Lifestyle Nervous system

5 Signs You Might Have a Sleep Disorder

An undiagnosed sleep disorder can wreak havoc on your life. It can impact your job or school performance, relationships, and overall health.

5 Signs You Might Have a Sleep Disorder
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Unfortunately, sleep disorders can be difficult to detect. While the diagnostic process is straightforward, determining that you need a sleep test is more challenging.

Here are five subtle signs that you may have a sleep disorder.

You Wake With a Sore Head and Throat

If you frequently wake up with a headache or sore throat, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Many people with sleep apnea snore loudly throughout the night or repeatedly gasp for breath. These repetitive behaviors can irritate the throat and introduce high levels of carbon dioxide to the brain, resulting in pain the next morning.

While sleep apnea treatment is multifaceted, one simple change you can make tonight is to sleep on your side. This position keeps the airway open and minimizes snoring. If you suspect you have it, schedule a sleep apnea test immediately. This condition puts significant stress on the heart.

Irregular Breathing and Heart Rate

Irregular breathing and an elevated heart rate during restful periods are other signs of apnea. If someone notices you stop breathing for brief periods while asleep, it’s time to schedule a test. Similarly, if you notice yourself waking up gasping for air, you likely have apnea or a similar disorder.

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Your Legs Tingle and Itch

If you notice an uncomfortable sensation in your legs at night, you may have an often-overlooked sleep disorder. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder that results in a tingling, pulling sensation in the legs exacerbated by lying down to rest. It leaves those affected with a strong urge to move their legs around to dispel the sensations.

RLS can be genetic or linked to other issues, like iron deficiency anemia, certain medications, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. If you suspect you have RLS, talk to a medical professional immediately to rule out underlying causes.

You Feel Tired All Day

One of the challenges with identifying a sleep disorder is that disruptions occur when the person isn’t fully awake. Someone with insomnia might not be consciously aware that they wake up throughout the night or forget about the experience in the morning. People with sleep paralysis or a circadian rhythm disorder might not remember the event.

If you feel tired all day after seemingly getting enough sleep, you might have a sleep disorder— especially if it’s a regular occurrence. While sleep trackers have a significant margin of error, they can highlight disruptive periods throughout the night.

Problems With Focus, Cognition, and Emotional Control

You may not notice your exhaustion if you’re used to feeling tired all the time. In addition to the general feeling of malaise, people with undiagnosed sleep disorders often struggle with focus, cognition, and emotional control.

For example, you may struggle with motivation to complete simple tasks or have difficulty processing and remembering information. You might also experience inappropriate emotional responses to stimuli, presenting as excess stress, anger, irritability, and sadness.

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Contact your healthcare provider if you notice any symptoms on this list. Sleep disorders can have long-term negative health effects and dramatically affect your quality of life.

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