Not all sleep problems inevitably end in a sleep disorder. Most people sleep better and sometimes not so well. However, if you are lying awake regularly when you are about to sleep, there is a suspicion of developing sleep disturbance.
If you have persistent sleep problems with no obvious cause, you should go to a doctor as soon as possible. Your first contact person is your family doctor. In no case should you be put off in practice with a recipe for sleeping pills? Sleep aids are often the shortest route to sleep disorder. Find a doctor who takes time to consult. In many places, you will find doctors who specialize in sleep medicine. Your health insurance company can also help you in your search for a doctor with experience in sleep medicine.
The cycle of sleep disorders
Sustained sleep problems sometimes lead to a cycle of sleep disturbances, which is increasingly solidifying. Nocturnal pondering or an irregular sleep pattern, for example, help you to fall asleep and sleep through, resulting in fatigue and loss of performance. Tired and harried we get easily under pressure, we feel irritable or overwhelmed. Anger or stress, in turn, encourages nocturnal pondering, difficulty falling asleep or an irregular sleep pattern.
The entry into the cycle of sleep disorders usually goes unnoticed. A regular sleep rhythm, sleep rituals or relaxation techniques help to avoid the cycle of sleep disorders or to get out of the circulation. In general, however, this is only possible at an early stage of sleep disorders. With persistent sleep disturbances medical and/or psychological assistance is expedient.
Causes of sleep disorders
Sleep disorders can have many causes. For example, women often experience sleep disorders during menopause – or during pregnancy. Teenagers are particularly bad at puberty. In these cases, hormonal changes cause sleep disorders. A thyroid dysfunction or many other diseases favor sleep disorders, as do many medications. Before a targeted treatment of sleep disorders, therefore, other possible causes of sleep problems should be excluded.
Diagnosis of sleep disorders
If self-help with regular sleep patterns, sleep rituals, and other sleep-promoting measures do not result in a good night’s sleep, you should consult a doctor. The treatment of insomnia is easier the earlier a diagnosis is made. Treating sleep disorders is often much easier than many people believe. Sleeping pills should play only a minor role in the treatment of sleep disorders and be used as short as possible in each case.
A continuation of the outpatient medical diagnosis can be done inpatient in a so-called sleep laboratory. Sleep is usually monitored for two nights with numerous sensors at these sleep medical wards. For example, an EEG is recorded to monitor the course of sleep phases and the nocturnal activity of the brain. The sleep laboratory can often provide further evidence for the treatment of sleep disorders.
Therapy of sleep disorders
A combination of medication (if not dispensable) and behavioral training has been proven to treat sleep disorders. So-called sleep training is all about overcoming negative thoughts and experiences about sleep and finding a regular sleep rhythm.
Frequent sleep disorders
Sleep disorder, difficulty sleeping, sleep apnea with heavy snoring, and Restless Legs Syndrome are the most common causes of disturbed sleep. But other diseases affect sleep. Typical examples are depression, cardiovascular disease, and menopausal symptoms.
Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
Doctors refer to sleep disorders as insomnia. Among them, various forms of falling asleep and staying asleep are summarized. The primary insomnia is any sleep disorder in which there is no reason for sleep problems. In the case of secondary sleep or sleep disorders, however, clear triggers are visible, such as:
- Diseases of the cardiovascular system, hormonal dysfunction, cancer, pain or rheumatism
- mental or neurological disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, dementia or neurosis
- traumatizing experiences
- Noise, light or shift work and jet lag
- Abuse or side effect of drugs
- Drugs and alcohol.
Sleep apnea – respiratory arrest in snorers
Sleep apnea or sleep apnea syndrome is characterized by a nocturnal respiratory arrest in snorers. The respiratory arrest can last up to about one minute. But even shorter dropouts worsen the oxygen supply dramatically. Physicians assume that untreated sleep apnea shortens life expectancy by about 10 years. Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by sleep apnea for repeated respiratory bursts of more than 10 seconds. Short respiratory arrest during sleep is considered non-morbid.
Contrary to popular belief, sleep apnea is not a domain of men. Experts predict 800,000 sleep apnea cases among middle-aged people in Germany. Two-thirds of them are actually men – but the last third is snoring women.
Sleep apnea is in urgent need of treatment. If you have a suspicion, please contact your doctor.
Restless legs – restless legs syndrome
Unexplained leg movement and physical restlessness are typical symptoms of Restless Legs, the restless legs syndrome. The causes of this sleep disorder are largely unknown.