Everyone has those nights when you find it hard to fall asleep or you wake up several times in the night. According to the National Sleep Foundation Guidelines, seven to nine hours of sleep per night is recommended for healthy adults. However, that is not always easy, especially if you regularly have problems sleeping due to a sleep disorder or other health problems. Read on to learn about the symptoms of lack of sleep, how your health can affect your sleep and some ways to get more rest:
Symptoms of lack of sleep
Amidst the busy, fast-paced ways of modern living, people forget that sleep is essential for their good health. Did you know that by staring at the blue light emitted from our technological devices, the production of melatonin (the hormone associated with controlling your sleep-wake cycle) is reduced? Lack of sleep can have huge implications in all areas of your life as being tired affects us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Insufficient sleep can directly affect how a person feels during their waking hours. Examples of these effects include:
- Slower thinking and response times
- Reduced attention span
- Worsened memory
- Poor or risky decision-making
- Lack of energy
- Mood changes including feelings of stress, anxiety, or irritability
- What could be the cause of your sleep deprivation?
1. Sleep disorders
What is the definition of a sleep disorder? The term sleep disorder refers to conditions that affect sleep quality, timing and/or duration and impact a person’s ability to function while they’re awake. These sleep disorders can lead to other health problems and may be symptoms for underlying mental health issues. Over 100 specific sleep disorders have been identified and most can be highlighted by one more of the following four signs:
- You have trouble falling or remaining asleep
- You find it difficult to stay awake during the day
- Imbalances in your circadian rhythm interfere with a healthy sleep pattern
- You are prone to unusual behaviours that disturb your sleep
2. Enlarged prostate
The prostate sits just underneath the bladder and, as it enlarges, it can block the flow of urine out of the bladder making it slower and intermittent when a man passes urine. Having an enlarged prostate can have other effects on the bladder, such as needing to urinate more and getting up frequently during the night which results in disturbed sleep for both you and your partner.
You may find that you’re having to rush to the toilet without much warning because the bladder is trying to empty even when it’s not completely full. Some patients reach the point where they can’t pass urine at all, so a catheter is needed.
3. Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause
Women experience a lack of sleep for many reasons, but most are associated with changes in hormone levels during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. This can affect the circadian rhythm and cause sleeplessness.
4. Sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a condition where your breathing stops and starts while you’re asleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Sleep apnoea has been linked to being overweight, nasal polyps, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. If you suffer from severe OSA you can have disturbed, broken sleep which can leave you feeling exhausted during the day.
Tips to help you sleep better
- Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
- Exercise during the day to reduce stress
- Sleep in a dark, quiet and cool environment, if possible
- Going to bed and getting up at around the same time each day
- Write a list of your worries to relax your mind before bed
Fast access to our Private GP Service
Getting fast access to a face-to-face private GP appointment at Benenden Hospital has never been easier. Book an appointment online or find out more about how we can help you with your health concerns by contacting us via Livechat, by completing our online form or by calling our Private Patient team on 01580 363158.
Published on 03 January 2023