Sleep is integral to overall health and wellness. Quality sleep allows the body to rest, heal, and replenish which is necessary for the proper function of its systems. This allows the body to sustain itself, providing us with the energy we need to navigate daily life. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night which millions of people are not receiving.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 35% of adults sleep less than 7 hours per night. We are all likely familiar with the impact of lack of sleep: excessive tiredness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, etc. But inconsistent sleep can also produce long-term effects on overall health by causing the development of sleep disorders. It is important to be aware of the signs of sleep issues and address symptoms early!
Signs of Sleep Issues
You should seek treatment for sleep issues if you have experienced any of the following signs:
- consistent difficulty falling asleep
- you don’t often stay asleep and/or wake up earlier than anticipated
- feeling really tired upon waking up (compared to feeling rested and refreshed)
- needing to take naps during the day
- experiencing fatigue throughout the day
- completing tasks and performing basic activities throughout the day is more challenging
- difficulty focusing
- falling asleep while watching tv, reading, listening to audio etc.
- your partner tells you that during your sleep you: snore, make abnormal movements, gasp for air, or do anything else that seems unusual
According to the Sleep Foundation, if you experience any of these symptoms “more than one night a week for multiple weeks”, you should consult with your doctor.
Seeking Treatment: How to Prepare & What to Expect
After scheduling an appointment to discuss your sleep experiences, there are useful ways you can best prepare for the appointment. Two useful ways that you can prepare and also maximize your appointment is by:
- Keeping a Sleep Journal: in the weeks leading up to your appointment, it would be incredibly beneficial to track your sleep patterns. This includes noting: what time you fall asleep, how many times you wake up, how long it takes to fall back asleep, if you use the bathroom, how long you sleep each day, how you feel the next day, and any other relevant notes (snoring, movements etc.). It is also helpful to note any exercise routines or activities you engage in daily as well as any ways that you have already tried to improve your sleep.
- Preparing Questions: it is important to have your sleep concerns fully addressed. Taking the time to write down the questions you have is a great way to ensure that you receive the information you need.
Bringing your sleep journal and concerns to the appointment will help the doctor conduct a thorough assessment of your sleep history. You can expect that the appointment will likely consist of:
- Sleep History Assessment: your doctor will ask a range of questions to help identify and diagnose what could be causing your sleep issues. Questions will likely cover: the sleep issues you have been experiencing, for how long, symptoms, when did you first notice, impact of these sleep issues on daily life, how long does it take you to fall asleep, what time do you sleep, how often do you wake up, exercise activities, consumption of caffeine and nicotine, questions about mental health etc.
- Physical Exam: in addition to asking questions, your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam – listening to heart rate, inspecting tonsils, neck etc.
The information provided from these assessments will help establish causes of sleep issues and effective treatment options.
Treating sleep issues depend on the underlying cause that is impacting one’s sleep. Common causes of sleep concerns are:
- Sleep disorders: the most common sleep disorders are insomnia and sleep apnea
- Medical conditions: including diabetes, depression, hormonal changes
Sleep specialists recommend self-managed treatment as a first option. This focuses on changing behavior to create better conditions to receive quality sleep – creating a sleep schedule, increasing physical activity, managing stress more effectively, changing diet etc.
If these strategies are not effective, we’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more about our sleep services.