What Your Sleep Problems Say About Your Health

We all know that sleep is vital to our overall health. But how many of us actually get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night? And if you do get enough sleep, was it quality, restful sleep?

 Whether it’s stress, a lack of time or a sleep disorder, there are a number of conditions that can impact your ability to sleep soundly. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep can impact your body in a number of surprising ways, from increased huger to irritability and everything in between. So, if you’re like millions of Americans who have nightly sleep struggles, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s keeping you up and what it could mean.

You have night sweats.

Don’t underestimate the power of temperature on your body’s ability to have a good night’s sleep. In fact, if you’re overheated while sleeping, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep may be reduced.

There are a wide number of factors that may cause overheating or night sweats, including: external sources (e.g., pajamas, comforter and room temperature), prescription medications, hyperthyroidism, cancer, hypoglycemia, infections and viruses, acid reflux and menopause. Take note of how frequently you experience night sweats; if it becomes a chronic condition, it’s important to talk with your doctor.

You’re a very early bird.  

The traditional phrase, early to bed, early to rise, may be more accurate than you thought. For some, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders may be the underlying cause behind abnormal sleep hours.

For example, the advanced sleep-wake phase disorder causes individuals to fall asleep several hours before standard bedtimes, leading to an extra early wake-up time. If you’re interested in adjusting your internal sleep clock, it is best to work with your doctor.

You wake-up feeling tired.

Then you’re likely one of nearly 70 million adults who struggle with some type of sleep disorder. Some of the most sleep disorders include: sleep apnea, insomnia, bruxism (teeth grinding) and night terrors.

Many of these conditions, like sleep apnea, can cause subtle symptoms that you may not even be aware of. As a result, many sleep disorders go undiagnosed causing long-term sleep deprivation. So, if you wake up tired every morning no matter how much you sleep, it’s time to see your doctor.

You need technology to sleep.

If you feel like watching TV or looking at your phone is a must to fall asleep, it’s likely that you’re trying to escape from stress. Of course, it’s important to have a nightly ritual to unwind and relax before bed, but some habits may actually have an adverse effect.

In fact, the glowing screens of your TV and phone can mess with your body’s natural sleep cycle. Instead of reaching for the remote before bed, instead try other relaxation techniques, like reading, journaling or meditating.

You toss and turn throughout the night.

It’s not uncommon to readjust throughout the night, but if this moving around is keeping you awake, it may indicate an underlying condition like restless leg syndrome or hyperthyroidism.

Restless leg syndrome is known for causing a creepy, crawly sensation in the legs. For some, it may just cause a desire to keep moving the legs around to find a comfortable position. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can cause nervousness and a rapid heart rate, making you feel restless.

If you consistently have difficulty sleeping and you suspect an underlying medical condition could be to blame, your doctor can help.

You have to get up to pee.

While this may be a common problem for many adults, it can disrupt sound sleep and leave you feeling tired night after night. Interestingly enough, there are many possible causes behind your nighttime bathroom break, including: drinking too much before bed, especially alcohol or caffeine, certain medications, urinary tract infection and even chronic conditions (e.g., high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes…etc.).

The good news is, whatever is causing your nightly urge to pee, there are many possible treatment options. By talking with your doctor, you can uncover the possible cause.

You need help to actually sleep better.

Whatever it is that’s keeping you up at night, your primary care doctor can help. As the provider that knows your unique medical needs best, your primary care doctor can provide a customized treatment plan that will have you sleeping soundly sooner. The experienced primary care specialists of Gwinnett Medical Group primary care are dedicated to helping you and your family feel healthy and stay healthy. 


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