Insomnia, difficulty sleeping through the night, heavy snoring and the Restless Legs Syndrome are the most common sleep disorders.
Not all sleep problems necessarily end in a sleep disorder. Most people sleep better and sometimes not so well.
However, if you lie awake regularly when you actually want to sleep, you may be suspected of developing a sleeping disorder.
If your sleep problems persist without a clearly identifiable cause, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. The first point of contact is your family doctor.
Under no circumstances should you be fobbed off with a prescription for sleeping pills at the surgery. Sleeping pills are often the shortest route to sleep disturbance.
Find a doctor who will take the time to advise you. In many places you will find doctors who specialize in sleep medicine. Your health insurance company can also help you find a doctor with experience in sleep medicine.
Circulation of sleep disorders
Persistent sleep problems sometimes lead to a cycle of sleep disturbances that becomes increasingly severe.
Brooding at night or an irregular sleep rhythm, for example, promotes problems falling asleep and sleeping through the night, which leads to tiredness and reduced performance.
Tired and exhausted, we easily come under pressure, feel irritated or over strained. Anger or stress, on the other hand, promotes nightly brooding, problems falling asleep or an irregular sleep rhythm.
The entry into the cycle of sleep disorders usually goes unnoticed. A regular sleep rhythm, sleep rituals or relaxation techniques help to avoid the cycle of sleep disorders or to get out of the cycle.
However, this is usually only possible at an early stage of sleep disorders. If sleep disorders persist, medical and/or psychological help is advisable.
Causes of sleep disorders
Sleep disorders can have many causes. Women often experience sleep disorders during the menopause, for example – or during pregnancy. Teenagers often sleep badly during puberty.
In these cases hormonal changes cause the sleep disorders. A thyroid dysfunction or numerous other diseases also cause sleep disorders, as do many medications.
Therefore, other possible causes of sleep problems should be excluded before a targeted treatment of sleep disorders.
Diagnosis of sleep disorders
If self-help with a regular sleep rhythm, sleep rituals and other sleep-promoting measures do not lead to a good sleep, you should consult a doctor.
The earlier a diagnosis is made, the easier it is to treat sleep disorders. The treatment of sleep disorders is often much easier than many people think.
Sleeping pills should only play a minor role in the treatment of sleep disorders and should always be used as briefly as possible.
A continuation of the outpatient medical diagnosis can be carried out as an inpatient in a so-called sleep laboratory.
On these sleep medical wards, sleep is usually monitored for two nights with numerous sensors.
For example, an EEG is recorded to monitor the course of the sleep phases and the nightly activity of the brain. The sleep laboratory can often provide further clues for the treatment of sleep disorders.
Therapy of sleep disorders
A combination of medication (if not dispensable) and behavioral therapy training has proven effective in treating sleep disorders. So-called sleep training is mainly about overcoming negative thoughts and experiences staying cool while sleeping and finding a regular sleep rhythm.
Frequent sleep disorders
Insomnia, difficulty sleeping through the night, sleep apnea with heavy snoring, and the restless legs syndrome (restless legs) are the most common reasons for disturbed sleep.
But other diseases also influence sleep. Typical examples are depression, cardiovascular diseases and menopausal complaints.
Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep and sleeping through
Doctors refer to sleep disorders as insomnia. This includes various forms of insomnia and insomnia of falling asleep.
Primary insomnias are all sleep disorders where there is no apparent reason for the sleep problems. In the case of secondary insomnia, however, there are clear triggers for insomnia:
- Diseases of the cardiovascular system, hormonal dysfunctions, cancer, pain or rheumatism, psychological or neurological diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, dementia or neuroses
- Noise, light or shift work and jet lag
- Misuse or side effects of medication
- Drugs and alcohol.