I can fall asleep, but I wake up throughout the night and never seem to feel rested the next day. How do I get a good night’s sleep?
There are several different stages of sleep that need to be reached in order to achieve quality rest. Many things can disrupt your ability to achieve quality sleep, including your external environment and medical problems.
Your external environment
An uncomfortable bed, constricting clothing, bright lights, and noises can be distracting while you slumber. Even a disruptive spouse who snores or tosses and turns could be the reason you don’t get rest!
Medical problems affect the sleep of millions of people. For example, heart problems such as congestive heart failure affect the ability to breathe comfortably; and nighttime diabetic hypoglycemic events can cause the body to release stress hormones and wake up.
Two of the most common medical conditions that disrupt people’s sleep are sleep apnea and restless limb syndrome.
Weight gain is the greatest risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, which is becoming increasingly prevalent. Common symptoms are snoring, apneic episodes (cessation of breathing), daytime fatigue, headaches, snoring, sleepy driving, and hypertension. The condition impairs your body’s ability to provide enough oxygen to the brain and body. This leads to a state of heightened alertness so your body can get the oxygen it needs. Often the patient is asleep, but just not able to reach the deeper stages required for rejuvenation. Simple interventions such as weight loss or the use of sleep apnea devices or oral appliances can help.
Restless limb syndrome (RLS), a problem that often goes undiagnosed, can wreak havoc on sleep patterns. Sufferers of RLS experience random jerking motions in the legs or arms as they fall asleep. While some kicking or jerking is normal, people with RLS experience it at a higher, disruptive frequency. In fact, for some people these movements even persist into the daytime too. People often describe an incessant need to keep their limb moving: if they stop moving, it creates anxiety. Rapid leg bouncing, constantly getting up to walk around, and the inability to sit still can all be warning signs. The culprit to this condition may be as simple as having iron levels that are too low. For more troublesome cases, there are some good medications designed just for these movement disorder conditions.
Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep! Sometimes the cause of vague daytime ailments can be traced back to nighttime troubles. If your rest doesn’t improve after evaluating and altering your nighttime routines, talk to your physician. There are some great diagnostic tests that can help identify disturbances. It’s worth the time to find the problem.