Have you been suffering from sleep problems for months (or maybe even years), unsure if it’s a serious issue or just something you’ve blown out of proportion in your head? You’re not alone! Knowing when to see a sleep specialist can be a tough decision.
Would it shock you to know that sleep disturbances are fairly common among Australian adults? 33-45% of Australians report experiencing poor sleep and the accompanying daytime side effects. That’s equivalent to 4 out of every 10 Australians! (1)(2)
If you’re worried there may be nothing wrong and seeing a sleep specialist could be a waste of your time and money, I encourage you to check out these 5 signs you suffer from sleep problems and should see a sleep specialist.
Poor sleep can cause serious side effects, especially the longer it continues. Sleep is essential to healthy bodily functioning and poor sleep will continue to disrupt your life unless you do something to stop it!
5 Signs That Tell You When to See A Sleep Specialist
Poor sleep is qualified as ‘insomnia’ when you have trouble staying asleep, falling asleep and even just feeling rested after sleeping. Another key indicator of insomnia is that the sleep disturbance occurs at least 3 times per week and lasts longer than a month in duration. If you have insomnia, you are also very likely to experience daytime symptoms related to your poor sleep. (3)
If you’re experiencing these signs of insomnia, you should see a sleep specialist.
Have you thought snoring was harmless all this time? Well, in reality, it CAN be, but it can also be a sign of a more serious sleep issue.
Consistent, loud snoring is one of the trademark signs of sleep apnoea, a sleep disorder in which your breathing stops and starts periodically while you sleep. Gasping for air during sleep is also common. The compounding of the night after night of poor sleep can lead to problems with focus, memory, and physical and mental health. (4)
Being a little extra exhausted during the day is expected if you’ve had a busier week than usual or if there’s been something else going on that’s required more of your time, attention, and energy than usual.
However, constantly feeling as if you’re going to doze off or falling asleep in the daytime regularly could point to EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness) and possibly even narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy, an often undiagnosed sleep disorder, can cause you to experience poor sleep quality with lots of interruptions. You may feel somewhat rested when you wake up, but it doesn’t take long for you to get tired again. It’s important to be aware that narcolepsy is always accompanied by EDS and even loss of muscle control, sleep paralysis, and abnormal REM sleep patterns. (5)(6)(7)
If you’ve noticed an impulse to move certain body parts accompanied by uncomfortable/odd sensations (especially the legs), restless leg syndrome may be the culprit of your poor sleep.
The movements and sensations that accompany restless leg syndrome usually follow a pattern and flare up during restful periods- like when sitting, laying down, or sleeping. Continual movement often eases or relieves the symptoms entirely. (8)
Taking a nap the day after a night of poor sleep is completely reasonable, but nodding off on your drive to work or snoozing in the middle of dinner is not something to be taken lightly.
Choosing to ignore the reality of the situation and the worsening of your symptoms will only cause more damage in the long run, further affecting your daily life and the way you feel physically and mentally.
If you’ve decided it’s time to go see a sleep specialist, good for you! Make sure to prepare in advance for your appointment to ensure all your questions get answered and all your concerns are addressed.
Here are a few quick and easy ways to prepare for your appointment:
- Keep a sleep diary where you record your sleep patterns and all the juicy details (including but not limited to: how long it took you to fall asleep, how long you slept, how many times you woke up, and how you feel upon waking)
- Make a list of your medications. You’d be surprised how many medications can cause unwanted side effects like sleep problems. Plus, if your specialist needs to prescribe you something, they need to be aware of the medication(s) you’re already taking to avoid unpleasant interactions.
- Write down all your questions over the course of the days preceding your appointment to avoid forgetting anything.
At your appointment, the sleep specialist may ask questions that relate to when your symptoms first started, what was going on around that time, and other questions related to your medical history. A physical exam is routine at these first-time appointments and then the specialist will provide you with their recommendation(s) for moving forward.
Depending on what they think is causing your sleep problems, they may recommend anything from lifestyle modification to medication or maybe even a sleep study.
Figuring out when it’s time to see a sleep specialist is no doubt a hard decision, but hopefully, this article provides the encouragement and information you need to get started in this new direction.
As you navigate treatment, consider the strategic use of supplements to help further improve your sleep quality and quantity. Deep Sleep Mode is an original Happy Mammoth product formulated to help you achieve 8 hours of perfect sleep—every night (even if you've had terrible sleep issues for years)!
Whatever may be the cause of your sleep problems, a sleep specialist can help you talk through the issue, do diagnostic testing, and guide you as you journey through the treatment process.