I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the past year. How do I know what’s disrupting my sleep? Do I need to see a doctor?
There are many reasons for disrupted sleep. The most common sleep disorders include insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, sleep apnea – a breathing disorder often associated with snoring, and restless leg syndrome and other movement disorders. Discomfort from conditions such as arthritis can also disrupt sleep. A lot of people think their sleep problem is just an annoyance but people with sleep disorders are at risk for developing other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart problems.
People who suffer with poor sleep often feel drowsy and fall asleep during the day, affecting their daily activities and creating dangers such as falling asleep at the wheel.
Sleep disorders can also prevent spouses and partners from getting a full night’s sleep with disruptions such as snoring, agitated movements, talking, and sleepwalking, which can place a strain on relationships.
Sleep apnea is significantly under-diagnosed in the United States and can be very serious. People with sleep apnea frequently stop breathing throughout the night due to either a problem with the brain signaling muscles to breath, known as central sleep apnea, or, more commonly, from an obstructed airway, known as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can prevent the body from getting enough oxygen during sleep and can lead to stroke or heart failure if left untreated. If you often feel drowsy or fall asleep during the day or have other bothersome symptoms from poor sleep, you should talk to your doctor.