It’s no secret that sleep is one of the most important aspects of our health. Lack of sleep can not only leave you feeling tired, but it can significantly affect your memory, immune system, and physical and mental health. Many people suffer from sleep disorders, which only continue to negatively impact your quality of life when they are left untreated. But everyone has trouble sleeping now and then, so how do you know when to worry? Some sleep disorders can be harder to spot than others, so we’ve outlined what you need to know to be able to tell if you need a sleep study.
What is a Sleep Disorder?
A sleep disorder is a condition that significantly changes and impairs your sleep habits, leading to chronic fatigue and exhaustion. There are many different types of sleep disorders, but some of the most common types are:
- Insomnia - This condition makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Sleep apnea - This results in abnormal breathing patterns during sleep.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS) - This condition causes discomfort and the urge to move the legs while you are trying to fall asleep.
- Narcolepsy - This causes extreme sleepiness during the day, often to the point of falling asleep very suddenly.
If you are having trouble sleeping or struggling with tiredness during the day, you should speak with your primary care doctor to rule out other sources for your symptoms. Based on your feedback and your primary care office’s notes, a sleep disorder specialist can then help to diagnose and treat your sleep disturbances, often using a sleep study to test for sleep disorders.
What is a Sleep Study?
If you are having trouble sleeping, a sleep study can allow doctors to test for different sleep disorders. Some sleep disorders are harder to discover than others, as many symptoms can be brushed off as the result of a restless night. Some signs that you are having trouble sleeping include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- An inability to focus during the day.
- Irritability and daytime fatigue.
- Frequent headaches.
- Waking up too early or waking up throughout the night.
- Taking several hours to fall asleep.
A sleep study is a sophisticated test that monitors and records your body’s vitals and functions while you’re asleep. They are non-invasive and record things such as brain activity, oxygen levels, heart rate, and eye and leg movements. Sleep disorders are often identified by characteristics and physical symptoms that are only present while you are asleep, so a sleep study is ideal for an accurate diagnosis.
How Do I Know If I Need a Sleep Study?
Experiencing sleep difficulties from time to time doesn’t always mean you have a sleep disorder. People can become so busy that they throw off their sleep schedule, or experience stressful or traumatic situations that cause temporary sleep issues. But, you should watch for signs that indicate a sleeping disorder rather than a temporary issue. These signs include:
- Regularly experiencing difficulty sleeping.
- Often feeling tired during the day even when you have slept at least seven hours the night before.
- Sudden difficulty with memory.
- Slowed responses during conversations.
- Reports from partners, family, or friends that you snore loudly and/or sometimes seem to stop breathing.
- Exhaustion or drowsiness affects your ability to watch TV, read, work, or engage with others.
- Experiencing a reduced or impaired ability to perform regular activities.
- Feeling the need to take naps nearly every day.
- Struggling to manage your emotions and increased irritability.
- One or more instances of falling asleep while driving.
If you experience symptoms like these, you should see your doctor to evaluate the medical causes of your sleep difficulty. Getting quality sleep is essential to helping you function properly and enjoy your daily life. If you are experiencing insomnia or other sleep difficulties, Premier Medical Associates offers sleep disorder treatment for you to get a good night’s rest and live a healthy life.
Premier Medical Associates is an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network and is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our highly experienced care team provides services like insomnia disorder treatment and primary care for you and your loved one’s needs. If you would like more information, please follow up with your primary care physician.