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Signs & Symptoms

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Signs and symptoms of sleep disorders and sleeping problems

Everyone experiences occasional sleeping problems, but how can you tell whether your sleeping problem is just a minor, passing annoyance or a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or underlying medical condition?

Start by scrutinizing your symptoms, looking especially for the telltale daytime signs of sleep deprivation. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder.

Is it a sleep disorder?

Do you...

  • feel irritable or sleepy during the day?
  • have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading?
  • fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
  • have difficulty concentrating?
  • often get told by others that you look tired?
  • react slowly?
  • have trouble controlling your emotions?
  • feel like you have to take a nap almost every day?
  • require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going?

If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions, you may have a sleep disorder.

Insomnia: The most common type of sleep disorder

Insomnia, the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed, is the most common sleep complaint. Insomnia is often a symptom of another problem, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or an underlying health condition. It can also be caused by lifestyle choices, including the medications you take, lack of exercise, jet lag, or even the amount of coffee you drink.

Common signs and symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night or getting back to sleep after waking during the night
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Your sleep feels light, fragmented, or exhausting
  • You need to take something (sleeping pills, nightcap, supplements) in order to get  to sleep
  • Sleepiness and low energy during the day

Whatever the cause of your insomnia, being mindful of your sleep habits and learning to relax will help you sleep better and feel better. The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be cured with lifestyle changes you can make on your own—without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills.