Sleep is as important as eating, and it is a basic human essential for our overall health. While we sleep, our body goes through a ‘repair and restoration mode’. Sleeping is our body’s way to repair cells, muscles, and tissues naturally. So you can feel fresh and brand new the next day. 

Without adequate sleep, this may affect our physical and mental health. Most importantly, it can affect your everyday life. Your crankiness may affect relationships, poor work performance, and if you lack your sleep you may not enjoy your daily life. Does sleep disorders affect your everyday life? Maybe reading through this article can help you. 

What Are Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are defined as a group of conditions that affect a person’s ability to sleep well or to stay asleep. It can be caused by an underlying health problem, stress, work schedules, or environmental factors. 

The lack of sleep can interfere with your everyday activities and may affect your mood and energy throughout the day. In addition, did you know that sleep deprivation causes health problems? People who lack quality sleep may have memory issues, mood changes, difficulty in concentrating, high blood pressure, weakened immunity, at risk for diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and many more.

What Are the 5 Major Sleep Disorders?

The five major sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), narcolepsy, and REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. There are many classifications of sleep disorders, but today, we will focus on these five major sleep disorders common to most Americans. 

  1. Insomnia: Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person finds it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep and find it hard to go back to sleep. Insomnia symptoms also include waking up several times at night, waking up early but unable to go back to sleep, feeling tired after waking up, daytime sleepiness but is unable to fall asleep, cranky the whole day, and unable to take daytime naps. 

  1. Sleep Apnea: It is a sleep disorder where the person experiences abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping. Persons with sleep apnea snore loudly, are excessively sleepy during the daytime, experience daytime sleepiness, short episodes where breathing stops while sleeping, abrupt awakening while sleeping accompanied by feelings of choking or gasping for breath (especially for obstructive sleep apnea), wakes up with a sore throat or dry mouth, and morning headache. 

  1. Restless legs syndrome (RLS): Restless Leg Syndrome is a type of sleep disorder that involves the uncomfortable sensation and uncontrollable urge to move your legs while you’re trying to fall asleep. The symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome are painful cramping, throbbing, itching, burning, and tingling sensation of the legs. 

  1. Narcolepsy: This is a type of chronic sleep disorder characterized by extreme sleepiness, daytime sleepiness, and sudden episodes of falling asleep within the day. People with narcolepsy find it hard to stay awake, which can be dangerous when driving and operating heavy machinery. 

  1. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder: People with this type of sleep disorder physically act out unpleasant dreams. This involves violent leg and arm movements, talking, laughing, shouting, and even cursing while sleeping. 

What Causes Sleeping Disorder?

Sleep disorders have many causes, but the bottom line is that it disrupts a person’s sleep-wake cycle. Here are some of the reason why a person can’t get enough sleep:

  • Physical conditions like chronic pain from a disease or a medical issue
  • Mental issues like anxiety and depression
  • Short-term insomnia caused by life stressors like a death of a loved one or loss of employment
  • Long-term or chronic insomnia includes the difficulty of falling asleep three nights a week for the past three months. This can be caused by chronic stress, depression, or chronic pain at night. 
  • Environmental factors like uncomfortable room temperature, loud snoring of your partner, or a bright room. 
  • Genetics can also play a factor in sleep disorders, especially in the case of narcolepsy. 
  • Night shift work can also contribute to sleep disorders
  • Medications such as antidepressants, anti-hypertension, and cold medicines can interfere with sleep 

How Can Lack of Sleep Affect Your Mental Health?

Here’s what you need to know, some psychiatric problems cause sleep deprivation, and the lack of sleep for people with psychiatric problems may cause worsening of mental illness. Sleep plays an important role in the development and maintenance of our mental health. 

It’s as simple as this: when a person without psychiatric problems negatively responds to lack of sleep, how much more a person with psychiatric issues? For a person with a healthy mental state but experiences sleep disorder, their mental health may get affected and may lead to anxiety and depression. For a person with an existing mental illness, it may worsen their condition. 

Related: Start the Day Off Right: 5 Things to Try When You Wake Up for a Better Day

How Can I Fix My Sleeping Disorder?

When you are unable to sleep well at night for a few days now, you can try these tips on how to fix your sleeping problems:

  • Get out of the house and be exposed to natural daylight. This will trigger your normal body clock known as the circadian rhythm (wake up at day and sleep at night). 
  • Reduce light exposure at night, and this includes reduced screen time, especially when in bed. 
  • Avoid consuming caffeine-containing products like energy drinks, coffee, chocolate, or green tea late in the day. 
  • Avoid daytime napping or short power naps if you have difficulty falling asleep at night. 
  • Sleep and wake up at the same time every day and set the alarm if needed. 
  • Take supplements that can help you fall asleep, like melatonin, Ginkgo Biloba, glycine, valerian root, magnesium, or lavender. Make sure to consult with a doctor or a mental health care provider before you take these supplements. 
  • Optimize a comfortable sleeping environment, set a cozy temperature in your room, get a comfortable pillow, bed, and mattress 

Can Therapy Help With My Sleeping Disorder?

Yes, therapy can help with some sleeping disorders. If you really find it difficult to fall asleep or staying asleep despite following some of the tips above, it’s probably time you should look into seeing a counselor. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Relaxation Training are the most commonly used therapy for insomnia and other sleep disorders. 

If you can’t leave your house to consult with a therapist, perhaps you can try Telehealth Online Counseling from Kentucky Counseling Center. Do not delay in seeking treatment, and do not let sleep disorders affect your everyday life. 

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