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Common Sleep Issues & What to do About Them


Good quality sleep is a key foundation of any healthy lifestyle, but it doesn't come easy to all of us. For many, getting in to bed at the end of the day is just the beginning of a battle to drift off. There are many common sleep-related conditions which can not only hinder our night-time rest, but our daily lives too. 


Here's our guide to the most common sleep issues and how to beat them: 


Insomnia

​Insomnia is described as difficulty with getting to sleep or staying asleep, even when the opportunity to sleep is presented. The effects of this translate into a range of symptoms, including: Fatigue, inability to concentrate and mood-swings, all of which may significantly affect the individual’s performance at work or school.Insomnia can be caused by many different factors, both medical and lifestyle related. Pregnancy and the Menopause are common causes of insomnia in women, while age and certain medications can also bring on insomnia. Lifestyle factors which can be causes include: Stress, caffeine consumption, poor sleeping habits and irregular work schedules.


For mild to moderate cases of insomnia, the best way to treat the condition is to work on forming good sleep habits. This can include:

  • Sticking to a tight routine, keeping your bedtime and wake-up time consistent day after day.

  • Exercising regularly, this will encourage a good night’s rest.

  • Trying to avoid sleeping during the day.

  • Limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol, especially in the afternoon and evening.

  • Avoiding eating large meals late in the evening.  

  • Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath or reading and avoiding screen-time late in the evening.

Further options include relaxation training and cognitive behavioural therapy.However, in more severe cases of insomnia, it may be necessary to discuss medical solutions with your doctor. The treatment that’s best for you will be dependent on individual health factors and also the symptoms you are experiencing. Therefore it’s important to have a consult with a doctor before taking any sleep aids.Common insomnia medications include benzodiazepine hypnotics, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and melatonin receptor agonists.


Snoring

Snoring is extremely common and something we have all experienced at some time, whether you yourself snore or you have had the misfortune of sleeping near someone else who does. The sensation occurs when air cannot move freely through the nose and throat during the night. This results in the vibrating of the tissue within and the ensuing unmistakable sound.Snoring can have many different causes, but the most common are:


  • Lifestyle factors: Obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption

  • Nasal / Sinus Problems

  • Age: The passages in the nose and throat become narrower as we get older.

  • Medication: Certain medications have been found to increase snoring as a side-effect because they increase muscle relaxation.

Whilst snoring is extremely common, if your snoring is keeping you awake and impacting your life during the day, then you should certainly seek treatment. In this case, understanding the causes of your snoring is key because they will determine the next steps you should take.​


If your snoring is a result of lifestyle factors, then it is possible that you might be able to significantly reduce the effects through increasing exercise, eating healthily and cutting out smoking and excessive drinking.However, if nasal and sinus problems are the problem, and your snoring is impacting your daily life, then you should seek the advice of your doctor. They will be able to prescribe medication or refer you to an ‘Ear, Nose & Throat’ specialist in order to address not only your snoring, but the underlying causes.For almost all causes of snoring, adjusting your sleeping position and not eating immediately before you sleep can also be effective in reducing the disruption snoring causes to your sleep.


Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition whereby the airways become blocked during sleep. This blockage, or partial blockage causes breathing difficulties for short bursts of time and this causes sleeplessness and wakefulness during the night and therefore tiredness during the day. If left untreated, sleep apnea can ultimately raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.If you are experiencing mild sleep apnea, or simply want to reduce your risk of developing it, lifestyle changes should be the first priority. Studies have suggested that obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are all significant risk factors for the condition and so the first-step towards treating sleep apnea should be evaluating your lifestyle against these factors and making changes as necessary.


The next step is to arrange a consultation with your doctor. There are several safe and effective treatment options which are commonly prescribed to sleep apnea patients. These can include Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and other devices to use at night to keep the airway open. In extreme cases, surgery may be required and there are also several relatively safe and effective procedures which could be considered here.

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