Could You Have a Sleep Disorder?

Most people have trouble falling asleep at some point in their lives. But chronic sleep problems and ongoing daytime fatigue could point to a more serious sleep disorder. 

The first step in understanding the source of your sleep problems is to start a sleep journal. Every day, record how many hours you slept the night before, the quality of the sleep, and any other factors that could have affected your sleep, such as alcohol and caffeine consumption, exercise, and naps. Also record how you felt in the morning and throughout the day. 

After a few weeks, examine your sleep journal closely for any behavior patterns. The journal should reveal any habits that could be interfering with your sleep, and then you can make adjustments. If you improve your sleep hygiene and are still experiencing sleep problems, check your journal for the following warning signs and talk to your doctor.

Sleep Disorder Warning Signs:

  • Consistently taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep
  • Perpetual fatigue and irritability during the day, even after getting seven or eight hours of sleep a night
  • Waking up several times in the middle of the night and remaining awake, sometimes for hours
  • Frequent and long naps during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating at work or school
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times, mostly when sitting still to watch television or read
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Loud snoring, breathing, or gasping noises while you sleep
  • An irresistible urge to move your legs, or a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs, particularly at bedtime
  • Requiring a stimulant such as caffeine to keep yourself awake during the day