Sleep-Wake Disorders: How to Identify and Cope without Sleeping

March 02, 2017

Learn how to identify, manage, and cope with sleep-wake disorders before they control you and your ability to function!

Recall the moments when you spent countless hours staring at the ceiling while lying on your bed. You are just hoping to fall asleep soon. You begin to experience anxiety, frustration, and uncontrollable racing thoughts. You look at the clock and realize you only have a few hours until you must get out of bed and get ready for work. What should you do about this lack of sleep? Prescription medications and over-the-counter sleep aids are not working for you.

On the other hand, you are struggling as a full time parent and full time employee at your job. You have been reprimanded countless times from your boss about falling asleep during meetings. You have passed out while watching your children leading your spouse to not trusting you when alone with them. What should you do about this uncontrollable reaction to falling asleep numerous times daily? Caffeine, loud music, and all other legal stimulants are not working for you.

Read the following specific diagnoses to help you or someone you love identify what type of sleeping patterns occur as well as how to manage these symptoms.

sleep-wake disorders
sleep-wake disorders
  1. Insomnia– constant trouble falling or staying asleep, some nights can be good while others are bad. Stay clear from all stimulants, avoid eating too late, try a relaxing activity such as reading, avoid napping to maintain regular sleep-wake pattern, place a notepad next to your bed in case you want to write down your thoughts and give yourself permission to deal with it the next day.
  2. Hypersomnolence– excessive sleepiness, difficult waking from a long sleep and tendencies to nap repeatedly each day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine at late hours. Attempt to regulate your sleep schedule by avoiding late night activities, provide yourself with a buffer of time that allows your brain to rest before bed.
  3. Breathing-related– Obstructive sleep Apnea hypopnea, Central sleep apnea, or Sleep-related hypoventilation
  4. Circadian Rhythm– this occurs when a person’s sleep cycle is not of sync and the biological clock is disrupted. There could be one of the following diagnoses: sleep phase syndrome, irregular sleep-wake type, or non-24-hour sleep-wake type. Try to avoid stress and sleep deprivation by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. Use your bed only for sleep and control your sleep environment: amount of darkness, quietness, and temperature especially for irregular shift workers.
  5. Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior– the first REM behavior disorder is called “sleepwalking” aka somnambulism. This appears to the observer that the person is awake while engaging in activities, however this person has no recollection. Advice for this condition involves preventing any injuries from occurring, and gently guiding that person back to his or her bed. The other common form of REM behaviors is known as nightmare disorder. This is classified as a person who acts out dreams mostly involving screaming, or kicking, or even jumping out of bed. When awake the person can fully recall the nightmares. This tends to occur during rapid eye movement sleep in the early morning hours. Advice for coping with symptoms is to maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule and daily exercise. Alleviate nightmares causing stress with yoga, meditation, or other forms of holistic approaches. Avoid any substances that can remain in your system for more than 12 hours that will disrupt your sleep.
  6. Restless legs Syndrome– maintain medications both prescribed or nonprescribed as directed. Have your blood tested for iron levels and kidney function. Maintain a regulated exercise routine. Try heating, icing, or massaging your arms and legs to manage symptoms. Stretch your legs every morning and night and soak your legs in hot water. Discontinue smoking, caffeine, and alcohol. Avoid heavy meals before bed.
  7. Narcolepsy– take your medications as prescribed, and avoid smoking, drugs, or alcohol. Maintain a regular exercise routine and a precise sleeping schedule, including no more than 30-minute naps at the same time each day. Tell your family, friends, and everyone else about your condition to maintain awareness and support.

Every person can benefit from seeking out counseling services or support groups to focus on coping with their condition and managing their symptoms.

If you or loved one is suffering from a sleeping disorder, be sure to share these strategies on how to identify and manage symptoms.

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For more information on receiving help on Sleep-Wake Disorders or other related topics, check out the Resources Page.