The global pandemic caused everyone’s daily schedule and lives to go haywire, and this includes our sleep schedules too. However, if your sleep problems and difficulty in sleeping go way back before the pandemic even started, you are likely suffering from a sleep disorder.
More than one-third of adults report not getting enough sleep, that is, less than 7 hours in twenty hours. For your body and brain to retain their basic functioning, you need to sleep for 8-9 hours in the 24 hours. High school students also complain of getting less than 8 hours on weekdays.
Thus, most of us occasionally experience sleep problems, but if it persists, it might be serious. Sleep problems can also be an indicator of an underlying medical condition or mental health problems.
The solution to such sleep problems includes making lifestyle changes.
What are sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders, commonly known as sleep problems, are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a nightly regular basis.
Depending on the type of sleep disorder and the causes of sleep problems, people may have difficulty in sleeping and feel tired throughout the day. Lack of sleep can have negative effects on mood, stress levels, energy, concentration, and performance. They can also cause a strain in your relationship, affect your work functioning, and impair your ability to perform activities.
What are the types of sleep problems?
The most common types of sleep problems are:
Insomnia refers to an inability to fall asleep, or even worse, remain asleep. Insomnia can be related to underlying health conditions. Causes of sleep problems due to insomnia include stress or anxiety, jet lag, hormones, or digestive activity.
Generally, insomnia is of three types: chronic, intermittent, and transient. Insomnia is common among older adults. Insomnia if not treated can cause problems for your overall health and can potentially cause weight gain and depression.
Narcolepsy refers to “sleep attacks” that occur when you’re awake. This means that you suddenly feel exhausted and have to fight to keep your eyes open. People suffering from Narcolepsy can fall asleep anytime without warning.
Narcolepsy can also cause sleep paralysis and can be associated with underlying neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition, it is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. It can cause the body to take in less oxygen and can wake you up in the middle of the night. There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: In this condition, the flow of air stops because airway space is too narrow or obstructed.
- Central sleep apnea: This happens when there is a disconnection between the brain and the muscles that cause breathing during sleep.
Parasomnias is one of the types of sleep problems that cause abnormal behaviours and movements during sleeping. They include sleepwalking, groaning, sleeptalking, bedwetting, nightmares, and jaw clenching.
5.Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Leg Syndrome occurs when there is an overwhelming need to move your legs. This instinct is usually accompanied by a tingling sensation in the legs.
RLS is often associated with underlying medical conditions like ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.
What are the symptoms of sleep problems?
The symptoms of sleep problems will depend on the type and the severity of the sleep disorder. However, common symptoms include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Irritability or Anxiety
- Unusual breathing patterns
- Weight gain
- Impaired concentration
- Difficulty in sleeping and staying asleep
What are the reasons for sleep problems?
There are many reasons for sleep problems. However, the most common ones include:
1.Stress or Anxiety
It is no brainer that stress and anxiety have negative effects on our health, and they can also impact our sleeping patterns. If you have a reason to be anxious about or are distressed about the next day, you will likely experience sleep problems. Nightmares, sleepwalking and sleeptalking may also disrupt your sleep.
Any sort of allergy, cold, sore throat or respiratory problem can make it difficult for you to sleep at night. Anything that makes it challenging for you to breathe at night can cause sleep problems.
3.Nocturia or frequent urination
Hormonal imbalances can cause nocturia or frequent urination during nighttime. This is more serious than you think. It can disrupt your sleep pattern and cause sleep problems. If your urination is accompanied by bleeding or pain, you should call your doctor immediately.
Constant or chronic pain can cause sleep problems including difficulty in sleeping or difficulty in staying asleep. The most common causes of chronic pain include arthritis, lower back pain, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
How to fix sleep problems?
If your sleep problems aren’t associated with any underlying physical health or mental illness condition then it can be fixed by making a few adjustments in your lifestyle.
However, if your sleep problems are serious, it is important to get professionally diagnosed by an expert. They will be able to guide on what to do to sleep better.
Here are some tips to battle sleep problems and to sleep better:
1.Wake up at the same time every day
Creating a proper sleep schedule is the number one step to fix sleep problems. Even though it can be tempting to pull all-nighters or complete a tv show in one night, you must go to sleep early and wake up early. You should get up at the same time every day to train your mind.
Regular exercise promotes better sleep. If you exercise every day, it tires your body out and you sleep better at night. However, you shouldn’t exercise right before your bedtime as it can produce stimulants. You should exercise at least three hours before.
When your mom told you to not use your phone before going to bed, she was right. Staying up late and looking at screens can cause an inability to sleep. The blue light emitted by screens keeps you awake. Therefore, eliminate these distractions before you sleep. You can try reading a book if you feel bored.
5.Make your sleeping environment comfortable
Temperature, noise, and lighting should be controlled in your bedroom. Make yourself the most comfortable before you sleep. Sleep with a comforter, pick the softest pillow, layout fresh sheets, etc. Make sure that your body likes your bed.
As we discussed, stress and anxiety can impair your ability to fall asleep, thus causing sleep problems. Thus, do your best to reduce your stress and keep worrying for the morning. If you have trouble dealing with your stress and feel overwhelmed, you should see a therapist. You can try additional relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, etc.
Those were all our hacks for getting a good night’s sleep!