It’s estimated that at least 50 million American adults live with at least one sleep disorder.
And since sleep is essential to good health and well-being, all this sleep disturbance significantly impacts daytime functioning and quality of life.
Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or poor quality sleep despite adequate opportunities for at least three nights per week. It comes alongside significant distress to a person’s emotional, social, or occupational life.
Treatment strategies for insomnia typically include a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and medications.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people change how they think about sleep and sleep habits. It can help you relearn healthy sleep habits and reduce the anxiety and worry that can keep you up at night.
Relaxation techniques, such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), can help you to reduce the physical tension that can make it hard to fall asleep.
PMR involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout the body. Starting with your toes and feet, you tense the muscles for 5-10 seconds and relax. Then your calves – flex for a few seconds, and then let go. Work your way up to your body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group, and feel the tension and stress melt away.
Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Syndrome
Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Syndrome (DSWPS) is characterized by a chronic pattern of late bedtimes and late wake times. People with DSWPS get enough quality sleep, but they can’t fall asleep or wake up at a “normal” time.
They may fall asleep at 4 am and not wake up until noon or later.
DSWPS is likely related to some form of misalignment between the body’s internal clock and the external light-dark cycle.
To correct your sleep schedule, avoid bright lights (including TV and other digital screens) in the evening, as this will signal to your body that it’s time to be awake. In the morning, expose yourself to as much natural light as possible. This will help to realign your body’s internal clock.
It can also help make sure you are eating (and not eating) at the appropriate times. If you are eating late at night and not eating during the day, this can give the wrong cues to your body’s clock and make it harder to sleep at night.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea have episodes throughout the night where they stop breathing for 10 seconds or more while asleep. This causes significant disruptions to their sleep and can lead to daytime fatigue.
Sleep apnea is usually treated with a CPAP machine, which helps keep the airway open and prevent apnea episodes.
The most significant risk factor for sleep apnea is obesity. If the tissues in your throat area are too fat, this can block the airway and cause apnea.
So, one of the best things you can do for sleep apnea is to lose weight. Even a tiny amount of weight loss can make a big difference.
You can also try sleeping in other positions that may help keep your airway open, such as on your side.
If you think you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor. There are treatments available that can help you get the quality sleep you need.