Who’s at Risk
If you often feel very tired during the day even though you spent enough time in bed to be well rested talk to your doctor. This is a common sign of a sleep disorder. A number of sleep disorders can disrupt your sleep, leaving you sleepy during the day.
Other common signs of sleep disorders include the following.
- It takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night.
- You awaken often during the night and then have trouble falling back to sleep, or you awaken too early in the morning.
- You feel sleepy during the day and fall asleep within 5 minutes if you have an opportunity to nap, or you fall asleep at inappropriate times during the day.
- Your bed partner claims you snore loudly, snort, gasp, or make choking sounds while you sleep, or your partner notices your breathing stops for short periods.
- You have creeping, tingling, or crawling feelings in your legs that are relieved by moving or massaging them, especially in the evening and when you try to fall asleep.
- You have vivid, dreamlike experiences while falling asleep or dozing.
- You have episodes of sudden muscle weakness when you're angry, fearful, or when you laugh.
- You feel as though you can't move when you first wake up.
- Your bed partner notes that your legs or arms jerk often during sleep.
- You regularly feel the need to use stimulants to stay awake during the day.
Describe your signs and symptoms to your doctor. It's important to note how tired you feel and whether your signs and symptoms affect your daily routine. Early signs of sleep disorders aren't easy to detect during routine visits. There are no blood tests for sleep disorders, and the doctor isn't watching you sleep.
If you've had a sleep disorder for a long time, it may be hard for you to notice its impact on your daily routine. Using a sleep diary, such as the one found in "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep," may be helpful.
Your doctor can decide whether you need a sleep study. A sleep study allows your doctor to observe sleep patterns and to diagnose a sleep disorder, which can then be treated.
Certain medical conditions have been linked to sleep disorders. These include heart failure, coronary artery disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, or "mini-stroke"). If you have one of these conditions, talk with your doctor about whether it would be helpful to have a sleep study.
Who Is At Risk for Sleep Apnea?
It's estimated that more than 12 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea. More than half of the people who have this condition are overweight.
Sleep apnea is more common in men. One out of 25 middle-aged men and 1 out of 50 middle-aged women have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea becomes more common as you get older. At least 1 out of 10 people over the age of 65 has sleep apnea. Women are much more likely to develop sleep apnea after menopause.
African Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop sleep apnea than Caucasians.
If someone in your family has sleep apnea, you're more likely to develop it.
People who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths also are more likely to have sleep apnea. Smaller airways may be due to the shape of these structures or allergies or other medical conditions that cause congestion in these areas.
Small children often have enlarged tonsil tissues in the throat. This can make them prone to developing sleep apnea.
Other risk factors for sleep apnea include smoking, high blood pressure, and risk factors for stroke or heart failure.