You understand Why Getting Enough Sleep Really Does Matter. You’ve read our blog post on What You Can Do to Get a Better Night’s Sleep. But, you still can’t sleep. It’s time to come in for a visit with the doctors at Duke Health.
Lots of people are afraid to talk to us, for fear that we’ll diagnose them with a problem. But, especially with sleep issues, there are lots of ways we can help. Not only will you have a better quality of life, getting a good night sleep can actually prevent a lot of other health problems.
When to See a Doctor for Sleep Problems
Everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes. How do you know when you need professional help? Here are some indications:
- You regularly have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.
- You are tired during the day even when you’ve slept for at least seven hours.
- You have trouble concentrating or remembering things during the day.
- You have trouble with motor control during the day and/or you have a lot of accidents.
- You get sleepy when driving.
- You have trouble staying awake while reading or watching TV.
- You take naps almost every day.
- Your partner or spouse complains that you snore.
- People consistently tell you that you look tired.
Your Medications Can Affect Your Sleep
Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications and herbal supplements can affect your sleep. Cold medicines and decongestants with pseudoephedrine may keep you awake. Appetite suppressants often include high dosages of caffeine and other stimulants. Rosemary, mint, ginseng, and cinnamon can impair your sleep. For some people, Vitamin D affects sleep. Your doctor will be able to help you assess your OTC medications. Be honest about what you take.
Some prescription medications can affect sleep, too. Some anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, psycho-stimulants, steroids, and blood pressure medications can affect your sleep. DO NOT stop taking your medications. But, DO talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosages or trying different medications.
Dealing With Untreated Medical Issues
Do you have back pain or restless leg syndrome? These issues can really interfere with your sleep. Exercise, massage, and medication may help you sleep better.
Heartburn and gastric reflux can make sleeping uncomfortable. Your doctor can help you find ways to deal with these issues so that you get a good night sleep.
Thyroid issues can make it hard to sleep. A simple blood test can tell if your thyroid levels are too high or too low. Treatments for low thyroid levels are simple, effective, and inexpensive. If you have already been diagnosed with a thyroid issue, it may be time to have your TSH levels checked.
Not surprisingly, anxiety, stress, and worry can make it harder to sleep. What most people don’t know is that depression can also affect your sleep. Breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga may provide relief; or, you and your doctor may want to explore one of the many medications that help with sleep.
If you’re a woman over 40, you may be experiencing menopause. Hot flashes can make you miserable during the day and seriously disrupt your sleep. But, even just the hormone imbalances can cause insomnia. Your doctor can help you to figure out if this is a problem for you. You don’t necessarily have to go on hormone replacement therapy, either. There are lots of supplements and dietary changes that can help. Your doctor can help you figure out the best solution for you.
Ruling Out a Sleep Disorder
Your doctor at Duke Health may want you to take a sleep study to rule out a sleep disorder. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting 14% of all Americans; it’s more common in women, especially older women. You may have insomnia if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Sleep disorders are also very common in people who do shift work. Treatments include behavioral therapy, managing your sleep habits, and medication.
You may have heard of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea disrupts your breathing while you sleep. It won’t usually wake you up, but it will interfere with the quality of your sleep. Most people don’t know they have it and it’s actually more common than you think. Some studies have suggested as many as 24% of men and 9% of women have sleep apnea. Don’t be afraid of CPAP machines if you think this may be a problem for you. There are lots of new treatments you can explore with your doctor if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Your health is important to us at Duke Health. We want you to have a happy, healthy life. Come talk to us about your sleep, or anything else that concerns you!
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