What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping

What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping
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What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping

Sleeping difficulty is when you have trouble sleeping at night. It may be hard for you to fall asleep, or you may wake up several times throughout the night. What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping

Sleep difficulty may affect your physical and mental health. Lack of sleep may also cause you to have frequent headaches or trouble concentrating.

Most people experience difficulty sleeping at some point in their lives. Some people may feel refreshed after only six or seven hours of sleep. However, most adults need about eight hours of sleep every night to feel tested trusted Source.

Signs of sleeping difficulty may include an inability to focus during the day, frequent headaches, irritability, daytime fatigue, waking up too early, waking up throughout the night, or taking several hours to fall asleep.

You may also experience low energy during the day or have noticeably dark circles under your eyes.

What causes sleeping difficulties?

In adults

There are many possible reasons for sleeplessness, including your sleeping habits, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions. Some causes are minor and may improve with self-care, while others may require you to seek medical attention.

Causes of sleeplessness may include aging, too much stimulation before bedtime (such as watching television, playing video games, or exercising), consuming too much caffeine, noise disturbances, an uncomfortable bedroom, or a feeling of excitement.

Sleeping too much during the day, lack of exposure to sunlight, frequent urination, physical pain, jet lag, and some prescription medications may also lead to difficulty sleeping.

For many people, stress, worry, depression, or work schedules may also affect their sleep. For others, sleep issues are due to a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.

In infants

Sleeplessness may also occur in infants. It’s normal for newborns to wake up several times throughout the night. However, most infants will start to sleep through the night after they’re 6 months old.

If an older infant is showing signs of sleeplessness, it may be a sign that they’re teething, sick, hungry, or bothered by gas or digestive problems.

What are sleep disorders?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where there’s a blockage in the upper airways. This results in pauses in breathing throughout the night that may cause you to abruptly wake up, often with a choking sound. Snoring commonly occurs in this disorder.

Restless legs syndrome may also trigger sleeping difficulty. This condition causes uncomfortable sensations in your legs, such as tingling or aching. These sensations give you the urge to make your legs move frequently, including while resting, which can interrupt your sleep.

Delayed sleep phase disorder is another condition that can affect sleep. This condition causes a delay in the 24-hour cycle of sleep and wakefulness. You may not feel sleepy or fall asleep until the middle of the night. This sleep cycle makes it harder for you to wake up in the early morning and leads to daytime fatigue.

How are sleeping disorders diagnosed?

You should see a doctor if your sleeping difficulties are ongoing and affecting your quality of life. They’ll attempt to find the underlying cause of your sleeplessness by conducting a physical examination and asking questions about your sleep patterns. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

During your appointment, be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription medications, over-the-counter products, and herbal supplements that you take. Some medications and supplements cause overstimulation and can disrupt your sleep if taken too close to bedtime.

You should also mention if you’re experiencing other problems, such as depression, anxiety, or chronic pain. These factors may also affect your ability to sleep.

To determine the cause of sleeplessness, your doctor may recommend that you keep a sleep diary.

You should record your entire day’s activities and sleep habits, such as the time you went to bed, the time you woke up, the amount of food and the drinks you consumed, your mood, any medications you took, your activity level, and your quality of sleep.

Keeping a sleep record helps your doctor pinpoint habits that may trigger sleep issues.

If your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or another sleep disorder, they may schedule a sleep study test. For this test, you’ll spend the night in a hospital or sleep center.

The sleep specialist will observe you throughout the night. Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, oxygen level, and brain waves will be monitored for any signs of a sleep disorder.

What are the treatment options for sleeping disorders?
What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping

Lifestyle changes

What You Should Know About Difficulty Sleeping

Treatment for your sleeplessness depends on its cause. In some cases, at-home remedies or simple lifestyle changes can improve the quality of your sleep. You may want to avoid caffeine and alcohol for at least a few or more hours before bed.

Limit any daytime napping to 30 minutes or none at all if possible. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.

Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime, and allow seven to eight hours for sleep each night. Listening to soothing music and taking a hot bath before bedtime may also help. Keep a regular sleep schedule.

Sleeping aids

You may also purchase some sleep aids without a prescription. However, sleep aids can cause daytime drowsiness if you don’t get a full seven or eight hours of sleep. Also, don’t use these products daily, as it may lead to dependency.

Remember to always read the directions closely and take the medication as directed.

Treating the underlying condition

If a medical condition or sleep disorder is causing your problems, you’ll need treatment for the underlying condition.

For example, if your sleep is affected by an anxiety disorder or depression, your doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication to help you cope with worry, stress, and feelings of hopelessness.

Outlook for people with sleeping difficulties

If left untreated, chronic sleep problems can greatly affect your qualify of life. Your reaction time when driving may decrease, which increases your risk of an accident.

Poor sleep quality may also reduce your performance levels on the job or at school. It may also weaken your immune system, resulting in more colds and illnesses.

Talk to your doctor if your sleeping problems become frequent. Your doctor can help recommend various treatment methods.

Tips That Help You Fall Asleep Quickly

Good sleep is incredibly important.

It helps you feel good and makes your body and brain function properly.

Some people have no problem falling asleep. However, many others have severe difficulty falling and staying asleep through the night.

Poor sleep can have negative effects on many parts of your body and brain, including learning, memory, mood, emotions, and various biological functions.

1. Lower the temperature

Your body temperature changes as you fall asleep. Your body cools down when you lie down and warms up when you get up.

If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep. Setting your thermostat to a cool temperature between 60–67°F (15.6–19.4°C) could help.

Individual preferences will vary, so find the temperature that works best for you.

Taking a warm bath or shower could also help speed up the body’s temperature changes. As your body cools down afterward, this can send a signal to your brain to go to sleep.

One literature review found that taking a hot bath or shower before bed could improve certain sleep parameters, such as sleep efficiency and sleep quality.

Sleep efficiency refers to the amount of time you spend asleep in bed as opposed to lying awake.

People who took baths or showers measuring between 104°F–108.5°F (40.0°C–42.5°C) 1 to 2 hours before bedtime experienced positive results.

They reported improvements in their sleep even if their baths or showers lasted for as little as 10 minutes.

More research is needed, but these findings are promising.

2. Use the 4-7-8 breathing method

The “4-7-8” method that Dr. Andrew Weil developed is a simple but powerful breathing method that promotes calmness and relaxation. It might also help you unwind before bed (7).

It’s based on breath control techniques learned from yoga, and it consists of a breathing pattern that relaxes the nervous system. It can be practiced any time you feel anxious or stressed.

Here are the steps:

  1. First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth and make a “whoosh” sound.
  3. Close your mouth, and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to 4.
  4. Hold your breath, and mentally count to 7.
  5. Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a “whoosh” sound and mentally counting to 8.
  6. Repeat this cycle at least three more times.

This technique can relax you and help you fall asleep quickly.

3. Get on a schedule

Many people find that setting a sleep schedule helps them fall asleep easier.

Your body has its regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night.

Waking up and going to bed at the same times each day can help your internal clock keep a regular schedule.

Once your body adjusts to this schedule, it’ll be easier to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day.

It’s also important to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. This is the optimal sleep duration for adults.

Lastly, give yourself 30–45 minutes to wind down in the evening before getting in bed. This allows your body and mind to relax and prepare for sleep.

4. Experience both daylight and darkness

Light can influence your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness.

Irregular light exposure can lead to the disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and stay awake.

During the day, exposing your body to bright light tells it to stay alert. Both natural daylight and artificial light, such as the kind emitted from an e-reader, have this effect on your alertness.

At night, darkness promotes feelings of sleepiness. Research shows that darkness boosts the production of melatonin, an essential hormone for sleep. The body secretes very little melatonin during the day.

Get out and expose your body to sunlight or artificial bright light throughout the day. If possible, use blackout curtains to make your room dark at night.

5. Visualize things that make you happy

Instead of lying in bed worrying and thinking about stressful things, visualize a place that makes you feel happy and calm.

In one insomnia study, participants were able to fall asleep faster after they were instructed to use an imagery distraction.

This technique helped them occupy their mind with good thoughts instead of engaging with worries and concerns during pre-sleep time.

Picturing and concentrating on an environment that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed can take your mind away from the thoughts that keep you up at night.

SOURCE – HEALTHLINE

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