Not getting enough or good quality sleep can have a big impact on our lives, but the causes aren’t always obvious. These are a few of the more common sleep problems, and the symptoms you might experience.
Insomnia refers to being unable to fall asleep, frequent waking during the night or waking up and being unable to fall back to sleep. It’s a common problem, with as many as a third of people in Britain suffering from it at one time. There are a lot of possible causes including stress, depression, asthma, hormonal imbalances and heart disease, as well as certain medications. Read more about one person’s experience with insomnia or find out more about getting a good night’s sleep with our 8 top tips.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
This condition causes the throat to relax during sleep and become so narrow that it either fully or partially obstructs the airway. This may happen several times a night - in severe cases, as often as once every one or two minutes. Those suffering from sleep apnoea are often unaware that it’s happening, but it often leaves them tired and unrested. Causes include being overweight, having a large neck, smoking or drinking before sleep or certain medications that have a sedative effect.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
Restless leg syndrome refers to the overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs, and it can sometimes affect the arms as well. Often worse in the evening or at night, it results in an unpleasant crawling sensation that can range from mild discomfort to interfering with everyday life. In most instances there is no obvious cause, though cases of secondary RLS are a result of specific health problems, such as iron deficiency. RLS is also associated with pregnancy - up to one in five pregnant women will experience it in the last three months before giving birth.
More commonly known as teeth grinding, this is experienced by most people at some point. Around 8-10% of the population grind their teeth to the extent that they break or damage them. The causes are wide ranging, and it is often seen with other sleep time behaviours such as snoring, OSA and sleep talking. Studies have shown that people who use or take psychoactive substances, such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or anxiety and depression medication are more likely to grind their teeth. Mental health disorders are also strongly linked to it.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Not getting enough, satisfying sleep can be harmful to your health - and leave you feeling less than your best. If you experience any of the symptoms above - or are struggling with sleeping in other ways - you can speak to your GP. They will be able to look for the cause and help you get the rest you need.
This article has been brought to you using public health information freely available online (click on links in the article for more information). benenden health has not provided any direct medical advice within this article. Please consult the sources provided if you would like further information or support.