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Sleep Medicine

Sleep Difficulty

Sleep is essential to health. Chronic sleep disorders have been linked in recent years to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer and high blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 70 million U.S. adults are at risk. A sleep problem can affect your overall health, safety and quality of life. Sleep deprivation can affect your ability to drive safely and increase your risk of other health problems.

There are many different types of sleep disorders. They’re often grouped into categories that explain why they happen or how they affect you. Sleep disorders can also be grouped according to behaviors, problems with your natural sleep-wake cycles, breathing problems, difficulty sleeping or how sleepy you feel during the day.

Some common types of sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia, in which you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Sleep apnea, in which you experience abnormal patterns in breathing while you are asleep. There are several types of sleep apnea.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS), a type of sleep movement disorder. Restless legs syndrome, also called Willis-Ekbom disease, causes an uncomfortable sensation and an urge to move the legs while you try to fall asleep.
  • Narcolepsy, a condition characterized by extreme sleepiness during the day and falling asleep suddenly during the day.


Symptoms of sleep disorders include being very sleepy during the daytime and having trouble falling asleep at night. Other symptoms are breathing in an unusual pattern or feeling an uncomfortable urge to move while you sleep.

Factors that May Cause Sleep Difficulty

Old age. People over age 60 may not sleep as deeply as younger people. Sleep apnea is also more common among older people.

Lifestyle. People who drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol are more likely to have sleep problems than people who do not.

Medication. Many drugs can cause sleeplessness. Others can cause daytime fatigue.

Depression and anxiety. Insomnia is a common symptom of depression and anxiety.

Heart failure and lung problems. Some people find it difficult to sleep at night because they become breathless when they lie down. This can be a symptom of heart failure or a problem with the lungs.

Tips for Helping you Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

  • Avoid naps during the day.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, well-ventilated and cool. The ideal sleep temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Avoid certain foods that might cause sweating (such as spicy foods) especially right before bedtime.
  • Exercise daily; avoid vigorous exercise 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine throughout the entire day.
  • Do not go to bed until you are tired.
  • Do not watch television, eat, or read in bed.
  • Follow the same bedtime routine each night.
  • Try warm milk, chamomile tea or tart cherry juice. Each has different chemicals that may stimulate sleep.
  • Avoid using sleeping pills.
When to see a Doctor

Doctors can usually treat most sleep disorders effectively once they’re correctly diagnosed.  You don’t have to struggle with sleepless nights. There are treatment options available, ranging from behavioral therapy to the use of prescription medication or both. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment for you. Book your appointment online to schedule a visit with a CareMount Medical primary care provider.