How Do Sleep Disorders Impact Sleep Health?

January 3, 2024 · John Gallagher

How Will a Sleep Disorder Impact Sleep Health?

If you had to choose the most important ingredient for physical health, you’d probably have three options to choose from:

  • Your diet — the ingredients you consume.
  • Your lifestyle — the decisions you make that contribute to your well-being.
  • Your sleep — the amount of restorative rest you get each night.

You’re likely aware of how important sleep is for your health. It rejuvenates your body, helping to repair damaged cells and streamline important processes like digestion, respiration, and heart functionality.

And if you’re like many other people, you still don’t get a full night of restorative sleep on a regular basis. As much as 33% of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough sleep each night. This can leave your body feeling fatigued and irritated, leading to longer-term health concerns if the issue isn’t fixed.

Many of these people face a sleep disorder — a condition that challenges the quality, timing, or amount of your sleep. Sometimes known as sleep-wake disorders, these conditions often appear alongside recognized mental health conditions like anxiety.

What is a sleep disorder?

Sleep disorders affect far more than your nighttime quality of rest. After a poor night of sleep caused by a sleep disorder, your body is left without the energy it needs for a productive day. Instead, you might feel groggy, unmotivated, or confused. Many people with a sleep disorder turn to napping to get through the day.

What are the most common sleep disorders?

More than 50 million people in America are estimated to have a sleep disorder. Here are some of the most common sleep disorders they face:

  • Insomnia: Sleep disorder with consistent difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep, often leading to persistent fatigue.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep disorder where breathing starts, stops, and starts again during sleep.
  • Restless leg syndrome: Neurological disorder with an uncontrollable drive to move the legs, often occurring during the evening or periods of rest like sleep.
  • Narcolepsy: Neurological disorder which affects your brain’s ability to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

While these are some of the most common sleep disorders, they’re far from the only ones that doctors diagnose. Depending on your symptoms, a doctor might diagnose you with one of more than 80 sleep disorders. Sleep disorders directly affect how well you fall asleep, how well you stay asleep, or how well your body recovers during sleep.

What are the symptoms of a sleep disorder?

Each sleep disorder has a slightly different set of symptoms. For example, some sleep disorders might be characterized by an inability to fall asleep. Others might only affect your ability to stay asleep or to feel rested in the morning. Depending on your condition, you might also experience secondary symptoms like snoring, inappropriate sleep times, or unusual breathing patterns.

Here are a few more symptoms of a sleep disorder:

  • Choking or gasping for air: Brief interruptions in your breathing patterns which lead to sudden wake episodes where you gasp for air.
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness: Persistent tiredness during daytime hours, despite having the opportunity to sleep the night before.
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone: Temporary loss of muscle strength, known as cataplexy.
  • Sleep paralysis: Temporary inability to move or speak while you fall asleep or wake up.
  • Unrefreshing sleep: Feeling as though you haven’t slept at all, or haven’t slept enough, despite a full night of sleep.
  • Night sweats: Excessive sweating during nighttime hours.
  • Tossing and turning: Struggling to get comfortable, or enter a restful state, while attempting to fall asleep.
  • Memory or concentration issues: Cognitive impairment during the day that can follow confusion, tiredness, or memory loss.

Recognizing these symptoms is often the first step in resolving a sleep disorder. If you notice one or more of these symptoms while trying to get a full night of sleep, it’s important not to self-diagnose. Instead, consult the help of a medical professional you trust for a productive treatment plan.

What can I do about a sleep disorder?

Sleep disorders are a fairly common inhibitor of sleep. From fatigue to mood swings to compromising your creativity, they can make it more difficult to live a full day.

Here are a few things you can do to address a sleep disorder:

  • Educate yourself: Take time to understand your symptoms, familiarize yourself with different sleep disorders, and take the information with you to a verified sleep professional.
  • Track your sleep: Writer in a sleep journal or use a sleep-tracking app on your phone to get a better understanding of your main sleep metrics. If symptoms persist, you might also consider a sleep study.
  • Adopt healthy pre-sleep habits: Practicing a healthy sleep hygiene routine means limiting screen time, minimizing use of stimulants like caffeine, and establishing a cool bedroom temperature before bed.
  • Consider lifestyle changes: Some sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, are heavily influenced by the way you live your life. For example, losing weight or sleeping on your side can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Join a support group: Connecting with other people experiencing the same symptoms is a big step toward facing your sleep disorder. Many cities offer sleep disorder support groups; you can also find a number of high-quality sleep disorder support groups online.
  • Explore treatment options: Depending on your specific sleep disorder, treatment might include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, medication, and/or a variety of different relaxation techniques.
  • Prioritize mental health: Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges can make sleep disorder symptoms worse. Seek therapy, practice stress-relieving techniques, and pursue professional mental health services to make your mental health the priority it should be.
  • Seek professional advice: Don’t attempt to diagnose yourself with a sleep disorder on your own. Consult with a sleep doctor who can conduct the right tests, diagnose conditions, and recommend appropriate treatments and next steps.

Addressing a sleep disorder might feel daunting at first. Once you begin the process, however, you’ll find that proactive steps can help you unlock better productivity and an improved quality of life. It can also replace stress and anxiety with knowledge about your conditions, which delivers peace of mind.

Another ingredient in addressing a sleep disorder - your sleep environment - is often an underrated way to calm symptoms. This means using pillows, blankets, and other sleep accessories that encourage your body to reach and maintain a soothing state of rest. It also means finding a mattress that will appropriately support your limbs, back, neck, and head.

While the right mattress can’t alleviate a sleep disorder, it can certainly help to minimize your symptoms. At Mattress Warehouse, we’re helping connect people of all ages with mattress options that deliver high-quality sleep. Our patented bedMATCH sleep diagnostic system analyzes your complete sleep profile — from your height to your weight to your body type — and identifies mattress options at every price point that deliver the sleep you need.

No price haggling, no second-guessing, just a list of every mattress in our store suited for your sleep needs.

Stop by your local Mattress Warehouse to try the five-minute bedMATCH diagnostic process for yourself, or try the online version of our bedMATCH process to browse qualified mattress options right now.