called obstructive sleep apnoea. This can make your nighttime sleep poor and lead to daytime tiredness. It can also raise the risk of heart problems.
Do you get an urge to move your legs with an uncomfortable feeling in the evening before going to sleep?
This could point to Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), which can be identified with four simple questions. If you answer yes to all four, it suggests you might have RLS, and it is a good idea to talk to a doctor about it.
- Do you have an urge to move your legs often with an uncomfortable sensation?
- Is it worse or only at night?
- Does it only occur at rest?
- Is it partially or wholly relieved on movement (once you stop moving and are at rest again the sensation tends to come back)
Do you have difficulty in getting enough hours of sleep when you go to bed?
Insomnia means you struggle to sleep enough even when you have time for it, and it makes you tired during the day.
There are many reasons for it, and most can be treated. You can use a special program called CBT-I to help even if you do not know why you can’t sleep.
Sleeping pills should only be a short-term solution. Talk to your doctor if you can’t sleep well, so they can help you.
Are you worried about your sleep?
The questions above tell you what signs to watch out for if you think you might have a sleep problem. If you are worried, it is important to tell your doctor and show them the information you have found here.
It is also helpful to keep a sleep diary for about a week. In the diary, write down when you go to bed, if you wake up at night, how long you stay awake, and what time you wake up in the morning.
ALSO SEE: Understanding sleep and how to get more of it
Sleep clinic opens in Johannesburg
Restonic Ezintsha Sleep Clinic, a first of its kind in South Africa recently opened its doors in Johannesburg. The clinic’s aim is to improve well-being through better sleep with Ezintsha, a research centre.
Ezintsha focuses on studying health issues like HIV, diseases, and sleep, aiming to find better healthcare solutions.
Dr Alison Bentley of the Restonic Ezintsha Sleep Clinic, who has been helping people with sleep problems for 30 years says sleep touches every area of medicine and remains under-researched in South Africa.
In a statement, Dr Bentley said The Restonic Ezintsha Sleep Clinic will service patients with sleep problems, as well as improving local sleep research. It will train other doctors on diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, and the interplay of sleep with other health conditions.
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