Delaying treatment for a health concern is never a good idea. A good rule of thumb is that if something hurts or bothers you for more than 24-48 hours, it’s time to get it checked out by a healthcare professional. Even what seems like a small concern may have a big impact on your overall health or it could be a sign that something serious needs to be addressed. If you’re wondering whether you or a loved one may need a sleep test, look out for these signs.
Signs of a Sleep Disorder
You may be more than just “tired” if you have any one or more of these symptoms.
1. I have difficulty concentrating.
Any individual will not perform at the highest capacity when they are deprived of sleep, especially over long periods of time1. The brain and the entire body require sleep to thrive. Sleep allows the brain to repair damaged cells. The space between the brain cells grows larger while a person sleeps, to allow for clearing and repairing the brain.
2. I’m often irritable.
Sleep disorders can put a strain on relationships due to the irritability caused by a lack of sleep. It can impact your mood and even work performance.
3. I have to take a nap every day.
It’s normal to enjoy an afternoon nap every now and then, but if a nap is needed every day to function it’s likely because you aren’t getting a proper amount of sleep each night. In this case, a nap isn’t helping to remedy the tiredness.
4. I snore.
Often, the first obvious sign of a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is snoring. Snoring in itself occurs when the throat muscles relax and partially block the airway. It then vibrates, creating the “snoring” sound. This is very similar to the phenomena that occurs when an individual has OSA.
5. I have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Although it may seem obvious, many people do not recognize that their inability to do this means they may have a sleeping disorder. It often gets brushed off as something else that they believe they can change on their own without medical treatment.
6. I have a chronic health condition.
If a person has any chronic health condition, such as chronic pain, they will be more likely to have a sleep disorder. Pain is one of the most common causes of insomnia.
7. I have depression.
Depression and sleep disorders can be difficult to understand. Sometimes the sleep disorder can cause depression and vice versa. Research shows that a person is ten times more likely to develop depression if they have an untreated sleep disorder2.
8. I have trouble staying awake while driving.
Untreated sleep disorders don’t just impact those experiencing them, but it can put others in serious harm when it comes to the road. Accidents can be caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
It’s important to have a sleep disorder diagnosed and to develop good sleep habits. These are basics that are a good standard of practice for everyone. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, it’s even more important that you follow some of these tips.
Frequent Exercise – Getting out excess energy aids in nighttime restlessness.
Get Outside – Natural light is great for mental health and will help train the brain to know when to sleep.
Avoid Caffeine – A pick-me-up in the morning is fine, but avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
Set a Schedule – Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day of the week to train your brain.
Create a Relaxing Space – Create an atmosphere that’s relaxing and dark. It’s important to not have distractions like TV or a smartphone on an hour before sleep. You will be able to fall asleep faster when the blue lights from electronics don’t trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime again.
Taking the step to get a sleep test can seem like a giant leap, but we promise to help in any way that we can, no matter the outcome. If you want to schedule your appointment or have questions, feel free to reach out here.
Hungin, A., & Close, H. (2010). Sleep disturbances and health problems: sleep matters. The British Journal of General Practice, 60(574), 319–320. doi:10.3399/bjgp10X484147
Daniel J. Taylor, Kenneth L. Lichstein, H. Heith Durrence, Brant W. Reidel, Andrew J. Bush. Sleep. 2005 Nov; 28(11): 1457–1464. Epidemiology of insomnia, depression, and anxiety.