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The vast majority of us experience troubles sleeping at one point or another, and we all know how washed out a bad night’s sleep makes us feel the next day. Often, there is a root cause such as stress, illness or what we have consumed during the day. Make a couple of adjustments and you can usually solve the problem. However, if you suffer from a regular sleep disorder, this can be seriously detrimental to your mental and physical well-being.  

The frustrating thing about many sleep disorder is that no matter how tired you feel, you simply can’t seem to drift off. This has a serious effect on everything from your mood to your energy levels, as well as increasing your chances of weight gain, accidents and suffering memory lapses. 

If you have a sleep disorder, the first thing to do is identify it, tracking your symptoms and sleeping patterns. Afterwards, you can begin treating it yourself by adjusting your daytime habits and bedtime routine. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to turn to sleep specialists to help with the issue.

In this blog post, we are going to aim to give you a helping hand by running through a few of the most common sleeping disorders and some possible solutions. Hopefully, this article will send you to sleep!

Insomnia Right at the top of the list of most common sleep disorders is insomnia. If you regularly have an inability to drift off to sleep at night or you have a lot of difficulty sleeping through the night, it is highly likely that you are suffering from this particular condition. The root causes are various including stress, a health condition or even the amount of coffee that you drink during the day. It can also be a knock-on effect from other sleep disorders or a result of a mental health issue like anxiety or depression.

The first thing that you can do in an attempt to tackle insomnia is improve your sleep hygiene. There are a number of factors involved in this including reducing the length of daytime naps, cutting back on alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, exercising regularly, and keeping clear of heavy or rich foods. Next up, you can improve your sleeping environment, possibly by investing in a new mattress – take a look at for some more information. You could also change your bedding, and take steps to make the room darker and quieter. A lot of cases of insomnia can be solved all by yourself.

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Sleep Apnea Another common disorder that affects many of us is sleep apnea, which can be a very scary experience for sufferers. Essentially, your breathing stops temporarily while you are sleeping which awakens you frequently during the night. If you have this condition, you may not even remember the awakenings, but you are much more likely to feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed. One of the major warning signs is loud and chronic snoring almost every night.

The same sleep hygiene principles that we discussed in the insomnia section also apply here, but you can also do a few other things to tackle the problem. When you go to sleep at night, sleep on your back rather than your side. A trick that some people use to prevent themselves rolling onto their backs during the night is sewing a tennis ball into the back of their pyjama top. Another tip that you could put into practice is propping your head up using a foam wedge or cervical pillow. Sleep apnea can be a very serious condition, so you should consult with a doctor if it persists.

Restless Leg Syndrome If you find that you have an almost uncontrollable urge to move your arms and legs during the night, you are likely to be suffering from restless leg syndrome. This urge to move is usually caused by uncomfortable, tingly, aching, or creeping feelings from your body.

There are a number of iron and vitamin deficiencies which have been linked to this disorder including magnesium, vitamin D, and folic acid. You can also try out some physical exercises to combat the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Calf, hip and front thigh stretches have all proven to be effective, and you could also try taking up yoga to get a full-body workout. Sitting still can make RLS worse, so if you live a particularly sedentary lifestyle, you should make a habit of getting up and moving around on a regular basis.

Narcolepsy Narcolepsy is rarer than the other disorders that we have already discussed, but it can be a very difficult condition to deal with if you are a sufferer. Essentially, it is caused by a dysfunction of the brain mechanism that regulates sleeping and waking. As yet, there is still no direct cure for this uncontrollable daytime sleepiness, but there are some lifestyle adjustments that you can put into practice. Many sufferers find that scheduling in some power naps during the day can make a big difference, as well as improving exercise, diet, and how you manage stress.

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Shift Work Sleep Disorder If you are someone who has to work different shift patterns, this can be enormously disruptive to your sleep-wake cycle. Some people can adjust better than others to the demands of shift work, but most get less quality sleep than people who work regular hours. This long-term sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your overall physical and mental wellbeing.

There are a few ways that you can reduce the impact of shift work on your sleep. First of all, you should aim to take regular breaks and minimise regular shift changes where possible. You can help your body get back into a better sleep-wake cycle by increasing light exposure at work and limiting it when you get home again. TV and computer screens don’t help when you are trying to get to sleep, and you should also use blackout blinds or heavy curtains to block out natural light.

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder This particular condition occurs when your biological clock is significantly delayed, meaning that you go to sleep and wake up much later than most other people. The knock-on effect is that doing anything in the morning or keeping a regular 9 to 5 job ends up being extremely difficult. This tends to be common in teenagers and young people, and it is something that a lot of people grow out of naturally.

If you have suffered from this condition for a prolonged period of time, you can undergo some treatments like light therapy and chronotherapy which have proven to be effective for some people.

Jet Lag If you have ever been on a long-haul flight and arrived in a different timezone, it is very likely that you have suffered from jet lag. For most people, this wears off after one or two days, but for others, it can be a much longer and more frustrating condition. The most common symptoms are daytime sleepiness, fatigue, headache, stomach problems, and insomnia, and this tends to be worse flying east rather than west.

One way that you can reduce the impacts if you are going west to east is by going to bed half an hour earlier each night in the days leading up to your journey to make it easier to adjust when you arrive in your new time zone. You should be aiming to get your body used to the new time zone at the earliest possible opportunity, so don’t go to bed until a reasonable hour (local time, obviously). Expose yourself to plenty of natural light during the first day or two to help your body adjust. Drink plenty of fluids but try to avoid caffeine and alcohol which are generally disruptive substances.

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This Advice will Send You to Sleep To finish things off, we will just talk about some general advice that you can follow to help improve your sleep. First of all, you should aim to improve your habits during the day. This means sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, getting exercise on a regular basis, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and taking steps to manage the stress in your life.

Create a bedtime routine that works for you. Start by making sure that the bedroom is quiet, dark and cool which are the three things that your body needs for a good night’s sleep. Cut back on heavy meals and fluids late at night. Take a nice relaxing bath while listening to some soothing music. Remove all screens from the bedroom and avoid watching TV an hour before bed.

If you have tried everything else to no avail, the time may have come to speak directly to a sleep specialist or visit a sleep clinic. They should monitor things like sleep patterns, brain waves, heart rate, and rapid eye movements. Once they have all this information, hopefully, they should devise a treatment program that works for you.        

Mitch Carvalho

A full-time home-based Marketing Manager by day, 24/7 Mom, and a Blogger at any time. I’m 43 and proud. Mom of Derelle & Erchelle, sharing my adventures as I walk through motherhood and having to do most things on my own while my Indian national husband works miles away from home.