Many people struggle with sleeping, from waking up in the night to struggling to fall asleep to sleeping too much. At The Sleep Shop, we are passionate about giving you the very best night’s sleep, so take a look at our guide to sleep disorders. A sleep disorder is categorised as changes and problems in the way you sleep, so there is a chance you have a sleep disorder that hasn’t been diagnosed yet. However, there are many things that can cause problems with sleeping, and there are some simple changes you can make to ensure you have a better nights sleep. We look at some of the main sleep disorders, their symptoms and ways that you might be able to improve your sleep. Remember, if you have serious concerns, it is always wise to see a doctor.
Common Sleep Disorders
There are many common sleep disorders which affect millions of people. Sleep is essential to how we function, and a sleep disorder can have serious consequences for your mood, work and mental health.
Insomnia is often the first sleep disorder people think of, and it means that you regularly have problems sleeping. The NHS guide to insomnia lists symptoms as waking up in the night, lying awake at night, struggling to get to sleep, waking up early and not being able to sleep. It can also mean that you feel tired after waking up, feel tired and irritable in the day, find it difficult to nap and difficult to concentrate.
Another sleep disorder you may be familiar with is Narcolepsy, which means falling asleep in the day, excessively or uncontrollably. You may suffer from sleep attacks, which cause you to fall asleep suddenly, and there are other symptoms such as sleep paralysis, excessive dreaming at night or cataplexy – loss of muscle control. Research has shown that narcolepsy is often caused by a lack of hypocretin (orexin) which is the brain chemical that regulates wakefulness.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep condition where you stop breathing in your sleep, meaning you wake up frequently in the night. The walls of your throat relax and narrow during sleep which can interrupt breathing. Some people find it hard to remember these episodes, which can leave the condition undiagnosed. However, symptoms include loud snoring, short periods where breathing is interrupted and noisy or laboured breathing. This pulls you out of deep sleep meaning the quality of your sleep is reduced, so you may feel tired in the day. Some people have higher risk factors of sleep apnea so it is worth checking out those if you think you have some of the symptoms. There are several successful treatment options available, including a Continuous Positive Air Pressure device and sleep apnea can be diagnosed with a simple sleep test.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Night shifts, rotating shifts and awkward working hours can all lead to poor sleep. You may struggle to concentrate during working hours or experience difficulties falling asleep when you aren’t at work. There are several ways you can improve your sleep to aid with shift work sleep disorder.
Parasomnia is a term for abnormal things that happen when you sleep, such as night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleepwalking and hallucinations. These can be both distressing for you and anyone who sleeps with you, so it is worth keeping track of episodes and trying to improve your sleep routine.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep
There are so many ways you can improve your sleep, and it is worth trying them out to see whether you can get a better night’s sleep through lifestyle changes. These include:
Improving Your Sleep Space
This can mean thick curtains or a blackout blind to stop light interfering with your sleep, earplugs to block out noise or getting a new mattress to provide a better sleeping environment.
Cutting Down Stimuli Before you Sleep
When your brain is over stimulated it can be hard to sleep so it is important to try and cut these out of your evenings. This can include avoiding TV before you sleep, keeping your smartphone downstairs or avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
Keeping a Sleep Diary
A sleep diary can allow you to keep track of your sleep and learn what patterns work best for you. There are lots of online templates you can use and this can be incredibly useful if you go to the doctor about your sleep.
Relaxing Before Bed
This can allow you to unwind and slow down after a busy day before you try and sleep. Try having a hot bath before you got to bed, listen to some relaxing music or read a book.
If you are worried about your breathing at night, or excessive snoring, you can try throat or mouth exercises to strengthen those muscles. You could even try learning the didgeridoo!
Routine is another thing that is essential to healthy sleep. Try and go to bed at the same time, incorporate relaxation in the evening and try not to nap in the day.
For high-quality mattresses and beds to ensure you get the best sleep of your life, browse our collection at The Sleep Shop today.