If you’re suffering from an inability to sleep for long stretches through the night, naturally you begin to suspect that you’re suffering from a sleep disorder. But there are a number of other signs that can also point to a sleep disorder, some of them more elusive than others.
Whether it’s routine headaches or difficulty focusing during the workday, a sleep disorder can manifest itself in a number of surprising ways. Take some time to review this list and see if you can identify signs that your sleep behavior needs some examination.
As you wake up, parts of your brain also become more active and responsive to changes in your body position, touch and sound. As a result, you’re more sensitive to external stimuli when you wake up.
In addition, the region of the brain known as the hypothalamus regulates your natural circadian rhythms and sleep during the night. If the hypothalamus is disrupted during the night, it can impact your ability to tolerate pain while you sleep; as a result, while you may not have felt pain overnight, you may feel it more intensely in the morning in the form of regular headaches.
This is fairly simple and straightforward: if you don’t get enough sleep overnight, you’ll likely suffer from hypersomnia, or persistent daytime sleepiness. However, this drowsiness can be particularly pronounced in people who suffer from a chronic sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. If the sleep deprivation has been severe and has occurred with enough regularity, the brain has to catch up somehow. This can take the form of small gaps of time – seconds here and there – where the person falls asleep without realizing it while engaged in a relatively routine activity.
The results of this can be serious. People with excessive daytime drowsiness are at greater risk of motor vehicle accidents and work-related safety incidents, and have poorer health than other adults of the same age, gender and overall body type.
Many individuals suffering from a sleep disorder end up breathing mostly through their mouths during the night. As a result, they find themselves waking up frequently during the night needing a drink of water, or because they feel they can’t breathe because their mouth has dried out. This can lead to secondary effects as well, particularly in terms of dental hygiene. Many individuals end up with bad breath throughout the day. In addition, saliva helps to reduce the levels of acid and bacteria in the mouth, meaning dry mouth can result in increased tooth decay and gum disease down the road.
It has long been known that there is a link between sleep deprivation and overall mood. Researchers may know part of the reason why. One deep region of the brain known as the amygdala is believed to play a key role in the regulation of emotions and anxiety levels. A recent study showed that individuals who had experienced severe sleep deprivation had a more active amygdala-driven response than individuals who had gotten restful sleep. In addition, portions of the brain that help to regulate the amygdala also appeared to be weaker. In short, people who experience sleep deprivation may have increased difficulty controlling their emotions.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common occurrence while sleeping. It generally takes place in the early, pre-REM stages of sleep, and can occur across several cycles. Bruxism can easily disrupt sleep patterns by delaying REM sleep, or causing you to awake before beginning your deep sleep cycle.
Sleep deprivation has a number of side effects that can dramatically raise your chances of developing diabetes:
While it’s not entirely clear which is the symptom and the cause, there is a high correlation between sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter remains open and stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.
Insufficient sleep syndrome is the inability to get the required amount of sleep. This is one of the long-term dangers associated with a chronic sleep disorder: live with sleep deprivation for long enough, and eventually you could lose the ability to get the right amount of sleep even if the disorder is resolved.
It’s long been known that sleep deprivation is closely correlated with reduced cognitive function. This presents a few different ways:
Sleep disorders can lead to other challenges in the bedroom. Sleep deprivation has been linked with reduced sexual desire and arousal in women, and also to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.
If you’re concerned that you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, contact Dr. Krish today to learn about getting a sleep test.