Sleep is not just ‘time out’ from our busy routines. We need to sleep well to help our bodies recover from the day, to allow healing to take place, and to let our brains process everything we’ve seen and heard during the day. However, with increasingly busy lives, it’s estimated that we now sleep around 90 minutes less each night than we did in the 1920s.1 This doesn’t sound like much but, if you add it up each night, it becomes clear that you’re not getting the sleep you need. Lack of sleep can make us feel physically unwell, anxious, and stressed. Sleeping problems can usually be solved with a relaxing bath before bedtime or reading a book instead of watching TV for an hour before you go to bed. However, some people can experience common sleeping disorders without even knowing that something is keeping them awake.
What Are the Most Common Sleep Disorders?
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, and is thought to affect an estimated 20% of people.2 Symptoms can include:
- Problems falling asleep
- Problems staying asleep – you may find that you wake up several times each night
- Waking up too early
- Sleepiness during the day
- Impaired concentration and memory
You can experience short-term insomnia, which can last for a few nights or a few weeks. This can be caused by stress, extreme temperature changes, changes in environmental noise levels, a different routine, or can even be side effects from medicines.
Chronic insomnia can last for a month or longer, often resulting from a combination of factors that can include underlying physical or mental health problems. It can also be due to behavioural factors, such as too much caffeine or alcohol, or a long-term disruption to your routine, like shift work.
Find out more about insomnia here.
Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that upsets how the body regulates your sleep patterns. One of the main symptoms is excessive sleepiness, with sufferers able to fall asleep at work, when talking, or even when driving a car. These sudden sleeps can last from thirty seconds to more than thirty minutes, regardless of how much sleep you’re getting at night. Read more about narcolepsy in our article, ‘Narcolepsy and Sleep‘.
Sleep apnoea is a breathing disorder during sleep and is typically accompanied by loud snoring. Someone with sleep apnoea will stop breathing momentarily at intervals during the night. This will wake them up briefly, constantly interrupting their rest so that they’re extremely tired during the day. Usually, they aren’t aware of these fleeting awakenings. You can read more about sleep apnoea here.
In one form of sleep apnoea (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea), the upper airway is restricted, and this can be potentially life-threatening. If you suspect that you’re suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, visit your doctor as medical attention is very important.
Tips for Helping Sleeping Disorders
- Exercise regularly – but no later than three hours before bedtime
- Limit your tea and coffee intake during the day
- Don’t drink a lot of alcohol before bed
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
- Do not use your bed for daytime hobbies – your bed should only be associated with sleep
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
- Consider a weighted blanket. The extra weight offered by these blankets can create a sense of security, and they may help calm or comfort restless or stressed individuals. You can browse our selection of weighted blankets here – it’s recommended that you choose one that’s about 10% of your overall weight.
There are many ways to help sleeping disorders at home. However, as there could be an underlying physical or mental condition causing a bad sleep, it’s always important to consult your doctor, as they will help you find the right solution.