We all struggle with sleep from time to time.  You might spend a night tossing and turning after a big fight with your wife or find yourself waking up again and again because you are stressed about work.  It isn’t uncommon for people to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once in awhile.  But how do you know when your sleep struggles cross the line from “it happens to everyone” to “it’s time to see the doctor?”  While each sleep disorder has its own specific symptoms, there are some general signs that can alert you that what you have been calling insomnia is really a sleep disorder.

Here are 5 signs that you might have a sleep disorder.


1.     You Wake Up Tired

You went to bed on-time, think you slept the whole night through, and when you wake up after 8 solid hours, it feels like you barely slept at all.  If you are waking up groggy and feeling like you need 8 more hours of sleep, there may be something keeping you from getting the deep restful sleep your body needs.  Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can impact the quality and quantity sleep you are getting without you noticing.


2.     You Can’t Fall Asleep

If you find that you are tossing and turning, turning the TV on and off, reading a book, or just staring at the ceiling for hours because you just can’t fall asleep, you might be suffering from insomnia.  Insomnia is both a sleep disorder in its own right and a common symptom of other sleep disorders.  Don’t think that because it is just insomnia that you don’t need to discuss it with your doctor.  There may be some other condition contributing to your inability to sleep.


3.     You Snore

Most people know by now that snoring can be a sign that you have sleep apnea.  While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, the dangers of untreated sleep apnea are significant enough that anyone who snores should speak to their doctor about their sleep habits and make sure they do not have sleep apnea.


4.     You Can’t Stay Awake During the Day

Daytime sleepiness is a symptom of several sleep disorders including sleep apnea and narcolepsy.  It can also happen when a sleep disorder is keeping you from getting the sleep you need at night.  If you find yourself struggling to stay awake at work or in school, while driving or even while relaxing at home, you should get checked for a sleep disorder.


5.     You Can’t Focus, Concentrate, or Pay Attention

Sleep is a critical component in our ability to function cognitively.  When we don’t get enough sleep, our brains just don’t work as well as they do when we get the sleep we need.   Studies have shown that our coordination, reaction time, problem solving skills, and attention span all suffer when we are sleep deprived.  If it seems as if you are getting all the sleep you need at night but struggling to concentrate and pay attention during the day, you may have a sleep disorder that is keeping you from getting the sleep you need.


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