Little Sleep Problems that Aren't So Little

We all have occasional sleep problems. Some of us wake up throughout the night, while others make frequent trips to the bathroom. Perhaps if you don't get to sleep early enough, you're too tired the next day. Or maybe you spend so much time tossing and turning at night that you don't get a proper night of sleep.

Whatever it may be, you need to realize that these "little sleep problems" may not be as little as you might think! Here are a few sleep problems you'd do well to heed before they become a serious threat to your health:

Nightmares wake you up

Do you have regular nightmare of being unable to breathe, drowning, or being suffocated? You may wake up gasping for air, but once you realize it's just a nightmare, you drift off to sleep. This may not be a small problem, just so you know! When you hit that REM sleep (the part of sleep where you dream), the muscles in your throat may relax to the point that your airway closes. You wake up gasping because you aren't getting any oxygen. The dream is just your mind's way of telling you that you're not breathing. This may be obstructive sleep apnea, and it's definitely something to get checked out at a sleep clinic. It can lead to A LOT of more serious health problems if you're not careful.

You don't sleep through the night

Perhaps you feel the need to toss and turn, or you have to constantly adjust your sleeping position. To a certain extent, this is normal, but too much tossing and turning can be a sign that something is wrong. Your brain may tell you to turn over when it cannot get enough oxygen, a common problem with sleep apnea sufferers. If you occasionally wake up gasping for breath or wake with a jolt, it could be a sign that it's sleep apnea that is causing your poor sleep. A healthy person is able to sleep through the night, only occasionally waking up to turn over. Tossing and turning is NOT a good thing!

You grind your teeth

This is a lot more common than you might think! People who are over-stressed often grind their teeth during the night. The stress reduces the quality of your sleep, causing you to wake up throughout the night. Every time you wake up, you clench your jaw--a subconscious action. Your jaw may remain clenched even after you are asleep, and you end up grinding your teeth all night long. Deal with that stress before it damages your teeth!

Your head aches in the morning

Morning migraines are often a sign of apnea. Irregular breathing (caused by apnea) causes an insufficiency in oxygen throughout the night, as well as an excess of carbon dioxide. This excess gas can cause your head to ache! If you sleep with your face covered, it may be another cause of the headache--called a "turtle headache". The blanket over your face traps the carbon dioxide, causing you to inhale more than is good for your poor aching head!

You do things you can't recall

Has your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner laughed at the things you've done or said in your sleep? If you can't remember them, you may have one of the parasomnia disorders. This could lead to sleep walking, sleep eating, sleep driving, and possibly even sleep "sexing". If you do or say a lot of things that you can't remember, it's definitely not something to ignore! Get checked out at a sleep clinic today.

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