A survey by Consumer Reports finds nearly 70% of Americans struggle with falling asleep at least once a week. There could be various reasons why people have a hard time sleeping.
Looking to get some zzz’s, but having a hard time falling asleep? Before you chalk it up to insomnia, you may want to check to see if it might be something else.
“It’s very important to rule out other sleep disorders as some sleep disorders can mimic insomnia,” explained Dr. Lourdes DelRosso, a sleep physician with Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.
One of those is restless leg syndrome.
“You have this sensation in your legs that you really need to move your legs. It can prolong it for up to an hour,” DelRosso said.
Even though there’s no cure for restless leg syndrome, avoiding caffeine, getting plenty of exercise and warm baths and massages can relax your leg muscles. Another thing that can mimic insomnia is a delay in your circadian clock.
“Usually, adolescents, teenagers, naturally start having a delayed sleep cycle,” DelRosso said.
It can result in excessive daytime sleepiness. To lessen the effects of that, keep a consistent wake-up time that doesn’t vary more than two hours even on the weekends.
Finally, if you are feeling tired during the day, it could be sleep apnea. Sleep apnea could put you at greater risk for a stroke and heart attack. It’s estimated that 85-90% of people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it.
Inform your doctor if you experience snoring, daytime sleepiness or mood changes. This could help you get the right diagnosis to catch some quality zzz’s.
Having jet lag can also make you have difficulty falling asleep. A very low dose of one to three milligrams of melatonin taken two hours before bedtime can ease the symptoms of jet lag.