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I can't sleep! Common sleep problems, and how to get back to sleep!

Updated on March 29, 2014

Health issues reported from sleep problems

When you can't sleep, it's not only a nuisance, but it also hurts your health in various ways
When you can't sleep, it's not only a nuisance, but it also hurts your health in various ways | Source

What would classify a major sleep disorder?

How can you determine a bad nights sleep from a major sleep disorder? It's actually pretty easy. Missing a nights sleep because of stress or a big life event is normal and actually natural. But when you have sleep issues that last for 1 or more months, you may be suffering from something bigger.

Within today's society our levels and quality of sleep have majorly declined. We are busier then ever, despite technology hyped up to make our lives quicker and easier, they keep us up. We have job and financial related issues, family complexities, health ailments or issues, and endless responsibilities. It's no surprise that your average human being is going to lose a few hours of sleep from time to time.

But when you find yourself losing sleep or having to much of it for weeks or months on end, it's time to consider other causes that are not as basic as everyday life stessors, and formulate plan to get back to sleep.

Following are the most common sleep problems, usual causes, and how you can get the treatment you need.

Natural helpers for better sleep

Having a quick one or two night loss of sleep can usually be stopped with these suggestions. Natural remedies can improve a bout of short term dysfunctional sleep disturbances.

  • Stretching and exercise
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Massage
  • Calming essential oils
  • Long hot baths
  • Melatonin supplements
  • 5HTP
  • Change your diet
  • Try a light OTC sleep aide

Hemi Sync and binaural beats

What helps sleep apnea?

  • Sleep mouth guards
  • Diet and lifestyle changes, lose excess weight ASAP!
  • Sleep on your side and prop up your head
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Limit consumption of nicotine, caffeine, or other stimulants
  • Keep your nasal passages clear
  • CPAP machines
  • Oxygen tanks
  • Provent or Snorepin-ask your doctor about this to see if it is right for you

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a very common sleep disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. These pauses can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and usually occur 40 or more times in one hour! A person with sleep apnea may choke or make odd grunting, snorting, or gagging sounds as their breathing attempts to return to normal during the course of their sleep cycle. This is typically an ongoing condition, that causes someone to avoid obtaining adequate sleep, or it disrupts their sleep enough that they no longer get the restorative sleep their bodies need. The sleep debt increases, causing fatigue, poor concentration, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

There are no tests that can provide a concrete diagnosis of this condition. No blood work, and doctors often misdiagnose it all-together. Most people are unaware they even have it, unless a family member or significant other takes notice of symptoms. During sleep apnea, airways collapse and become blocked during sleep, this is the cause of shallow breathing, or disruption of proper breathing. Sleep apnea is more common in males, people that are over-weight, smokers, those over 65, those with excessive tissue or adenoids, and people with enlarged tonsils.

What helps insomnia

  • Stress management
  • Avoiding stimulants and other drugs (including caffeine and nicotine)
  • Practicing good sleep habits
  • Over the counter sleep medications or Melatonin

When insomnia lasts longer than a month, you should see your doctor to rule out other health conditions.


Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Sometimes it only lasts a few days, or a few weeks, other times it can last months or years.

There are two types of insomnia.

  • Primary insomnia: this is when a person has sleep problems that are not directly related with any other health condition or problem. Usually the problem resolves on its own within a short period of time.
  • Secondary insomnia: this is when a person is having sleep problems because of external factors, various health conditions, asthma, cancer, even heart burn. Or they are taking medications; and or abusing substances. Treatment or lifestyle changes are usually in order to return to normal sleeping patterns.

What causes insomnia of either type?

  • Unknown diagnoses
  • Chronic pain, or illness
  • Stress (good or bad)
  • Stimulant drugs, or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Working the graveyard shift
  • Jet lag

What are the symptoms?

  • Poor concentration and memory function
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Depersonalization

What will help sleepwalking?

  • Dietary changes
  • Avoiding sedatives and other medications, especially Ambien and Lunesta
  • Stress reduction
  • Good sleep practices
  • Benzodiazapines like Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax can sometimes be beneficial

Sleep walking, eating, and other odd behaviors

People with sleep disorders can do all sorts of strange things in their sleep. This includes sleep eating, walking, pursuing sex, and violence. Although most sleep walking is rare, it does occur.

Somnambulism, is the technical term used for sleep walking and other strange behaviors during sleep. Often people can accomplish complex tasks while sleep walking, such as driving a car, moving heavy objects, strolling out of their homes, even having sex. It is most likely to occur in children, or those that are greatly sleep deprived. Because sleep walking occurs in deep sleep, often people will not remember an episode, or will be difficult to arouse from sleep. Sleep walking can be scary to the walker, and to their family and loved ones. It is estimated that only 1%-15% of people sleep walk, and does not mean someone is suffering from psychological problems.

Common causes

  • Many times causes are completely unknown
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Drug use-sedatives, alcohol consumption
  • Febrile illness, infections, and bacteria within the body
  • Heredity

Can you sleep?

Have you ever suffered from a sleep disorder?

See results

© 2013 Rebecca


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    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 4 years ago from USA

      Denise, I'm glad to hear you did not have sleep apnea. I've read a lot about it, and I'm thankful I have not had that issue. For my issues, I've tried everything, pillows, blackout blinds, fans, vitamins, exercise, melatonin, 5htp, benzo's, tranquilizers, and I've noticed the only things that work are benzo's as needed, and major stress reduction. Last night is a good example....I had 2 hours of sleep. blah! I have a good mix of sleepwalking and insomnia. I am jealous when I see a baby sleeping!!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Recently, I was having issues getting enough sleep and thought that I might have a sleep disorder. My husband has sleep apnea, and he underwent a sleep study at a sleep clinic where they monitored what happened with his lungs and heart while he slept. I went to a specialist and had the same kind of study. Fortunately, although I stopped breathing some, it was not severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of apnea or the need of a breathing machine. I found that my issues were more anxiety and situation related. I had been overly concerned with several things in my life, and had not been getting enough sleep. Now that things have resolved themselves, I am sleeping much better. It is amazing how much difference a good nights rest can be!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Sleep issues can be a problem but with this useful hub it sounds a simple way to solve sleeping time

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 4 years ago from USA

      thank you. I am generally speaking from experience. I have been a sleep walker since 12 years old. I'm now 34. I do have to take prescription meds for it. I wish this wasn't the case. Thanks for reading this and for your feedback. I hope you are getting the sleep you need now :)

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Now almost 80, I've had problems sleeping most of my life. This includes sleepwalking and simply not being able to go to sleep or stay asleep. I've always worked, exercised, and done the usual things to help with this problem. I found your article extremely interesting ... lots of good information. Thanks for writing!