You toss and turn. You count sheep. You read a book. You even get on your phone, even though you know the light of the smartphone screen can just make it harder to go to sleep. But you still can’t rest. Or maybe you can sleep, but you keep snoring and gasping, which is discomfiting to the spouse who has to sleep next to you. And then you’re tired and cranky the next day, though you could swear you were asleep for seven or eight hours. You shouldn’t feel this exhausted, and you can’t figure out why.
Whether it’s due to insomnia or a sleep disorder, a lack of proper rest can really wreak havoc on your life. That’s because sleep issues always end up impacting you during the daytime as well. It’s inevitable. A lack of proper rest can affect your performance at work or in school, since it’s hard to get those reports done when you keep nodding off at your desk. It can affect your personal relationships, since nothing puts a damper on a romantic night out quite like the inability to keep your eyes open during a candlelit dinner. It’s common to hope that you won’t have to do anything to address the issues. For most of us, “hoping it goes away on its own” is our number one way of dealing with something unpleasant. But there’s a point when you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do something.
Finding a sleep study
Talk to your physician about your issues. There’s a good chance he or she will want you to see a specialist in the field of sleep medicine. A sleep study can be conducted in a laboratory or at your home. Many doctors prefer home sleep studies because they’re cheaper and more convenient for the patient. Once the study is complete, the doctor will go over results with you and recommend further action. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you may need to start using a CPAP machine to keep your airways working properly when you sleep. It’s not the only solution (there’s something called a BiPAP machine that works similarly), but it’s a very common treatment for sleep apnea. It may feel awkward and unwieldy to use a mask when you sleep, but it shouldn’t be long before there’s a noticeable difference in your sleep patterns.
Insomnia and underlying issues
CPAP machines are designed to treat an issue that occurs when you’re already asleep. But what do you do when it seems almost impossible for you to get to sleep at a decent hour? Behavioral issues could be contributing to your insomnia. It’s a good idea to swear off caffeine in the afternoon. It’s an even better idea to keep your phone as far away from your bed as possible at night. Sure, you think you’re only going to take a quick look at your emails, but that can snowball quickly. A doctor may advise you to try certain breathing exercise and muscle relaxation techniques. Over-the-counter medications may help, but they can also become less effective with time.
Don’t rule out any underlying conditions as well. Insomnia often strikes people with depression and anxiety issues. It’s hard to relax your body when your mind is racing. But if you treat the depression and anxiety, it’s quite possible the insomnia will resolve itself.