Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? When we’re tucked up warm and cosy between the sheets, morning often comes far too soon. However, surveys have shown that many of us struggle with our sleep, either experiencing disrupted sleep or not quite managing enough hours each night. There are numerous contributors to a poor night’s sleep, including sleep disorders, which is what we’re looking at in this article.
Try To Avoid Over-Diagnosis
Many of us experience sleep difficulties on occasion, either with trouble falling to sleep or feeling like you haven’t had enough, leaving you tired throughout the next day. It is normal to occasionally have these troubles, with stress, diet, exercise, illness and travel all being contributors to whether you achieve your ideal seven hours.
If this happens a couple of nights in a row, it’s too easy to head on to Google and be immediately presented with different diagnoses; however, it could be something much more straightforward. Some of the more common reasons for trouble getting to sleep include:
- Poor sleeping environment – temperature, noise lighting etc.
- Uncomfortable or noisy bed
- Lack of regular daily exercise
- Too much caffeine, especially before bed
- Too much food or alcohol late at night
- Using devices with screens immediately before bed
If you’ve already looked to remedy these issues, then it’s possible that there is something deeper rooted causing your sleep problems.
What Are Sleep Disorders?
Sleep disorders can often be the root cause for regular troubled sleep. It’s important to remember that frequency is as significant as severity here, as we mentioned earlier, many people struggle with sleep, but often not as frequently.
There are a number of sleep disorders, and they are becoming more commonly known with both medicinal and at-home cure techniques continuing to develop. Here, we take a look at the most common sleep disorders.
N.B: If you are having any sleep troubles which are having an effect on your wellbeing, it is advised to speak to a health professional.
One of the most widely known and most common sleep disorders, insomnia is the inability to get to sleep or have a prolonged period of rest at night. There are countless causes for insomnia which include:
- Jet lag
- A health condition or illness
- Medicines you’re currently taking
- Caffeine intake
- Factors mentioned in the list above will also contribute
Insomnia could also be a by-product of an underlying mood disorder such as depression or anxiety. Severe cases of insomnia may call for specialist consultation; however, there are a lot of techniques which can be exercised at home to help improve your likelihood of securing your seven to nine hours a night. You should:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
- Relax for at least an hour before bed, such as listening to calming music, meditate, read a book or take a bath
- Ensure you have a pleasant sleep environment. A dark bedroom away from noise and of the right temperature
- Exercise during the day
- Ensure your bed sheets and pillows are comfortable
For more severe cases, it may be suggested you visit a therapist for cognitive behavioural therapy. This will help to understand and change your thoughts and behaviours towards sleep. If you are thinking of using sleeping pills, these should be used as a last resort and only if you have tried all other methods.
Sleep apnoea, unlike insomnia, is a disorder which occurs during sleep. It is characterised by the stopping and starting of your breathing while you sleep, potentially causing gasping, snorting or choking noises. You may also wake up a lot during the night and/or experience loud snoring.
This can be just as frustrating as insomnia, as sufferers will feel very tired during the day, may find it hard to concentrate, experience mood swings and have headaches when waking up.
Sleep apnoea is hard to self-diagnose, and you may only notice the frequent waking up; therefore, we’d suggest checking with people you live with if they have noticed any of these symptoms.
Unlike insomnia, sleep apnoea will likely require a visit to the GP, especially if the symptoms are severe or persistent. Remedies may include using a CPAP machine, which pumps air into a mask you wear over your face while you sleep.
There are also some devices that represent gum shields designed to ensure your airways stay open when you’re asleep, to minimise the likelihood of your breathing stopping during the night.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome is an altogether different disorder which is part mental, part physical. The primary symptom of restless legs syndrome is an overwhelming need to move your legs. Additionally, sufferers may also experience an unpleasant creeping or crawling sensation on their legs and feet.
Generally, with restless legs syndrome, the condition worsens into the evening and at night. This condition is also associated with PLMS, known as periodic limb movement during sleep.
For restless legs syndrome, there is no one size fits all approach, as each case is unique to the individual. In some instances, the symptoms are mild; however, in more severe cases, the person’s whole sleep pattern and daily life can be affected.
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