Toss And Turn While You Sleep? Do you go to bed feeling anxiety over whether you’ll be able to sleep? Is restful sleep merely an illusion as you wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as you went to bed? You’re not alone. According to the American Sleep Association, fifty to seventy million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder according to the American Sleep Association. There are instances when a lack of sleep can be traced to particular health disorders. For example, while sleep disorders do not cause depression, a study found that there are strong links between sleep and depression.
Sleep is vital for our body. While we sleep, the body ideally enters a phase that allows it to recover and recuperate. The body shuts down and enters an unconscious state where the mind and body can relax and reset to be ready for the following day. However, sleeping problems are often symptoms of a wide variety of illnesses.
- Noisy and Uncomfortable Surroundings
Have you ever laid down to sleep and found yourself listening to cars honking, dogs barking, or your neighbor having a party? Restlessness can occur because your surroundings are very noisy. You can try earplugs or a white noise machine. Make sure you practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night. Keep the temperature cooler. Invest in thick blackout curtains. Consider re-arranging the room if feasible.
- Chronic Medical Problems
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, often go hand in hand with medical issues. Conditions such as sleep apnea may not only cause insomnia but can elevate the blood pressure as well. Restless leg syndrome can also disrupt restorative sleep. Chronic health problems can lead to more than just restlessness in the evenings. Discomfort, as well as pain, can hinder you from falling and staying sound asleep. It is highly recommended that you consult a doctor if your insomnia or restlessness goes on for weeks you should see your doctor. Even if the condition causing the restlessness can be cured, it may be able to be controlled so that you can gain restful sleep.
- Excessive Caffeine
Too much caffeine intake can hurt your ability to sleep. Adenosine is a chemical produced in our brain. As adenosine binds to the nerve cell receptors, it causes drowsiness. However, caffeine looks like adenosine and, therefore, binds with the nerve cell receptor. However, instead of causing drowsiness, it speeds up the nerve cell. This can cause your heart to beat faster, muscles tighten up, and increase your blood pressure. Consuming caffeine in large amounts in the afternoon or evening can result in restlessness at night. The long term effects of excessive caffeine intake can take several months to wane, and certainly will leave anyone wide awake and unable to sleep when night falls.
Some people find themselves overthinking or experiencing racing thoughts as soon as the lights go out. It’s important to transition from your “work” part of the mind to your “relaxing” part of the mind. You can try turning off your electronics an hour before bed. Start dimming the lights about 45 minutes before you go to sleep.
Medical Conditions And Sleeplessness
Certain medical conditions can affect your ability to sleep. Read below to learn more about how you can improve your quality of sleep despite various medical conditions.
For some, arthritis can result in discomfort and pain especially when trying to fall asleep. You can try wrapping yourself very tightly in a warm blanket. If you have arthritis, it is essential that you sleep in warm surroundings. Placing a warm wool blanket under your mattress spread can bring some warmth and help you fall asleep fast. Make sure you have an appropriate mattress. Memory foam mattresses or hybrid mattresses that contain memory foam contours around the body cushioning the joints.
- Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome (Willis-Ekbom Disease) affects about 10% of the US adult population. The syndrome presents with an irresistible urge to move the legs at rest. Very often, the sufferer also feels unpleasant sensations. It most often occurs at night when the legs are inactive and the person can relieve the symptoms by applying pressure or through movement. You can also massage your legs before bedtime and alternate a cold and warm pack to ease your leg pain. If you suffer from these symptoms, it a visit to the MD may be in order. They will ask you about your family history, perform a physical exam, and check your blood for deficiencies. Your MD may prescribe medicine to ease the symptoms.
If you have asthma, your chances of experiencing an attack are higher. Nocturnal asthma can make sleeping very difficult as the sufferer may experience shortness of breath, a cough, chest tightness, and wheezing. The causes behind nocturnal asthma are not known, but researchers think it may be due to being in a reclining position, hormonal secretions and increased exposure to allergens. Asthmatics may sleep with pillows propping up their head or use an adjustable bed frame to maintain head elevation throughout the night. Nocturnal asthma is a potentially dangerous condition and should be treated as soon as possible.
Fibromyalgia and sleep difficulties go hand-in-hand. The medical syndrome presents as widespread muscle stiffness and pain in the muscles and joints throughout the day as well as chronic daytime tiredness. Fibromyalgia affects about 10 million people in the U.S. Currently, there is no cure for this condition.
Treatment may include prescribing pain killers and muscle relaxants in addition to regular aerobic exercise, physical therapy, moist heat, and stress reduction. Trying to get a good night’s sleep is essential. Practicing good sleep hygiene and the use of a good mattress that will contour to your aching body could vastly improve comfort at night.
INSOMNIA IS ON THE RISE
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke about 40 million people in the U.S. experience chronic long-term sleep disorders and an additional 20 million people experience occasional sleep problems. Restlessness may have a hereditary component, and in rare cases, insomnia may be fatal (fatal familial insomnia.) Others experience insomnia if they keep a different sleep schedule on the weekends versus the weekdays. It’s even thought that animals may suffer from restlessness and loss of sleep. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis were able to breed insomniac flies. The bugs lost their balance more often than their counterparts, were slower learners, and gained more fat. These are symptoms that also occur in sleep-deprived humans.
Regardless, losing hours of sleep can make you more than just fatigued. A loss of restorative sleep can lead to both mental health issues and medical problems. If you find yourself losing out on sleep regularly, it’s time to reaccess your sleeping habits. Turn off the electronics and cut the caffeine by mid-afternoon. If that does not work, try sleep medicine such as melatonin or herbs such as chamomile or lavender. If you still find yourself seeking sleep, you may need further treatment such as behavioral therapy. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of snoring. Snoring may be indicative of serious medical issues such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea not only results in sudden decreases in blood oxygen levels but increases blood pressure as well.