Sleeping disorders are more common than you might think. According to Aviva’s Wellbeing Report 2017, more than 16 million adults in the UK suffer from sleepless nights. This roughly translates to 1 in every three adults struggling with sleep.
Of the number above, only about 4.9 million are diagnosed with insomnia. These numbers speak to a deeper problem – a lack of knowledge about sleep disorders. Too many people living in the UK don’t get enough sleep. On the one hand, they don’t know why and never try to find out, while on the other, they erroneously tag every sleep struggle with insomnia and try to self-treat at home. A third group ignore their symptoms and try to adjust to life without quality sleep.
The consequences of these actions are far-reaching on the health of the individual. Sleep deprivation can cause a lack of focus, the development of bad habits that lead to health complications, and memory loss, among other dangerous side effects.
Some sleep disorders can lead to the individual’s death if not handled appropriately and immediately. But what do you do if you think you have a sleeping disorder?
First things first, don’t panic. Sleep disorders generally have a treatment, and they can be managed if they aren’t curable.
Now that you’re calm, the next step is to keep a sleep journal.
Start A Sleep Journal
A sleep journal is very similar to a food journal. It’s a book where you note down information about your sleep. The purpose of keeping a sleep journal is to track your sleep and note any irregularities. Through keeping a sleep journal, some people can note habits and activities that could be causing them difficulty falling asleep.
Here are some things to note about your sleep:
- How long do you sleep?
- When do you sleep?
- Do you struggle to fall asleep, and for how long?
- Do you wake up at night, and how long does it take you to fall asleep again?
- How do you feel after you wake up in the mornings and throughout the day? Do you feel irritated, tired, or sleepy?
- Do you take any naps, and how long were they?
- If you snore.
If you have a sleep tracker, it could help you collect this information and even more about your sleep. Keep a sleep journal for two to three weeks. At the end of 2 weeks, match your symptoms with symptoms of common sleep disorders. If your observations show continuous distortion in your sleep-wake cycle, skip the next step and see a doctor.
Try Some Home Remedies
You might suffer from a mild case of insomnia. A simple lifestyle change and a few home remedies can correct mild or short-term sleep disorders. How do you know if your case is mild or severe? Duration.
Think back to how long you’ve struggled with getting enough quality sleep. If it has been six months or less, then you have a mild case, but if yours has lasted for a year or more, it’s a severe case, and you should move straight to the next step.
If you fall under the short-term mark, try some home remedies and tricks to correct your sleep cycle. Here are a few suggestions.
Use a fall asleep app to help you fall asleep early
Consider downloading the best sleep apps for iPhone or Android, which can help you get a better night’s sleep. Many people distrust fall asleep apps and question if they work. Some do, especially when they design their products in line with the science of psychoacoustics.
To help you enjoy a revolutionary sleeping experience, you can also try white noise apps. It is believed that such applications improve the overall quality of sleep by raising the hearing threshold. This means you are less likely to hear background noises like snoring, door slamming or road traffic noises over white noise.
Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks at night
Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can make it hard to fall asleep, while sugar may negatively affect your ability to stay asleep.
Put away all screens 30 minutes to an hour before bed
The blue light emitted from the screen of your devices inhibits the production of melatonin, a well-known hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. This, in turn, makes it even more difficult to fall asleep quickly and wake up the next day.
Taking melatonin pills
Since melatonin acts on receptors in your body to induce sleep, taking melatonin pills can help increase the body’s natural supply of this hormone. However, speak to your doctor first before taking them, and begin with the smallest dose.
If you try these home remedies and they don’t work, see a doctor for professional help.
Visit A Doctor
If you feel your case is severe or the sleep remedies didn’t work, you should visit a doctor or sleep specialist who might run further tests to know what is wrong. After these tests, they’ll recommend a treatment plan for you.
After being tested and diagnosed, the last step is getting treatment which varies based on the sleep disorder you’re struggling with. Common treatments for sleep disorders are:
- Behavioural therapy;
- Positive Airway Pressure Therapy.
Some sleep disorders like narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome don’t have a cure but can be managed well with medication and therapy.
Having a sleep disorder is not the end of the world. Make a conscious effort to find out if you have a sleep disorder.