Insufficient sleep can pose a problem to your health and safety. Studies have linked sleep deprivation to relationship problems, poor job performance, memory problems, mood disorders and car accidents. Some even suggest that sleep disorders may contribute to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Are you getting a good night’s rest? Or do you suffer from insomnia? Symptoms of insomnia and sleep disorders include:
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Snoring or episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
- Urge to move your legs at rest or an uncomfortable feeling in the legs at night
Insomnia may be caused by sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome, a condition where people feel an urge to move their legs at rest. This is usually more pronounced at night, and some may experience twitching motions during their sleep which wake them up. People with sleep apnea, another type of sleep disorder, have episodes when they stop breathing many times while they sleep. These pauses last several seconds and trigger a switch from deep sleep to light sleep. These interruptions often lead to daytime sleepiness.
Bad habits may also lead to insomnia. These habits include:
- consuming caffeinated beverages (e.g. coffee) or foods (e.g. chocolate) in the afternoon or evening
- eating heavy foods before bed
- going to bed at a different time each night
- falling asleep with the television on
Mental health problems can also lead to insomnia. These include
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There are ways to combat insomnia on your own (stay tuned for “How’s your sleep? (part two)”), but some situations require medical attention. Call your doctor if you notice that you snore loudly or gasp during sleep, if you think a medical condition or medication is keeping you up at night, if you’re always tired or if you fall asleep during daytime activities.