• Health & Safety

Signs of Having a Sleep Disorder / Find a Specialist

Look over this list of common signs of a disorders, and talk to your doctor if you have any of them:

  • It takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night.
  • You awaken frequently in the night and then have trouble falling back to sleep again.
  • You awaken too early in the morning.
  • You frequently don’t feel well rested despite spending 7–8 hours or more asleep at night.
  • 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 are angry, fearful, or when you laugh.
  • You feel as though you cannot move when you first wake up.
  • Your bed partner notes that your legs or arms jerk often during sleep.
  • You regularly need to use stimulants to stay awake during the day.

Also keep in mind that, although children can show some of these same signs of a sleep , they often do not show signs of excessive daytime sleepiness. Instead, they may seem overactive and have difficulty focusing and concentrating. They also may not do their best in school.

If You Think You Have A Sleep Disorder

At various points in our lives, all of us suffer from a lack of sleep that can be remedied by making sure we have the opportunity to get enough sleep. But, if you are spending enough time in bed and still wake up tired or feel very sleepy during the day, you may have a sleep disorder.

One of the best ways you can tell if you are getting enough good quality sleep, and whether you have signs of a sleep disorder, is by keeping a sleep diary: a record of the quality and quantity of your sleep; your use of medications, alcohol and caffeinated beverages; your exercise patterns; and how sleepy you feel during the day. After a week or so, look over this information to see how many hours of sleep or nighttime awakenings the night before are linked to your being tired the next day. This information will give you a sense of how much uninterrupted sleep you need to avoid daytime sleepiness. You can also use the diary to see some of the patterns or practices that may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.

You may have a sleep disorder and should see your doctor if your sleep diary reveals any of the following:

  • You consistently take more than 30 minutes each night to fall asleep.
  • You consistently awaken more than a few times or for long periods of time each night.
  • You take frequent naps.
  • You often feel sleepy during the day—especially if you fall asleep at inappropriate times during the day.

Find a Sleep Center or Sleep Specialist

If your doctor refers you to a sleep center or sleep specialist, make sure that center or specialist is qualified to diagnose and treat your sleep problem. To find sleep centers accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, go to www.aasmnet.org… and click on “Find a Sleep Center,” or call 708–492–0930. To find sleep specialists certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine, go to www.absm.org… and click on “Diplomates of the ABSM.”