Is counting sheep just not cutting it anymore? According to the CDC, one-fourth of the United States population reports occasionally not getting the recommended number of hours of sleep. Moreover, 10 percent suffer from chronic insomnia. Are you having trouble catching “z’s”? A sleep study may be in your best interest. Understanding the warning signs of abnormal sleep can help you decide whether a sleep study can help you feel more rested and in control of your life.
Why is sleep important?
Sleeping is the most natural and effective way to recharge your batteries. How much sleep you need depends on your age. The CDC reports that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends these guidelines:
- Newborns: 16-18 hours a day
- Preschool-aged children: 11-12 hours a day
- School-aged children: At least 10 hours a day
- Teens: 9-10 hours a day
- Adults: 7-8 hours a day
It is important to remember that these guidelines are approximate. People require different amounts of sleep depending on their lifestyles.
Tips for better sleep
To feel fully rejuvenated, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following:
- Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
- Ensure your bedroom is relaxing. More specifically, make sure it is quiet, dark and at a temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold.
- Sleep in a comfortable bed and use it for sleeping purposes only.
- Avoid eating large amounts before bedtime.
What if you still can’t sleep?
If following the previous suggestions doesn’t help you slumber, you may benefit from a sleep study. A sleep study is a combination of tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body reacts to sleep problems. These tests often reveal underlying sleep disorders that can lead to other medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. A sleep study may help you if:
1. You can’t fall asleep or remain asleep throughout the night
Tossing and turning on a regular basis is a red flag. The inability to fall asleep or remain asleep is called insomnia. Not sleeping enough at night can result in excessive sleepiness during the day, which interferes with productiveness and general happiness. Treatment for insomnia includes sedative medications and behavioral techniques to foster adequate sleep.
2. You can’t seem to stay awake during the day
If you can’t stay awake for your daily activities, narcolepsy might be the culprit for your heavy eyelids. Narcolepsy is often described as a “sleep attack.” People with this condition suffer from sudden muscle weakness and unexpectedly fall asleep at inopportune times, such as during physical activity. Treatment for the symptoms of narcolepsy often includes a combination of stimulant medications and behavioral interventions.
3. You snore
Snoring not only keeps others awake, but it prevents you from truly sleeping. Constant gasping or snoring is diagnosed as sleep apnea. Each snore or gasp disrupts your sleep, often causing excessive daytime sleepiness. Treatment for sleep apnea varies and depends on the root cause. Sleep apnea is often a result of congestive heart failure or nasal obstruction, which should be addressed first. If the cause is unknown, a person can receive gentle air pressure provided by a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device during sleep.
4. You can’t resist moving your legs
The feeling of needing to move your legs or walk around is provoked by an uncomfortable “creeping” sensation that most often begins in the lower legs, but can result in pain or discomfort throughout both legs. This sensation is called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Irregular amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine causes RLS and can be treated with medication.
5. You sleepwalk
Sleepwalking includes walking around and completing other activities while a person is asleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleepwalking can range from sitting up in bed and looking around to leaving the house or driving long distances. It is vital to wake up someone who is sleepwalking due to the possibility of injury.
6. You experience terrifying nightmares
Waking up from an occasional nightmare is normal. Screaming, thrashing, sweating and hyperventilating during sleep is abnormal. These symptoms are linked to night terrors, which most commonly occur in children but can also affect adults. Emotional tension is a contributing factor. If you experience night terrors, others may have trouble comforting you during an episode, and you may not remember the incident the next morning.
Since sleep is a natural component of life, disturbances in your slumber can cause serious health issues. Recognizing the warning signs of abnormal sleep can help you decide if a sleep study is right for you.
UnityPoint Health – Quad Cities can help you stop tossing and turning
Lack of sleep is not only debilitating, but frustrating as well. Trinity Sleep Center is dedicated to supporting you and providing you with quality sleep studies. Is a sleep study right for you? Contact the Trinity Sleep Center for more information.
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