Understanding Sleep Disorders

Understanding Sleep DisordersWhile some of us may occasionally experience a sleepless night, for some people this is routine. In fact, the National Institutes of Health 20 million Americans find themselves suffering from sleeping problems occasionally another 40 million suffer from a sleep disorder. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety don’t only contribute to this problem but they can make it worse.

Understanding Sleep Disorders

When a doctor tells you that you’re suffering from a sleep disorder what they’re really telling you is that you have abnormal sleep patterns that interfere with how you function mentally, physically, and emotionally. The clinical term for this is “insomnia.” It’s used when discussing patients who have trouble falling or staying asleep as well as those who wake too early in the morning or feeling unrefreshed.

Some of the most common forms of this disorder include:

  • Sleep apnea: This is marked by loud snoring that’s the result of an obstructed airway.
  • Sleepwalking: This is when you get up and walk around while asleep.
  • Narcolepsy: This happens when you fall asleep spontaneously.

Anxiety Disorder or Sleep Disorder: Which Came First

Nobody knows for sure what the answer to this question is. It’s known that anxiety disorder can result in issues with sleeping. However, there’s also research indicating that when you don’t get enough sleep you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Of course, there’s also research indicating that people who suffer from chronic insomnia are also at a higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder.

Health Risks Associated with Sleep Disorders

When you suffer from a sleep disorder you won’t only feel tired you also won’t perform as well and be more likely to get injured and develop other health issues (e.g. heart disease, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes).


If you think you’re having a problem with sleeping you should talk to your doctor or your therapist. There are many different treatment options available including medication and cognitive-behavior therapy through which you can learn to identify and modify any behaviors that may be making your sleep or anxiety disorder worse. To treat your anxiety your doctor may also suggest relaxation techniques such as meditation. Sometimes patients will need to use a combination of treatment modalities to improve their sleep and feel less anxious.

There are several things that you can do to reduce your anxiety so you sleep better, including:

  • Breathing in and out slowly while visualizing a serene environment (e.g. beach, grassy hill) can help you relax.
  • Regular exercise (especially yoga) either in the morning or early afternoon is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Not only will it serve as an outlet for your frustrations but it’ll also result in the release of mood-enhancing endorphins.
  • Prioritize the items on your “to-do” list so your time and energy are spent on important tasks.
  • Break large projects up into smaller ones that you can manage easily. Don’t be afraid to delegate whenever possible.
  • Listen to soft, calming music.
  • Prioritize getting enough sleep so you’ll be able to concentrate and be in a better mood. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. It’s also important to get up at the same time every day – even on weekends.
  • Talk to a friend or a therapist about your anxiety disorder.

Once you’ve tried some of these tips and find that you’re still struggling to fall asleep you should consult with TMS Advantage in St Peterburg and Clearwater, FL. They may prescribe something to help you or even recommend an herbal sleep remedy that will help you sleep better.

Picture Credit: Freepik

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