Even if you’ve struggled with sleep problems for so long that it seems normal, you can still learn to sleep better. You can start by tracking your symptoms and sleep patterns, and then making healthy changes to your daytime habits and bedtime routine. If self-help doesn’t do the trick, you can turn to sleep specialists who are trained in sleep medicine. Together, you can identify the underlying causes of your sleeping problem and find ways to improve your sleep and quality of life.
What to do: If you suspect you have a circadian rhythm disorder, take steps to get your body onto a regular sleep schedule. Choose a bedtime and wake-up time that work for you, and follow the same routine each day, even on weekends. This can be tough for those who have to get up early during the week but like to stay up later on weekends, but do your best to craft a compromise between your work week and weekend habits. The important thing is to avoid the trap of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, then suddenly shifting to late nights and late mornings on the weekends. This will inevitably leave you with insomnia on Sunday night, which in turn sets you up to start the week exhausted on Monday morning.
Sleep apnea is a common (and treatable) sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep, awakening you frequently. If you have sleep apnea you may not remember these awakenings, but you’ll likely feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in your productivity. Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, so see a doctor right away and learn how to help yourself.
Primary sleep disorders are most common in men and women over the age of 65. About half of the people claim to have some sleep problem at one point. It is most common in the elderly because of multiple factors. Factors include increased medication use, age-related changes in circadian rhythms, environmental and lifestyle changes [3] and pre diagnosed physiological problems and stress. The risk of developing sleep disorders in the elderly is especially increased for sleep disordered breathing, periodic limb movements, lestless legs syndrome, REM sleep behavior disorders, insomnia and circadian rhythm disturbances.[3]
Now consider noise. If a ticking clock disturbs you, buy one that doesn't tick, or use your phone. Turn clock radios and MP3 players to the wall and cover lighted screens. Lay in supplies of earplugs, eye masks, and anything else that helps screen out light as well as sound. Some people find a fan or white-noise machine is soothing and blocks out street noise. If you don't like wearing earplugs or an eye mask when you fall asleep, keep them on your bedside table in case you wake up later. Many people find they're more sensitive to light and sound in the middle of the night.
Apnea means "no airflow." Obstructive sleep apnea was thought to be a disorder primarily of overweight, older men. But abnormal breathing during sleep can affect people of any age, any weight, and either sex. Researchers now know that in many cases of sleep apnea, the obstruction in the airways is only partial. Most people with sleep apnea have a smaller-than-normal inner throat and other subtle bone and soft-tissue differences.
If your snoring is loud and uneven, erupts in snorts, or you sound like you're catching your breath or there are gaps in your breathing, these are signs of obstructive sleep apnea, the most severe type of sleep-disordered breathing. People with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep because of a blockage in the mouth or throat, most commonly the soft tissues in the back of the throat, which collapse and close off.
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