Sleep disorders can be caused by a variety of health conditions as well as a number of different types of medications. Some of these conditions include respiratory problems, heartburn, sleep apnea, and arthritis and leg disorders.
Many respiratory problems can cause a person to have trouble breathing throughout the night and/or can cause them to wake up too often to guarantee a restful night’s sleep. Some of these conditions include allergies, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, chronic sinusitis and the common cold. A number of antibiotics that are prescribed to treat these conditions can often lead to insomnia. If you find it necessary to take any one of these medications discuss with your doctor your concerns about your sleep and see if he/she can devise a ‘dosage schedule’ to avoid any sleep related problems.
Heartburn (also sometimes referred to as gastroesophageal reflux) takes place when stomach acid from partially digested food makes it way into the esophagus, throat or mouth. This problem makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep or stay asleep, especially if he/she has eaten a heavy meal right before bedtime that consisted of either greasy or spicy foods. The most common symptoms of heartburn are a burning feeling in the chest or throat and pain in the abdominal area. There are ways to decrease your chances of suffering from heartburn. These ways include ceasing eating within three or four hours before you go to bed, quitting smoking, cutting down on your consumption of alcohol, foods or drinks that contain caffeine (such as coffee, sodas or chocolate), fatty foods and foods that contain a lot of acid. Another suggestion is to raise the head of your bed approximately six inches, for example with blocks of wood. Sleeping on your left side should also help somewhat if heartburn is a problem for you.
Sleep apnea is a condition involving disrupted breathing where an individual can stop breathing all together for anywhere from ten to sixty second intervals many times throughout the course of a night (some people experience it hundred of times as they sleep). Left untreated, this sleep disorder can become very serious and lead to such health problems as heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure. Interestingly enough the majority of people who suffer from sleep apnea are not aware that they have a problem. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include headaches and chronic tiredness throughout the day and loud snoring.
Arthritis is a health woe that can contribute to a sleep disorder. A considerable amount of pain and stiffness is associated with this disease, which can make it difficult for a person to get comfortable in bed and to both fall and stay asleep. Many arthritis sufferers commonly experience sleep related problems. In order to remedy this problem, engaging in a regular exercise plan (even if it is only walking) and taking pain relieving medication can help in making the joints of the body more mobile and thus bring about a certain amount of relief.
Leg disorders such as restless leg syndrome (RLS) and developing cramps (such as the ‘oh so painful’ charley horse) at night are no fun and can cause problems with having a restful sleep. Pains in the legs are a common problem among many age groups but particularly among senior citizens.
Older adults can sometimes find it more difficult to sleep due to changes that occur to sleep hormones in the body as they age. Research into hormones has found that the process of aging causes an imbalance in the hormones that are responsible in part for the quality of sleep we all receive. This might explain why sleeping disorders are so widespread with older adults.
It is well known that both caffeine and nicotine are two drugs that cause problems with sleep patterns. However many other kinds of medication have been shown to bring on insomnia. Some of these meds include prescription diet pills and any other drugs that list amphetamine as a main ingredient, antidepressants, antihypertensive medications, oral contraceptives, beta blockers, steroids, bronchodilating drugs, nasal decongestants and tranquilizers. Substance abuse of any kind can result in the development of a sleep disorder. Studies have proven that approximately fifteen percent of people who are plagued by chronic insomnia also abuse alcohol, sedatives or cocaine.