Feeling Tired Even After Sleeping
If you always feel tired, even after a full night's sleep, it is likely that you have a sleep disorder. At least 40 million Americans each year suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. Doctors have described more than 70 sleep disorders, most of which can be managed effectively once they are correctly diagnosed. The most common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy.
Symptoms of Insomnia include:
- Lying awake in bed at night unable to fall asleep.
- Constantly waking up at night more than a few times.
- Feeling completely unrefreshed even after a long nights sleep.
- You wake up too early in the morning.
Almost everyone occasionally suffers from short-term insomnia. This problem can result from stress, jet lag, diet, or many other factors. Insomnia almost always affects job performance and well-being the next day. It is often the major disabling symptom of an underlying medical disorder.
While there is no medical cause for insomnia, it is mostly caused through continuously establishing bad sleeping habits. One might have a bad day one night which could throw off their sleeping schedule for months or even years. This is what is known as chronic insomnia.
The cause for acute insomnia tend to be mostly related to anxiety and depression. Anxiety plays a role when you are trying to fall asleep at night but you lay in your bed and are unable to fall asleep. Your anxiety will kick in and your mind will go crazy thinking about how your day is going to be bad because you are up this late in the morning.
Depression plays a part in insomnia because it releases chemicals throughout your body which can conflict with chemicals released during the sleeping process. This can cause someone to wake up multiple times at night which negatively effects your quality of sleep.
For short-term insomnia, doctors may prescribe sleeping pills. Most sleeping pills stop working after several weeks of nightly use, however, and long-term use can actually interfere with good sleep. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured through proper sleep management techniques. For more serious cases of insomnia, researchers are experimenting with light therapy and other ways to alter circadian cycles.
Sleep apnea is a disorder of interrupted breathing during sleep. It usually occurs in association with fat buildup or loss of muscle tone with aging. These changes allow the windpipe to collapse during breathing when muscles relax during sleep. This problem, called obstructive sleep apnea, is usually associated with loud snoring (though not everyone who snores has this disorder). Sleep apnea also can occur if the neurons that control breathing malfunction during sleep.
The frequent awakenings that sleep apnea patients experience leave them continually sleepy and may lead to personality changes such as irritability or depression. Sleep apnea also deprives the person of oxygen, which can lead to morning headaches, a loss of interest in sex, or a decline in mental functioning. It also is linked to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Patients with the typical features of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring, obesity, and excessive daytime sleepiness, should be referred to a specialized sleep center that can perform a test called polysomnography. This test records the patient's brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing during an entire night. If sleep apnea is diagnosed, several treatments are available. Mild sleep apnea frequently can be overcome through weight loss or by preventing the person from sleeping on his or her back. Other people may need special devices or surgery to correct the obstruction. People with sleep apnea should never take sedatives or sleeping pills, which can prevent them from awakening enough to breathe.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), a familial disorder causing unpleasant crawling, prickling, or tingling sensations in the legs and feet and an urge to move them for relief, is emerging as one of the most common sleep disorders, especially among older people. This disorder, which affects as many as 12 million Americans, leads to constant leg movement during the day and insomnia at night. In some cases, it may be linked to other conditions such as anemia, pregnancy, or diabetes.
Many RLS patients also have a disorder known as periodic limb movement disorder or PLMD, which causes repetitive jerking movements of the limbs, especially the legs. These movements occur every 20 to 40 seconds and cause repeated awakening and severely fragmented sleep.
RLS and PLMD often can be relieved by drugs that affect the neurotransmitter dopamine, suggesting that dopamine abnormalities underlie these disorders' symptoms. Learning how these disorders occur may lead to better therapies in the future.
Narcolepsy affects an estimated 250,000 Americans. People with narcolepsy have frequent "sleep attacks" at various times of the day, even if they have had a normal amount of night-time sleep. These attacks last from several seconds to more than 30 minutes. People with narcolepsy also may experience cataplexy (loss of muscle control during emotional situations), hallucinations, temporary paralysis when they awaken, and disrupted night-time sleep. These symptoms seem to be features of REM sleep that appear during waking, which suggests that narcolepsy is a disorder of sleep regulation. The disorder (or at least a predisposition to it) is usually hereditary, but it occasionally is linked to brain damage from a head injury or neurological disease.
Once narcolepsy is diagnosed, stimulants, antidepressants, or other drugs can help control the symptoms and prevent the embarrassing and dangerous effects of falling asleep at improper times. Naps at certain times of the day also may reduce the excessive daytime sleepiness.
If you are experiencing problems with sleeping, Dr. Roger Mazlen can help diagnose your condition and provide you with effective treatment. Call him at 516-869-0717 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.