Why Can't I Sleep? A Guide to Common Sleep Disorders

woman experiencing common sleep disorders

Getting enough restful and restorative sleep is essential to our ability to function each day. Experts recommend the average adult get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, many adults struggle to achieve this and suffer from the resulting sleep deprivation, which can have a negative impact on their overall health.

So, why can’t I sleep? 

If you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Millions of people live with sleep disorders, but the key is learning how to manage them. In this guide, we’re looking at common sleep disorders, what they are, and a few treatment options that may prove beneficial. Before beginning any new health routine, consult your doctor for guidance and to ensure it’s safe for you to do so.

What Are Sleep Disorders?

Before we dive into identifying and treating sleep disorders you may experience, what are they? Simply put, sleep disorders are any conditions that impair your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up feeling rested. While there are techniques and tips for how to get more restorative sleep, some common sleep disorders may not be as easily managed by turning off screen time an hour or two before bed.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 50-70 million adults1 in the US are living with sleep disorders while 1 in 3 does not get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation may increase your risk for negative health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. Fortunately, there are many natural methods for treating sleep disorders, making slight adjustments to your lifestyle and routine potentially effective for managing symptoms.

What Causes Sleep Disorders?

There are many different causes of common sleep disorders. Oftentimes, a medical professional will run tests like a sleep study and examine your medical history, sleep history, and possibly complete a physical exam. Some of the potential sleep disorder causes include:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Mental health disorders
  • Overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Being overweight
  • Having an irregular sleep schedule (i.e. working nights)

It’s also well-documented that we run a higher risk of developing a sleep disorder as we get older. Older individuals commonly spend less time in the deeper stages of the sleep cycle, possibly resulting in a lack of restful or restorative sleep.

Symptoms of Common Sleep Disorders

How might you know if you’re experiencing a sleep disorder? While each person is different, there are some symptoms that are often associated with the inability to achieve quality sleep. These symptoms of common sleep disorders include:

  • Inability to fall asleep: Taking 30 minutes or longer to fall asleep each night.
  • Waking up repeatedly: Waking up multiple times throughout the night, having trouble falling back asleep, or waking too early each morning.
  • Snoring: A possible sleep disorder in itself, snoring is most commonly a symptom of other conditions like sleep apnea. It can lead to disrupted sleep for you or a partner while having potentially serious negative health results.
  • Falling asleep during the day: Feeling unable to stay awake throughout the day without a nap is often indicative of common sleep disorders.
  • Uncomfortable bodily sensations: Sensations like “pins and needles” or other tingling feelings in your extremities while trying to fall asleep are common sleep disorder symptoms.
  • Body spasms while asleep: Jerking around suddenly while asleep may be a sign of poor sleep quality or a sleep disorder.

While this list is not exhaustive, it represents the broad spectrum of the symptoms of common sleep disorders. Treating sleep disorders may help manage these symptoms, giving you a better night’s sleep, improving your overall health, and helping you be ready to take on each day.

Common Sleep Disorders and Treatment Options

Experiencing symptoms of common sleep disorders doesn’t have to be something you simply live with and endure. In fact, there are numerous methods for treating sleep disorders you can integrate into your daily routine without much trouble. These small changes could have a noticeable impact, however, and reduce your risk for serious health complications.

There are over 80 identified sleep disorders stemming from both internal and external stimuli. Some of the most common sleep disorders are:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insufficient sleep syndrome
  • Circadian rhythm disorders
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
  • Narcolepsy

Let’s take a look at each of these as well as methods for treating sleep disorders that may help along the way.

1. Insomnia

As one of the most well-known common sleep disorders, insomnia is identified as the inability to fall asleep, a struggle to stay asleep, or poor sleep quality resulting in impaired daytime function despite having had the potential for a full night’s rest.

Causes of insomnia range from elevated stress levels and sudden changes to your environment to underlying serious health conditions. While anyone of any age can experience insomnia (both short-term and chronic), it is frequently developed more often by women as they get older.

There are a number of natural ways to treat insomnia. Some of these include changes to your daily diet, practicing stress relief aids like meditation, or trying light therapy to help you sleep at night. Another tool people have begun to turn to is a zero gravity chair for insomnia. The perfect conduit for various insomnia treatment methods, zero gravity chairs also help deepen your relaxation, enhance how the body heals itself, and may boost your overall ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

2. Sleep Apnea

Next up on our list of common sleep disorders is sleep apnea. Often characterized by snoring, sleep apnea is the obstruction of the airways as you sleep, causing you to temporarily or periodically stop breathing properly. As you can expect, this presents a wide variety of potential health risks including elevated chances of a heart attack or stroke.

Some of the causes of sleep apnea include a narrow airway in the throat, being overweight, alcohol consumption, smoking, and more. It is more commonly found in males, but can be experienced by anyone of any sex or age.

A few natural methods for how to treat sleep apnea that you might consider trying are:

  • Exercising and being active
  • Changing to side sleep positions in a bed
  • Cutting out alcohol and smoking
  • Strengthening upper airway muscles with breathing exercises

One of the biggest methods for treating sleep disorders like sleep apnea, however, is sitting or sleeping in a reclined position. Many people have turned to zero gravity chairs for how to treat sleep apnea to combine multiple treatment methods. The zero gravity position is the most important catalyst of these as it keeps the upper body slightly elevated to keep airways open as you sleep.

3. Insufficient Sleep Syndrome

Insufficient sleep syndrome is more than just being tired, it’s a disorder that leads to chronic sleep deprivation. Recognized as part of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders2, insufficient sleep syndrome is differentiated from insomnia as a lack of sleep from behavioral choices rather than an inability to fall asleep. This means the causes of insufficient sleep syndrome may stem from having too busy a schedule and not prioritizing sleep on a regular basis.

This may be one of the easier ways of treating sleep disorders on our list. The most efficient thing to do is to prioritize sleep and ensure you’re getting the recommended amount each night. A great way to make this happen is by starting a night time routine that helps you unwind and prepare for sleep. Going to bed at the same time, relaxing in your favorite chair, and disconnecting from electronics are all methods for this common sleep disorder that is effectively self-induced.

4. Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Next up as we continue our look into common sleep disorders are circadian rhythm disorders. These are sleep issues caused by our schedules that impede our ability to get restful sleep.

A prime example of the cause of these types of sleep disorders is working night shifts. The human body is meant to follow a natural circadian rhythm wherein we are awake during the day and sleep at night. Night shift work or other schedules that cause us to veer off that pattern can be disruptive to our ability to get restorative, restful sleep.

While you may not be able to adjust your work schedule, adding tools to help you sleep when it’s time is the best place to start. For example, blackout curtains or sleep masks may help eliminate sunlight pollution in your bedroom as you try to fall asleep. Other tools like zero gravity chairs may help you unwind and prepare your mind and body to fall asleep beforehand, making it an effective tool for sleep preparation, as well.

5. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

While we’re including it as one of the most common sleep disorders on our list, restless legs syndrome (RLS) is actually a neurological disorder. Its negative impact on sleep is a byproduct, however, making it a direct correlation. Affecting an estimated 10% of the United States  population3, RLS causes uncomfortable or uncontrollable sensations that may result in the urge to move around. Symptoms of restless legs syndrome are most often at their worst at night, causing it to impede sleep.

Practicing good sleep hygiene, exercising, and avoiding caffeine are all possible ways for treating sleep disorders like RLS. Many people have also found massage and heat therapy features of luxury zero gravity chairs to be beneficial and help them achieve better sleep quality.

6. Narcolepsy

Last up on our list of common sleep disorders is narcolepsy. Identified as the inability to stay alert and focused during the day due to drowsiness, people living with narcolepsy may struggle to stay awake for long periods of time. The causes of narcolepsy depend on which type you have (Type 1 or Type 2) but are most commonly associated with the brain or injuries.

Some of the ways to help treat symptoms of narcolepsy include taking short, planned naps as you’re able. This can help you achieve better rest and renewed energy to carry out the rest of your day without a problem. Once more, zero gravity chairs may be beneficial for treating narcolepsy as smart wake up programs help you achieve all the benefits of adult naps without accidentally oversleeping, which could impede your natural circadian rhythm. 

Common sleep disorders are experienced by millions of people each year. Consult your doctor and learn about treating sleep disorders to start getting the rest you need and wake up feeling restored. Even the smallest changes may make a world of difference.

Zero gravity chairs are beneficial for treating sleep disorders as well as providing health benefits to people of all ages. Compare these zero gravity chairs and see which one is best for you.

Additional Resources:

  1. https://www.sleephealth.org/sleep-health/the-state-of-sleephealth-in-america/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4881480/
  3. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/restless-legs-syndrome