A good night’s sleep is something everyone should be able to enjoy. A visit to the doctor may be in order if you’re having difficulties falling or staying asleep.
You can have a lower quality of life if you don’t get enough sleep, regardless of how often it happens. As a result, you may find yourself struggling to focus at work (or school), driving, or being more agitated than you normally would. In the absence of treatment, sleep disorders pose a significant risk to one’s physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, many people put off seeking help for far too long.
It’s good news that many sleep disorders can be remedied or controlled if diagnosed and treated correctly. It’s up to you to seek treatment and talk to your doctor about your situation.
When Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Your Sleep?
The following sleep-related difficulties should be brought up with your doctor to ensure that you have the greatest possible life, both in and out of bed.
1. Your partner or roommate says you snore a lot.
Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition in which your breathing stops and resumes repeatedly during the night.
According to the Mayo Clinic, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this disorder. Dr. Winter explains that obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax, resulting in a vibration when you breathe. The result is that now you’re dozing off.
If your throat muscles relax too much, it can cause your airway to constrict, resulting in a decline in oxygen levels in your body, which can interrupt your sleep. Because of this, the Mayo Clinic says that your brain scares you awake so that you may catch your breath. People with sleep apnea may experience this five to 30 times every hour, according to the organization, making it nearly hard to get a good night’s sleep.
Your risk of significant health disorders is also increased by obstructive sleep apnea. According to the Mayo Clinic, these quick decreases in oxygen levels raise blood pressure and strain on the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks and irregular heartbeats. Insulin resistance (when the body does not respond adequately to insulin, which is essential for managing blood sugar) is also more common in patients with sleep apnea. Type 2 diabetes may be a result of this.
Dr. Winter believes it’s possible to have sleep apnea and not be aware that you’re waking up in the night to re-establish your air supply. So if your boyfriend or roommate always informs you that you’re snoring loudly, you should really pay attention. Sleep apnea isn’t a certainty, but doctors can help you obtain treatment so that you can sleep and breathe better in the future, even if it’s not.
2. You consistently have trouble falling asleep.
Rita Aouad, M.D., a sleep medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF that this can happen for a variety of reasons. The blue light from your phone could be interfering with your circadian cycles if you use it immediately before going to bed. According to Dr. Aouad, other typical causes include insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia is a condition that makes it difficult to get to sleep and to stay asleep once you do. Stress or a traumatic incident can cause bouts of sleeplessness lasting for days or weeks, but some people suffer from chronic insomnia that lasts for months or longer. Medical disorders like anxiety and asthma can cause this type of insomnia, but it can also occur on its own. Sleep disorders can be exacerbated by medications that impact sleep-regulating neurotransmitters, such as antidepressants and cold drugs that contain caffeine.
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, restless legs syndrome is characterized by an inability to sleep due to an overwhelming desire to move your legs. A lot of people with restless legs syndrome get into bed and feel sleepy, but their legs won’t relax sufficiently for them to fall asleep,” Dr. Winter tells the New York Times. Keeping your feet firmly planted in dreamland can be difficult if your legs start twitching and kicking while you sleep.
Instead of attempting to figure out why you can’t fall asleep on your own, consult a doctor. Doctor Aouad believes we can treat the root cause after determining what’s going on.
3. You have trouble staying asleep.
There are several things that can wake you up in the middle of the night. Restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and insomnia are all possible causes of this disease. An acid reflux disorder, which occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, can also induce insomnia. In some cases, people who suffer from bruxism (a disorder that causes them to clench or grind their teeth) are woken up by sudden pain in their jaw.
The long and varied list of possible causes means that your doctor will want to do a comprehensive evaluation and ask questions about your symptoms if you have difficulty sleeping. To find out if there’s an underlying problem, your doctor may ask you to participate in a sleep study, which entails spending time in a sleep center or hospital overnight to allow doctors to track your sleep patterns. If they can figure out what is causing you to wake up so frequently, they can prescribe treatment options.
4. You always need over-the-counter sleep aids to actually get some rest.
Dr. Winter recommends taking an over-the-counter sleep aid if you’re flying for a long time and need a little help getting to sleep. As a result of this, you shouldn’t depend on a sleep aid every night because your body can develop a tolerance to them and require more to achieve the same results. Furthermore, you’re overlooking the underlying issue that is keeping you up in the first place, which is why you can’t sleep.
The next day, you may wake up feeling extremely drowsy as a result of taking these medications. Dr. Adusumilli says it’s better to see a doctor to get to the bottom of the problem rather than just bandaging it up.
5. You feel tired even when you’re convinced you got a good night’s sleep.
After a good night’s sleep, it’s normal to feel a little groggy. Dr. Adusumilli says the condition is known as sleep inertia, and the longer you’re awake, the less of it you’ll experience. However, a variety of medical disorders, such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and hypothyroidism (in which your thyroid fails to release enough hormones, causing you to feel sleepy), can make you feel tired all the time.
Also, narcolepsy may be to blame. According to the Mayo Clinic, persons with narcolepsy have trouble staying awake for lengthy periods of time, even if they had enough sleep the night before. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep condition that causes extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden episodes of sleep.
In the course of his practice, Dr. Winter has seen patients who have passed out at sporting events, concerts, and even during labor and delivery. If you’re constantly fatigued all day, you might have narcolepsy, according to the doctor.
If you’re constantly exhausted, you should see a doctor. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a questionnaire that asks how often you doze off or fall asleep in specific scenarios, may be used to gather information from you. An overall score is calculated for each item, which ranges from 0 to 3. Dr. Winter notes that if your number is high, your doctor may suggest that you do a sleep study. If the information they gather is accurate, they can come up with a valid diagnosis and begin treatment.
6. You keep doing bizarre stuff in your sleep, like snacking or having sex.
See a doctor if you find yourself eating or moving around in your sleep on a frequent basis, if you have late-night discussions with your partner that you cannot recollect, if you have sex while sleeping, or if you wake up to find that you’ve moved things around in your house without remembering. Sabra Abbott, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep medicine expert at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, tells SELF that all of these tendencies could be signs of a sleep condition called parasomnia. You’re basically doing something unusual in your sleep and not even aware of it, therefore this is bad news. According to Dr. Abbott, “many are reluctant to bring it up because they can be ashamed of the things they do. “However, it’s critical that you seek medical advice on this.”
How To Prepare for Your Appointment
Prepare for your doctor’s appointment so that you may get the most out of it. In the weeks preceding up to your appointment, keep a sleep journal. In addition to recording the times you went to sleep and woke up, you should also record the length of your sleep, the number of times you awoke throughout the night, and how long it took you to get back to sleep. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your daily caloric intake and workout schedule.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, keeping a sleep journal might be a valuable resource in helping your doctor figure out what’s wrong. They are more likely to exaggerate their symptoms when they are asked about their sleeplessness. 4. Keeping a sleep journal can help you get more accurate information about your sleep patterns.
Additionally, keep a list of any tactics you’ve tried to sleep better and the results you’ve had handy to share with your doctor. Make a list of all the medications you’re currently taking for any health issues.
What questions do you have for your doctor concerning your sleep? Make a list of them.
What Will Your Doctor Ask You About?
You should expect your doctor to have their own set of questions to help them figure out what’s wrong with your sleep patterns. Some examples of these inquiries are:
- How long have you had sleep problems, and what are they?
- How long have you been experiencing these symptoms? Was there anything else that changed at that point in your life?
- The last time you had a restful night’s sleep, how did it make you feel?
- What are the consequences of your sleep problems during the day?
- Is it difficult to fall asleep once you’ve gotten into bed? What time do you go to bed and what time do you get out of bed?
- Can’t sleep early in the mornings happen to anyone?
- Whether you’re pregnant or nearing menopause, let us know.
- Do you use tobacco products, or do you indulge in caffeinated beverages or alcoholic beverages? On a typical day, how much do you drink or smoke?
- The type and timing of your daily workout routine are important considerations.
- What’s the state of your mind? Stress, anxiety, and depression are all symptoms of stress.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, you may have insomnia, a sleep problem that affects up to one-third of individuals. Restless legs syndrome (RLS), for example, can be an early sign of a more serious sleep problem like narcolepsy or parasomnias like sleepwalking or REM-sleep disorder.
It’s also conceivable that you’re having trouble sleeping because of an underlying medical condition. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a variety of health problems, including insomnia-related illnesses including cancer, heartburn and diabetes as well as mood swings brought on by menstruation or other hormonal changes.
A physical check may also be required to identify if one of these illnesses is interfering with your sleep. They may, for example, check the size of your tonsils or neck, or listen to your heart and lungs.
What Can You Expect After Speaking to Your Doctor About Sleep Problems?
Your doctor will decide what the next measures should be based on your medical history and assessment. When seeking professional care for a sleep disorder, many people anticipate to be prescribed medicine. However, doctors typically offer other therapies first, such as sleep hygiene, therapy, or a referral to a specialist. Your doctor may advise you to keep a sleep diary while you begin treatment so that they can monitor your progress and make adjustments if necessary.
Treatment for insomnia often begins with better sleep habits. Your doctor may advise you to establish a regular sleep pattern, alter your diet or exercise routine, create a relaxing bedtime ritual, or make changes to your bedroom’s decor to improve your ability to fall asleep at night.
It is possible that CBT-I, or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, will be prescribed. CBT-I aims to assist you in identifying sleep-disrupting thoughts and behaviors (such as worrying or stressing out at night or overindulging in caffeine) and to help you replace them with ones that promote restful sleep.
A sleep expert may be recommended by your doctor if they believe you have a sleep condition. Before making a diagnosis or treatment recommendation, a sleep specialist will ask you further questions about your symptoms and training in the field of sleep medicine. Overnight polysomnograms, in which they record your brainwaves, respiration, eye and limb movements while you are asleep, are commonly used to diagnose sleep disorders. Because insomniacs tend to overestimate their waking hours, a polysomnogram can rule out more serious issues such sleep apnea.
When the underlying cause of a sleep disorder is addressed, the symptom disappears, as does the sleep disorder itself. That’s something your doctor might start by addressing initially. You may be prescribed antidepressants, for example, should your doctor judge that anxiety or depression is a contributing factor to your inability to sleep.
With correct diagnosis and treatment, many sleep disorders can be relieved or eliminated. If you’re having trouble sleeping, make an appointment with your doctor. Some lifestyle adjustments and sleep hygiene tips could be recommended to help you get better sleep. Sleep hygiene, treatment, and medication may be used to treat more significant disorders.
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