I seem to be sleepy at times I’m supposed to be awake. Why?
Do you find yourself dozing off at work or school - or worse, behind the wheel at traffic lights? Is it especially difficult to get up and get going in the morning, but still hard to fall asleep at bedtime?
Many of us, it seems, are running on fewer than the recommended daily hours of sleep. Lack of proper sleep can have serious consequences to your lifestyle and your health. Are you experiencing any of these effects of disrupted sleep?
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Mood swings
- Memory difficulties
- Relationship stress
In severe cases, sleep disorders can result in medical problems, even injury to yourself or others:
- Increased chance of car accidents
- Higher incidence of workplace injury
- Risk of stroke or heart attack
There are many possible reasons for disrupted sleep, ranging from alcohol consumption to diabetes to underactive thyroid, to snoring caused by nasal obstruction. If snoring is yours, it's important to assess how severely obstructed you may be. At the extreme end of the range is sleep apnea, a serious medical condition that can contribute to stroke, among other not-to-be-taken-lightly consequences. At the other end of the spectrum are people whose snoring is behind their daytime sluggishness and memory problems. It can be so subtle for some that they may not even realize they snore. Still, the effects of repeatedly waking, and of sleeping less than is healthy, can be quite serious. So, check with your sleeping partner (who will DEFINITELY know if you snore).
What to do about snoring-disrupted sleep
See a doctor if you're experiencing daytime consequences related to lack of sleep. After assessing your physical condition, and medical history, the doctor might recommend a sleep study to observe and record what happens when you sleep.
If the problem is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a variety of solutions are available, from simply losing weight and changing sleeping position, to surgery. If you have a snoring problem that's less dangerous but still disruptive, the range of solutions is even broader. Your doctor might recommend something as simple as a change in pillows and some lifestyle adjustments such as turning down the lights and turning off your phone for a period before you go to bed. Simple remedies and procedures can be applied to help open up your nasal passages and improve your breathing while asleep. These range from adhesive nasal strips to remodeling of the nasal valve to widen the airways.
If you have trouble with daytime sleepiness or other effects of disrupted sleep, it's important to seek help before the situation gets worse. It's best to discuss your concerns with a doctor, and take steps to eliminate the causes.