We all have trouble sleeping or staying awake at one time or another. But if you are not getting enough quality sleep or if your problems with sleeping interfere with your health or daily life, you may consider speaking to a doctor or a sleep specialist.

Some signs and symptoms that you may have a sleeping disorder include:

  • ongoing or frequent difficulty sleeping
  • snoring
  • gasping and/or interruptions in breathing while sleeping
  • waking frequently in the night to urinate
  • waking in the morning still feeling exhausted
  • feeling tired during the day despite a "good night's sleep"
  • inability to function and go about your daily activities
  • dozing off while engaged in sedentary activities, like reading or watching television
  • daily need to nap
  • falling asleep while driving
  • having a hard time concentrating or paying attention
  • having memory difficulties
  • having slowed responses
  • changes in mood

If you experience any of these, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will ask you about your sleep patterns, so it may be helpful to keep a sleep diary for a week or so before your appointment. Record what time you went to sleep, when you woke up in the morning and if you felt refreshed, how many times you woke up during the night, and for how long you were awake. Also record what you ate and drank from dinner until bedtime.

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may order some blood tests to check for any underlying medical cause for your sleeping problems. Your doctor may also refer you to a sleep lab to help determine what is causing your sleep issues. In the meantime though, practice good sleep hygiene to help improve your sleep.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team