Overview of Sleep Medicine
One in three Americans have a sleep disorder. These problems can be either trouble falling asleep, staying awake, or staying asleep. Getting a good night’s rest is essential for your health. There are many causes of a sleep disorder, but through a proper diagnosis, our physicians can aid in regulating sleep patterns.
Symptoms of a Sleep Disorder
A sleep disorder is defined as any difference in a normal sleep pattern. Some symptoms may include: headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating, daytime sleepiness, breathing problems, restless sleep, snoring, mood changes, or high blood pressure.
Causes of a Sleep Disorder
There are a variety of causes of a sleep disorder. The inability to breathe well can make sleeping difficult. This can be through allergies, a cold, or any other type of respiratory infection. Stress and/or anxiety have an impact on sleep. It can be difficult for someone struggling with stress and anxiety to fall asleep or stay asleep. This may be characterized by sleepwalking, sleep talking, or nightmares. Pain of any type can also make it very difficult to sleep. Some of the most types of chronic pain are: back pain, headaches, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia.
Types of Sleep Disorders
While a sleep disorder is simply defined as a change in normal sleeping patterns, there can be deeper causes to this condition. Narcolepsy is when there is persistent daytime sleepiness or uncontrollable sleeping attacks. Sleep apnea is any breathing irregularity during sleep. Insomnia is defined as the continuous difficulty of falling asleep. Restless leg syndrome is uncontrollable sensations in limbs, which is more common when sedentary. Parasomnia is sleepwalking.
Diagnosis of a Sleep Disorder
The first step of properly diagnosing a sleep disorder is speaking with your physician about symptoms that you are experiencing. A sleep study will likely be requested to see the cause of the sleep disturbances. A sleep study can be performed at your home or at a sleep lab.
A sleep lab is a comfortable space in which the sleep study will be completed. If you prefer to sleep at home, then a home test will be your preferred option. The day of your test, you will come by our office and pick up your home sleep testing machine. This machine is very easy to use, as there are only 3 cords to put on. Most of the time, a home sleep test is a better representation of your sleep patterns as you are in a familiar environment. A home sleep test is also beneficial for those who are home-bound, elderly, have a chronic illness, or those that are not able to spend the night away from home.
More Information about a Home Sleep Study
A home sleep test does not monitor your actual sleep, but instead your breathing throughout the night. It uses sensors to monitor those breathing patterns. There is a probe on your finger, a tube like mask in your nose, and sensors are placed on your chest. Your physician has to prescribe a home sleep study, so if you suspect that you have a sleeping disorder, then you need to schedule an appointment now. A home sleep test is only a small commitment and is very convenient.
Treatment of a Sleep Disorder
Treatment of a sleep disorder depends on the cause of the sleep disorder. Treatment will vary from each individual. After you have completed your sleep study, you will want to meet with your physician again to review the results. Once you have a better understanding of the cause of your sleep disorder, then you will be able to pick a treatment that will work best for you. If your sleep disorder is caused by difficulty breathing due to an allergy, then your physician may recommend an allergy or cold medication. A dental guard is also helpful in protecting the teeth. Typically, a breathing device is recommended for those struggling with sleep.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is just a set of habits that you should be doing to make sure that you are getting a good night’s sleep. You will want to avoid nicotine and alcohol right before bedtime. You should avoid caffeinated drinks, but mainly four hours before bed. Do not take naps during the day, as this can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Choose a time that you will go to bed and get out of bed every day. This regular sleeping schedule should be followed on the weekends too. Make your sleeping environment comfortable; we recommend a quiet, dark, and cool room. Before bed, avoid stressful activities and try relaxing techniques before getting in bed. Exercising regularly during the day is also recommended.
Recommended Lifestyle Changes
There are many lifestyle changes that will aid in a better nights rest, especially when they are paired together with a proper medical treatment. If you smoke or drink, then you will want to quit this immediately. Consume your water earlier in the day so you are not up frequently to use the restroom. Exercising will also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Be sure to stick with the treatment plan that your physician has recommended. You may not notice results immediately, but if the treatment plan is proper followed, then you will find that you are sleeping better.
Important Facts about Sleep
- Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.
- Divorced, separated, or widowed people are more likely to experience insomnia.
- Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world, and this can be to blame for some sleep disorders.
- If you are incorporating exercise into your daily life in an effort to make sleeping easier, then you will want to do this regularly. Exercise that is done right before bed or randomly will actually make it harder to go to sleep.
- Most people experience being tired at 2PM and 2AM.
- Some people blame seasonal changes and their sleeping patterns.
- 36% of Americans will drive their vehicle while drowsy and some have even fallen asleep.