11 Signs You Have A High-Functioning Sleep Disorder
If you never feel fully rested — despite being in bed for the recommended seven to nine hours per night — it may be a sign of a sleep disorder. You might have insomnia, sleep apnea, or another health issue that’s keeping you from getting adequate rest.
And all of the above really can start to impact your health, beyond simply causing you to feel tired during the day. “According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 33 percent of us don’t get a good night’s sleep, and this is a major issue for our physical and mental wellbeing,” Pierrick Arnal, head of Clinical Research and the Scientific Director at Rythm, tells Bustle. “Sleep disorders can have serious impacts on health, specifically affecting areas such as memory consolidation, metabolism regulation, and even strengthening the immune system. But in addition to physical and mental health, lack of sleep can negatively impact our ability to be our best selves.”
If you’ve been feeling bad, it’s definitely worth it to look into a sleep disorder as a possible cause. “Causes of sleep disorders vary widely, from medical issues to medication,” Chris Brantner, sleep expert and founder of SleepZoo, tells Bustle. “However, I’d caution that the average person has poor sleep hygiene. For many, simply improving lifestyle habits can help them deal with sleep disorders. That said, it’s also worth speaking to a doctor should you have a serious condition.” Here are a few signs and symptoms that may point to a sleep disorder, that you definitely shouldn’t ignore.
1. You’ve Been Feeling Irritable Lately
If you can’t seem to shake a feeling of perpetual crankiness, it may be worth looking into your quality of sleep, to see if the issue might be stemming from there. While there are so many issues that can lead to irritability — such as PMS, anxiety, and depression, just to name a few — poor sleep can do it, too.
“Sleep disorders often cause sleepiness. No surprises there. But people have difficulty connecting the dots when sleep problems show up as difficulty with attention or mood,” Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a board-certified sleep specialist, neurologist, and director of The Sound Sleep Project, tells Bustle. “So the next time you’re having trouble driving without distraction, or feeling unusually irritable with a colleague, consider that the problem might be poor sleep.”
2. Your Relationships Are Suffering
“We don’t often think about it, but being the kind of person others want to be around requires a healthy brain that’s firing on all cylinders,” Lisa Tan, chief marketing officer of the sleep tech company Reverie, tells Bustle. So if you’ve been feeling unusually introverted, or you’ve been picking fights with others, it may be your body’s way of letting you know you aren’t getting enough sleep.
Conflicts might show up at work, for example, or in your friendships or relationship. “When you’re sleepy, [your brain isn’t working properly],” Tan says. “Which is one reason why many studies have shown that an otherwise healthy relationship suffers badly when one partner is suffering from insomnia.” If you find your relationships are being affected, and you think lack of sleep is to blame, talk to your doctor about possible solutions to help you get a better night’s rest.
3. You Catch Every Cold That Goes Around
If you can’t seem to enter into a building without catching a cold, or you come down with every flu that strikes your office, it may be a sign that you have impaired immune function, which can be a result of lack of sleep.
“Chronic illness can occur secondarily to inadequate sleep, as the body is not given enough time to … regenerate,” Dr. Raghu Idupuganti, an anesthesiologist at NYC Surgical Associates, tells Bustle. “Much of the body’s natural healing mechanisms occur while we are sleeping, with increased benefits corresponding to increased sleep.”
If you keep getting sick, and suspect that a sleep disorder might be to blame, tell your doctor right away. They can perform a sleep test, where they monitor you while you sleep, to see if this is truly the heart of the issue.
4. You Fall Asleep Way Too Easily
Do you pass out the moment you plop down into a movie theater seat, or start to feel drowsy the minute you lay eyes on your couch? If you’re falling asleep the moment you become horizontal, it’s a sure sign you’re not getting proper sleep.
“Sure, it’s not totally uncommon to take an afternoon snooze when you’re watching TV or something, but if you frequently doze off throughout the day during activities, like watching TV or reading, there might be an underlying issue,” Brantner says.
5. Your Anxiety Has Been Off The Charts
The thing with anxiety is that it can cause sleep disorders, but it can also be made worse by them. So it really can become a question of “which came first?”
“Anxiety and sleep disorders often go hand-in-hand,” GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC, tells Bustle. “A person with anxiety will have trouble sleeping, and a lack or disruption in sleep will result in anxiety.’
So it really will be important to tell your doctor, if your anxiety is worse. “If a person who does not meet criteria for an anxiety disorder feels unusually anxious and is not getting restful sleep, the anxiety could be a symptom of a sleep disorder,” Guarino says.