Chronic fatigue, aches and pains, constant stress, a restless mind—these are only a few of the many symptoms of sleep disorders. These conditions can wreak havoc on your quality of life, causing stress at night and poor physical and mental aptitude during the day.
If you are experiencing chronic poor sleep, you’re not alone. Approximately 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, but luckily, there are a number of natural and medical treatments to help you get the rest you deserve.
7 Common Sleep Disorders
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sleep Apnea
- Sleep Eating
- Night Terrors
Struggling with a sleep disorder can make life a chore, but finding treatment may be easier than you think.
Home remedies and minor medical treatments have helped millions to find restful sleep, get their internal clocks back on track, and resolve sleep health problems. Others have found that something as simple as getting a new bed, pillow, or even new bedsheets has made a big difference in regulating their circadian rhythm. For other sleep disorders, medical help may be the best way forward.
No matter which treatment option you prefer, the first step is to diagnose your problem. What causes sleep disorders? Which one might you have? We’ll help you answer all these questions and provide you with some helpful information.
7 Common Sleep Disorders and How to Treat Them
This list of sleep disorders is by no means exhaustive — they are simply the most common conditions that cause people to lose sleep. There are many uncommon and rare sleep disorders that affect millions around the globe, and many remain a mystery to the medical community. For this reason, if you have a sleep disorder (or suspect you have one), it’s best to consult a sleep specialist or doctor before taking any sleep medications or supplements.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder defined by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Insomnia is a desynchronization of your circadian rhythm, and it can become a serious issue. Mild insomnia symptoms might include waking up throughout the night or struggling to fall asleep for an hour or more after getting into bed. Severe insomnia may result in the complete inability to sleep at night and extreme fatigue, or hypersomnia, during the day.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in America, with about 1 in 3 adults affected and 1 in 10 suffering from severe and chronic insomnia. Common causes are stress, anxiety, drug and alcohol use, diabetes, and some medications. You are also more likely to suffer from insomnia as you get older.
There is a wide range of treatments for insomnia, as the disorder has many causes and levels of severity. Those with severe insomnia will likely require some medical treatment or therapy from sleep specialists, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you can do to reduce the symptoms on your own. Those with mild or moderate insomnia may be able to treat the condition with natural remedies.
Treating insomnia symptoms at home means you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes, but they can result in a good night’s sleep. Here’s how to get started.
- Develop consistent sleep patterns: Plan to wake up and go to bed around the same time every day.
- Adapt your diet and substance intake: Cut down on nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. Avoid large meals within a few hours of sleep.
- Get more exercise: Even a few hours a week will help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
- Don’t take naps: Naps during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep: Don’t eat, work, or use your phone in bed. Make sure your sleep space is comfortable and dark — and use it only for sleep.
- Plan a relaxing activity before bed (not on your phone): Meditation, reading, and enjoying a cup of tea in front of a fire or looking out a window are great sleep habits to relax the mind and body. Avoid using your phone or watching TV at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to sleep: The more you think about how to fall asleep, the less you’ll sleep. Focus on your breathing and don’t stress about falling asleep.
Those who suffer from stress-related insomnia or an unbalanced circadian rhythm may benefit from a weighted blanket or a weighted sleep mask. According to many specialists, weighted blankets have a body-hugging effect that has been shown to decrease stress and improve sleep in those with insomnia.
Somnolence is the scientific term for excessive sleepiness or drowsiness. Similar to hypersomnia, those who suffer from somnolence experience moderate to severe daytime sleepiness.
Causes for this condition are wide-ranging and include stress, jet lag, work-related sleep problems, insomnia, and anxiety. It can also be caused by a number of medical conditions and medications.
Many use caffeine to keep them going through the day, but this can eventually make the condition even worse.
Instead, you should try to take steps to improve evening sleep and decrease daytime sleepiness. Here’s how you can start.
- Set a bedtime and wake-up time: Regulating your sleep-wake cycle starts with a sleep schedule.
- Standardize meal times: Eating one a schedule can further establish a healthy routine.
- Make your sleep space comfortable: Daytime sleepiness can be caused by an uncomfortable mattress that results in poor sleep. Also, distractions caused by light and noise can prevent restful sleep. Try to keep them out of your sleep space.
- Avoid alcohol before bed: Alcohol prevents you from achieving deep sleep, resulting in drowsier days.
- Ensure 7-8 hours of sleep: Adjust your schedule to make sure you have 7-8 hours for shut-eye.
- Make a pre-bedtime ritual: Do the same thing each night before bed so your body knows when it’s time to start relaxing. Meditation, reading, or music are positive sleep habits. Avoid eating, TV, and phone use.
- Don’t use your phone in bed: Phone use before bed is associated with sleep problems.
One of the most common causes of somnolence that often goes overlooked is having a poor quality mattress. Even if you sleep through the night, your mattress may be preventing you from getting fulfilling sleep that energizes you for the next day.
Purple mattresses are top-rated for comfort and overall sleep quality. Each mattress features a unique comfort layer called the Purple Grid™. This hyper-elastic polymer layer cradles the body and provides optimal contour support for healthy spinal alignment and more restful sleep. Thousands of customers have reported falling asleep faster, sleeping deeply, and feeling more rested during the day. Many have even claimed that they sleep more hours at night than ever before, which is the primary factor for reducing somnolence.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) causes the uncontrollable urge to move your legs. This movement disorder occurs while you’re awake, making it very difficult for the sufferer and their partner to relax and fall asleep.
Restless leg syndrome is more common in women (especially pregnant women). This movement behavior disorder is usually caused by a lack of mobility or sitting still for a long period of time. It’s might be especially severe after a long movie, flight, or lecture.
Unfortunately, remaining seated for a long period of time is a necessary part of most of our lives. If you’re experiencing restless leg syndrome, these solutions might help.
<li><strong>Take a warm bath before bed:</strong> This will relax the body and mind and make falling asleep easier.</li>
<li><strong>Wait to go to bed until you’re tired:</strong> Avoid spending a lot of time awake in bed. This can make symptoms worse or contribute to insomnia.</li>
<li><strong>Do a mentally engaging pre-bed ritual: </strong>Enjoy a puzzle like sudoku or a crossword before bed — but not on your phone.</li>
<li><strong>Get up and walk a bit when symptoms start:</strong> Getting out of bed and walking for a few minutes can make symptoms go away.</li>
<li><strong>Massage the legs and affected areas: </strong>Sit up and lightly massage or rub your legs. This can often reduce symptoms.</li>
A weighted blanket can also be effective at treating RLS. Putting pressure on the legs can help soothe the nerves and reduce anxiety that causes spontaneous movements.
Sleep apnea is a condition caused by the partial or complete closing of the throat during sleep. There are multiple types of this condition, including central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
This disorder is associated with loud snoring or wheezing during sleep. Not only is sleep apnea a serious condition that restricts your airway and reduces sleep quality, but it can also be very straining on relationships. Those with sleep apnea can suffer from insomnia and somnolence as well, as they are often unable to stay asleep or move through each sleep phase to complete a sleep cycle.
Sleep apnea is caused by a number of factors. Some are unavoidable, such as having a narrow airway or having a family history of the disorder. Others include drug and alcohol use, smoking, and being overweight.
Some experience sleep apnea every night, while others can avoid symptoms by sleeping in a certain position or maintaining proper alignment of the head, neck, and shoulders. Sleep apnea is most often experienced when sleeping on your back, so investing in a mattress that promotes spinal alignment on your side or stomach is a great solution. Purple mattresses are designed for all sleeping positions, allowing sleepers to experience comfortable sleep on their side or stomach. This makes getting relief from sleep apnea that much easier.
If you’re not in a position to get a new mattress, even investing in a supportive pillow can make a big difference in neck and head position that affects your airway. A Purple pillow — made from the same material as the Purple Grid™ — can offer unrivaled support and a cool sleep surface.
Here are some additional ways to improve sleep apnea symptoms:
- Do light exercise: Even if you don’t need to lose weight, exercise has been shown to improve health and reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
- Lose weight: Excess weight can cause the restriction of your airway. Losing weight may make the problem go away.
- Cut down on alcohol and depressants (sleeping pills included): These substances relax the muscles and further restrict your airway.
- Quit smoking: Smoking causes inflammation of the airway, aggravating symptoms.
Sleep apnea can be a serious condition as it prevents sleepers from breathing. It can also damage your health, causing high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke. Sufferers may require more advanced medical treatment such as a nasal mask or even surgery. If you often wake up gasping for air or if you think your partner sometimes stops breathing during sleep, you should seek patient-centered care from a specialist as soon as possible.
Also called somnambulism, sleepwalking is a condition commonly caused by stress, a change in your sleep schedule, illness, or sleep deprivation.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many things that you can do to avoid sleepwalking besides decreasing stress and trying to get plenty of fulfilling sleep. As a lack of sleep often correlates to increased stress, these go hand in hand.
One of the best ways to combat sleepwalking is to make your bedroom as relaxing and conducive to falling asleep as possible. To do that, you can:
- Keep work out of your bedroom: Working in your bedroom is not good, but even keeping work materials there can stress you out.
- Lose the TV: TV in bed is a distraction that can lead to insomnia, which in turn exacerbates sleepwalking.
- Update your mattress: A comfortable mattress can increase the number of hours you sleep and decrease sleep deprivation. The Purple® Hybrid or Purple® Hybrid Premier are some of the highest-rated mattresses on the web for improving sleep quality.
- Get comfortable bed sheets: Even if you have a good mattress, your sheets may be causing the “drum effect.” This occurs when sheets are too tight and prevent you from getting proper support from your mattress. Try Purple’s stretchy and breathable bamboo sheets to prevent your bedding from getting in the way of your sleep.
- Get dark curtains for windows: Dark, heavy curtains block light and noise and prevent cold air from getting inside. A weighted sleep mask can also help.
Sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) is a similar condition to sleepwalking and may affect sleepwalkers. Those affected eat and even prepare meals while asleep.
This disorder is not well understood, but it is believed to be caused by stress, anxiety, eating disorders, or withdrawal from alcohol or nicotine. It is more common in adults, and those with other sleep disorders like sleepwalking or restless leg syndrome are more likely to experience SRED.
If you have experienced SRED, you can try the following:
- Reduce stress and anxiety: Reducing stress can help restore a healthy mental state and prevent parasomnia conditions such as sleep eating.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: These drugs affect the sleep-wake cycle and their use can lead to many sleep disorders.
There aren’t many effective ways to deal with sleep eating on your own. If you experience this condition for over 2 months, it is highly recommended that you see a doctor. Behavioral therapy may be effective, or you may be referred to a sleep disorders institute or one of many sleep disorders clinics for further assistance.
Also called sleep terror disorder, sleep terrors is a condition that causes a sleeper to show signs of extreme fear and distress while sleeping. Unlike nightmares, which cause fear when you wake up, night terrors occur when you’re still asleep.
Doctors don’t yet understand night terrors very well, but luckily, they are believed to be harmless. These sleep problems can be caused by an excessive lack of sleep, stress, illness, or changes in your sleep schedule or environment. They also seem to be hereditary and may be triggered by RLS, sleep apnea, and alcohol use.
Night terrors are common sleep disorders in children than adults, so medication is rarely recommended. If you suffer from them as an adult, these remedies may help:
- Reduce stress: If you aren’t coping with stress, you may be dealing with it in your dreams.
- Schedule a check-up: Night terrors might be caused by a physical or mental health condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease. See your doctor for an examination and evaluation.
- Cut back on alcohol: Alcohol can reduce sleep quality and make night terrors worse.
- Keep your room quiet: Noises that occur when you’re sleeping may increase the chance of night terrors. Turn off the TV or any music and silence notifications on your phone.
- Set a preventative alarm: Track when your sleep terrors happen (with a partner’s help, if possible) and set an alarm to wake yourself up before they normally occur.
The best treatment for adults with mild to moderate night terrors is to get a good night’s sleep. Make sure your mattress is cool and unrestrictive and that you’re getting the right support for your sleeping position.
If you experience severe or regular night terrors that you have difficulty waking from, you should seek help from a medical professional at a sleep center.
Getting your Sleep Back on Track
Sleep disorders affect millions of adults, but there are several effective treatment methods available. These natural options can be implemented in your life today to help decrease the symptoms of most types of sleep disorders.
You may think that you don’t have a sleep disorder and that it’s normal to have trouble sleeping at night. But if this is a regular occurrence, you might have some form of insomnia. Those who suffer from insomnia or somnolence may get used to the situation and believe being tired and stressed is normal. This is untrue!
Those who experience disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome usually can’t push their conditions aside. These can often be treated by improving sleep conditions, but medication is also a possibility.
Parasomnias like sleepwalking, sleep eating, and night terrors vary in their degree of severity. Some are harmless incidences that can be solved by reducing stress and getting more sleep. But they can also occur often and endanger the sleeper or others in the home.
Here’s a quick wrap-up of the best ways to decrease symptoms of sleep disorders or prevent them altogether:
- Set a routine: Following a standard routine (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day) helps prevent sleep-wake disorders. It promotes a healthy circadian rhythm and the release of sleep and wake hormones at proper times during the day.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine: These drugs are universal opponents of good sleep. Excessive use can prevent your body from resting the way it should.
- Reduce stress: Stress is a cause of almost every sleep disorder. Take a yoga or meditation course or visit a therapist to improve your stress management.
- Get rid of bedroom distractions: Your bedroom should be for sleeping and nothing else. Using it for other activities can train your body to sleep poorly. On the contrary, if you use your bedroom only for sleep, you can train your body to enter sleep mode when you get into bed.
- Invest in a comfortable bed: An old or unsupportive mattress plays a huge roll in many sleep disorders. Poor support and tension every night can lead to somnolence and stress during the day, which snowballs into more serious sleep disorders.
- Do light exercise: Exercise reduces stress and helps to regulate mental and physical health and well-being. With just 30 minutes of exercise a few days a week, you’ll see a huge difference in sleep quality.
- Get plenty of rest: It may seem obvious, but many sleep disorders are caused by sleep deprivation. Plan for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If that isn’t possible, it may be time to reevaluate your work-life balance.
One way to help get a good night’s sleep is to switch to Purple. Over 10,000 sleepers have experienced what it’s like to fall asleep faster and sleep all night long, thanks to the Purple Grid™ and Purple’s accessories like the Purple® Pillow, weighted blanket, and bamboo sheets.
Try an ultra-comfortable Purple mattress risk-free for 100 days so you can get the sleep you deserve.