You are here because you think you might have a sleep disorder, but before we talk signs and symptoms, let’s talk definitions. A sleep disorder isn’t simply the reality of having trouble falling or staying asleep, but is a condition that disturbs your normal sleep patterns. There are over 80 different disorders that can chronically disrupt your sleep; among them are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy.
Having a sleep disorder automatically means you’re exhausted constantly. This can lead to injuries, chronic diseases, mental illnesses, poor quality of life and well-being, and lost work productivity. For many, their sleep disorder contributes to chronic conditions, including obesity, and even depression.
According to the CDC, over 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Are you one of them? Here are 10 clear signs that you might have a sleep disorder. If you experience a few of these, it’s time to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options.
1. Naps Galore
If you suffer from a sleep disorder, you have a strong desire to sleep during the day. Everyone gets a bit sleepy around 2pm, but this urge is very difficult to overcome with a quad-shot of espresso.
2. Elevated blood pressure
Many people with a sleep disorder also have elevated blood pressure. Each time you see a doctor for a check up, take note of your pressure—if it’s elevated, you might have a sleep disorder. High blood pressure can increase your risk of serious illnesses like heart attacks or strokes so talk to your doctor about this as soon as possible.
3. You Are Tired At The Wheel
Many of us are on autopilot every now and again while driving, but if you have a sleeping disorder, you can find yourself overwhelmingly exhausted at the wheel quite often.
4. Your Performance Drops
Whether you’re at school or work, you find that your ability to concentrate is suffering which negatively affects your performance. Some people report feeling cloudy all the time and unable to think straight which is a disaster in any presentation setting.
5. Out-Of-Whack Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural internal clock that runs along a 24-hour cycle. It’s how your body naturally falls asleep, stays asleep, and wakes up, activating at approximately the same time each day. With a sleep disorder, you can experience unintentional changes to your rhythm. You might wake up earlier or later than usual or find yourself struggling to stay awake at 7pm.
6. Difficulty With Sleep
One of the most common sleep disorder symptoms is difficulty falling or staying asleep. It’s not simply a one hour delay in falling asleep (as frustrating as that is), but can sometimes mean being up 3 hours past your bedtime and waking up every hour throughout the night. This symptom especially leaves you feeling fatigued for days later.
7. Unusual Breathing Patterns
If it’s difficult to maintain a regular breathing pattern at night, you might have sleep apnea. This occurs because your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing, causing your breath to start and stop throughout the night leading to poor-quality sleep.
8. Unusual Body Movements
If you have a sleep disorder, you might find yourself jerking a lot, twitching, or moving suddenly while falling asleep. You might even experience unusual movement while asleep.
Studies show that common sleep disorders like insomnia and narcolepsy can also be linked to depression. While chronically poor sleep can lead to increased tensions and irritability, on the flip side, a normal sleep pattern is restorative and encourages mental health.
10. Difficulty with Emotion Control
For people who are chronically exhausted, it can be difficult to snap out of a fog of irritability and control your emotions throughout the day. This can manifest as anger outbursts, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed. This can eventually lead to strained relationships, especially at home with your partner and household.
Sleep disorders can persist or be short-lived, but even if it only lasts for 4 days at a time, it can severely disrupt your life. If you struggle with any combination of these symptoms, we highly recommend reaching out to your doctor for help. They can prescribe treatment options depending on your specific disorder, lifestyle, and goals.