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Sleep Disorders

Q: What is a sleep disorder?

Sleep disorder is characterised by a disruptive sleep pattern that may include difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviour associated with sleep e.g. sleepwalking. To qualify for the diagnosis of a sleep disorder, the condition must have persisted for at least one month, caused significant emotional distress for the individual, and interfered with his social or occupational functioning. Sleep disorders increase the risk of someone developing high blood pressure, heart disease and mood problems.

Sleep Problems

Q: What are the symptoms of sleep disorders?

The symptoms of a sleep disorder depend on the specific type of sleep disorder. Common symptoms include feeling sleepy or irritable during the day, difficulty staying awake while sitting, difficulty concentrating at work, home or school, falling asleep while driving, others telling you often you look tired, slowed reaction, memory problems, emotional outbursts, a feeling that you need to nap every day, needing caffeinated drinks to make it through the day and snoring.

Q: I think I may have a sleep disorder. What can I do?

If you think you have a sleep disorder, you can introduce a few self-help measures to improve things. These include keeping a sleep diary and improving your sleep hygiene and daytime habits. A sleep diary can help you keep track of your sleep pattern and identify factors that may be contributing to your sleep problems. Your sleep diary should include the time you went to bed and woke up, total sleep hours and perceived quality of sleep, a record of the time you spent awake and what you did (e.g. “got up, had a glass of milk”, “stayed in bed with eyes closed”), types and amount of food, liquids, caffeine, or alcohol you consumed before bed, times of consumption, your feelings and mood before bed (e.g. stress, anxiety, low mood) and medications or drugs taken including time of consumption and dose. After a week or two, the diary can reveal how certain behaviours may have affected your chance of having a good night’s sleep. If your sleep problems persist in spite of your self-help remedies, you should consult your GP or sleep specialist.

Q: What is sleep hygiene? How can I improve mine?

Sleep hygiene is about paying attention to daytime habits and controlling certain factors that can affect our sleep.

Some tips are:
•  Have a routine bed time and wake up time every day.
•  Keep your bed and bedroom comfortable. The room should not be too cold or hot, or too bright.
•  Get some exercise preferably in late afternoon or early evening.
•  Avoid doing heavy exercise before going to bed.
•  Avoid consuming coffee, tea, nicotine or alcohol in the few hours before your bedtime as they will interrupt your sleep.
•  Avoid a large meal before bed time.
•  Avoid watching television, listening to radio or reading in bed as this may interfere with sleep.

Spend some time relaxing and try muscle relaxation, a warm bath or a milky drink to help you unwind before bed.

Related Brochure:

Sleep Hygiene

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