What's Stopping Your Sleep?
Are you feeling tired after a long nights sleep? Are you coughing or snoring so loud you wake yourself or your partner up? Are you tossing and turning multiple times in the night? There could be a medical reason behind this. Alert your physician if you are experiencing any of the scenarios above, or think you may have one of the disorders below. Sleeping disorders are common in adults, but they can occur in children as well.
Sleep Apnea occurs when the upper airway is repeatedly blocked while sleeping. Symptoms of this include silent pauses in breathing, loud/frequent snoring, morning headaches, choking sounds, and difficulty concentrating during the day. Being overweight (BMI>25) is a significant risk factor for Sleep Apnea. However, you do not have to be overweight to have Sleep Apnea, but if weight is the reason for the disorder then losing weight can help. A thicker neck puts extra pressure on the airway while sleeping. Losing weight typically help to thin you the neck which could cause the symptoms to decrease.
Lifestyle changes: Sleep on your side as much as possible. This causes less pressure on the airway to collapse. Hints: Pillows can be propped against your back that way you cannot turn over as easily.
Behavior changes: quitting smoking or not drinking alcohol may improve the symptoms. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles which can allow your airway to collapse more easily which causes snoring. Weight management can also help improve Sleep Apnea symptoms.
Do you feel an itching, burning or throbbing sensation in your legs when you go to bed? Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is the strong urge to need to move your legs, and it can make it difficult to get comfortable to fall asleep. The symptoms are feeling your legs tingling, burning, which may be worse if sitting for extended periods. The symptoms usually go away after standing or walking. It can cause you to get fewer hours of sleep which can cause irritability the next day, less concentration, and impact your life. People with RLS are more likely to have depression or anxiety, and women are twice as likely to have it as men. Age may also play a role--the risk of RLS increases around age 45. It can also be caused by pregnancy, medications, low iron levels, diabetes and more. If you think you have these symptoms, you should speak with your doctor. Bring a sleep diary talking about how long you slept and what your symptoms were.
Lifestyle changes: Ways to help reduce symptoms are to begin regular exercise. This could be just as simple as walking or riding a bike. Be careful not overdo it, however, because symptoms may become worse.
Behavior changes: Reduce stress, quit smoking, drink less caffeine, and let your legs soak in a hot bath or massage them before bed. Your doctor may also prescribe medications.
Does your child not go to be unless they are forced too? Do they stay awake as long as possible? Do they get up a repeated amount of times to get a drink of water or wander around the house? The scenarios above are associated with Child Insomnia. This is typically a simple problem to correct as long as there is nothing medically occurring along with it. If you suspect your child could have insomnia, speak with their doctor and consider keeping a sleep diary. The diary should include two weeks’ worth of bedtime/wake-up time, and how often they are getting up in the night.
Lifestyle changes: Having the adult/parent set limits on bedtime is the primary way to help this problem. If the bedtime is 8 pm, the child should be in bed at 8 pm, not getting ready for bed.
Behavior changes: The child should not get out of bed over and over again. If toys in the room are too tempting, it may be wise to take them away at bedtime. Consider incentives or a reward system for staying in bed. The child should be able to fall asleep without the parent's help.