Do you have a sleep disorder?
Do you think you're getting enough sleep? If not, your answers to the following questions might help you and your doctor find a solution.
Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.
Have you been told that you snore loudly?
If you answered "yes." Your snoring might be a noise problem for other people, but it could be a health problem for you. Snoring is a sign of a restricted airway and is linked to high blood pressure. Your snoring could even signal sleep apnea, a more serious problem that involves interruptions in breathing.
Have you noticed, or been told, that you sometimes stop breathing or gasp for breath as you sleep?
If you answered "yes." These are symptoms of a serious disorder called sleep apnea. These momentary pauses in breathing are bad for your heart and entire cardiovascular system. Sleep apnea is often accompanied by snoring and daytime fatigue.
Do you feel sleepy or fall asleep during activities like watching TV, reading or driving?
If you answered "yes." You might not be getting sufficient sleep for your mind or body. It's possible that you have sleep apnea, narcolepsy or some other sleep disorder that is depriving you of the rest you need. Daytime drowsiness also may be a sign of a medical condition unrelated to poor sleep, so it's important to see your doctor.
Do you have tingling or other odd sensations in your legs that make you want to move them around at night? If you answered "yes." These symptoms suggest restless legs syndrome (RLS), a neurological movement disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. You might feel a creeping or crawling in your legs that goes away with movement. Sometimes RLS is described as painful.
Do you have problems sleeping three or more times a week?
If you answered "yes." Everyone has a bad night now and then, but several nights a week is too much. Maybe you wake up during the night and can't get back to sleep. Or perhaps it seems to take forever to fall asleep in the first place. In any case, regularly missing out on sleep can take a toll on your well-being.
It's a good idea to talk with your doctor about any of the questions you answered "yes" to. He or she might ask you to keep a sleep journal to track your symptoms and habits. It could reveal that your difficulties are related to lifestyle, such as drinking too much caffeine.
Your doctor might suggest changing your sleeping schedule or environment, avoiding certain beverages or food before bedtime, medication, or other treatment.
If you answered no to all five questions, you probably do not have a sleep disorder. However, it's important to note that this assessment is not a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about your health, talk to your provider, regardless of the results of the assessment.
Different people need different amounts of sleep. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Teenagers, on the other hand, might need more than 9 hours of sleep.
If you don't get the sleep you need, you may experience memory troubles, irritability, or slowed reactions or responses. Research has also linked poor sleep to long-term health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
Sources: National Institutes of Health; National Sleep Foundation