Sleep. We do it every night. It affects everything from how our body functions to our moods to our relationships. Good sleep habits can slow your body’s aging process, improve your heart health and provide stress relief. But just because you tuck into bed every night doesn’t mean you’re getting the sleep you need – or that you even know how much sleep you need to stay healthy.
We all have the occasional night of restlessness or sleep cut short, whether it’s from an overdue report, a sick child or stress within your family. But when your lack of shut-eye becomes a habit, it’s time to get medical advice.
1. You’re awake when everyone else is sleeping – Short-term insomnia is normal but struggling night after night for months on end is not. Studies show that many people with insomnia don’t seek help because they think it’s just the way they’re wired or that it will go away eventually. The truth is that your brain can learn bad sleep habits – and it can unlearn them too. A sleep doctor can help with suggestions to help improve your sleep habits, therapy or medication.
2. You need to sleep during the day – We all struggle with a mid-afternoon slump once in a while – but every day is not normal. If you find yourself nodding during routine activities, such as driving, it’s time to rethink your sleep schedule. The fix might be as easy as getting to bed earlier or installing black-out shades or buying a new mattress. But it might also mean it’s time make a doctor’s appointment.
3. You snore – Snoring isn’t always a problem – other than the fact that it keeps your partner awake. But snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a disorder that’s characterized by pauses in breathing. In extreme cases, sleep apnea can lead to early death. If you’re concerned you might have sleep apnea, these resources will help learn more:
4. You wake up tired – A typical sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes and alternates between light and deep (REM) sleep, allowing your body and mind to repair itself from the previous day. If you progress normally through the different stages of sleep, you should wake up well-rested and ready to take on the day. If you wake up consistently tired, there’s a good chance you’re missing the deep, healing stages of sleep.
5. You have other medical issues – Not being able to sleep can be a sign that something else is going on – a medical condition developing in the background. Insomnia, unfortunately, can also be a frustrating by-product of some medications. If you’re dealing with depression, chronic pain or restless leg syndrome getting a good night’s sleep will almost certainly be a challenge. If sleeplessness is affecting your daily activities, consult a sleep doctor.
Do know what’s normal and what signals a potentially serious sleep disorder? Take Dr. Oz’s Sleep Quiz and test your sleep intelligence so you can start sleeping better and enjoying life more!
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