How Do You Know If You Have A Sleep Problem? Are There Long Term Consequences?

We spend one third of our lives sleeping, or at least lying in bed trying to sleep. Fatigue and complaints of feeling tired are a common topic of conversation, especially as adults.

How do you know if you have a sleep problem that needs to be addressed by a doctor?

Sleepy, tired woman with eyes closed
  • If it's regularly taking you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. Taking up to 30 minutes to fall asleep is normal. Anything more and you may have a sleep problem.

  • If you awaken at night and it's taking an1-2 hours to fall back asleep.

  • If you are waking early for no apparent reason and unable to return to sleep.

  • You awaken at night gasping or someone has observed you pausing in your breathing at night.

  • Your sleep issues have been going on for more than 3 months.

  • You fall asleep in the middle of activities.

  • You regularly have daytime sleepiness. Daytime sleepiness in the afternoon, especially after eating is normal, sleepiness throughout the day regularly is not.

  • You need caffeine to feel fully awake in the morning and throughout the day.

  • You have unusual work shifts, or have had them in the past and have not settled into a good sleep/wake routine.

There is a long list of reasons for low quality or lack of sleep. Some of these are:

  • Insufficient sleep

  • Poor Sleep hygiene

  • Environmental sleep disturbance

  • Insomnia

  • Sleep Breathing Disorders

  • Sleep Related Movement Disorders

  • Circadian Rhythm Disorder

  • Hypersomnia/Parasomnia

A consistent decrease in sleep is linked to illnesses such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, depression, and overall decreased quality of life. Due to these health risks sleep issues are a valid concern. Occasional insomnia or sleepiness is normal. If you have sleep related difficulties on a regular basis you should see your health care provider about it.