search buttonmobile navigation expand button

Sleep Symptoms

How you perform during the day is related to how much sleep you get on regular basis. Impairment of daily routine functioning, difficulty initiating or maintaining prolonged sleep, or experiencing daily non-restorative sleep for at least one month may be a signal of a sleep disorder. Some of the more common symptoms of sleep disorders in adults include:

  • Frequently having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling un-refreshed after sleep 
  • Snoring loudly, stopping breathing or gasping for breath during sleep 
  • Excessive sleepiness and feeling irritable, or depressed during the day 
  • Unpleasant, tingling, creeping feelings or nervousness in the legs when trying to sleep 
  • Difficulty staying awake while driving Reliance on caffeinated beverages to make it through the day 
  • Frequent memory lapses or difficulty concentrating, or slow response reaction 
  • Feeling the need for a daily nap 
  • Others frequently comment on how tired you look 
  • Difficulty staying awake while sitting (i.e. watching television, reading a book) 
  • Difficulty concentrating at work, school, or home 

Sleep deprivation is a serious health condition. It is important to evaluate the possible causes of sleep disorder symptoms and find a solution. Left untreated sleep disorders and the lack of quality sleep may contribute to hypertension, heart disease and obesity, and ultimately reduce life span. Make an appointment with a sleep specialist at McLaren Health Care.

Sleep Disorders

Drive Alert. Arrive Alive.

Drive Alert. Arrive Alive.

How many times have you been driving, and just for a moment, nodded off? The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 1.5% of all car crashes are related to driver sleepiness. The National Sleep Foundation concurs: About one million car crashes annually are thought to be the result of driver inattention. Sleep deprivation and fatigue encourage lapses in driving attentively.

Who's at risk?

  • Anyone who feels fatigued or is not well-rested.
  • Those who drive long distances without breaks.
  • Those who drive during periods when they are normally asleep.
  • Those who drive alone.
  • Those who drive on long stretches of highway or rural roads.
  • Young people who tend to stay up late, sleep less, and drive at night.
  • Shift workers, particularly those who work at night, or who have a regular change in shifts.
  • Commercial truck drivers who often drive at night when the body is ready for sleep.
  • Individuals with undiagnosed sleep disorders, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.

What should the drowsy driver do?

  • Look for warning signs of fatigue: wandering across lanes, yawning, trouble keeping one's eyes open, jerking your vehicle back into the lane.
  • Don't count on the radio, an open window, or coffee to keep you awake.
  • Pull off into a safe area away from traffic and take a brief nap (15-45 minutes). Do so as soon as you notice signs of fatigue because a microsleep can occur at any time.

How to prepare for a road trip without fatigue?

  • Get a good night's sleep -- generally eight hours.
  • Plan to drive long trips with a companion so you can switch drivers. Passengers should stay awake to help keep the driver awake.
  • Schedule regular stops -- every 100 miles or two hours.
  • Avoid alcohol, over-the-counter and prescribed medications that may make one drowsy.
  • If you have trouble staying awake, even following these suggestions, talk to your family doctor about feeling drowsy while driving.

Credit: National Sleep Foundation

Back to the top

Healthy Sleep

What's the Fuss About? I Catch Enough ZZZZZs!

Really! Do you know why you need sleep? Sleep is as important as good nutrition and exercise for quality health, mental and emotional function, and safety. Sleep researchers have found people with chronic insomnia are more likely to develop several kinds of psychiatric problems and more likely to use healthcare services. People who have sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder, are likely to have high blood pressure and feel sleepy during the day.

Lack of adequate sleep is linked to lower productivity and mood changes. Sleep deprivation contributes to:

  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating;
  • Handling minor irritations;
  • Accomplishing daily tasks without error;
  • Impaired ability to perform tasks involving memory, learning and logical reasoning;
  • Absenteeism at work;
  • A greater likelihood of taking short naps at work -- lost productivity due to sleepiness is estimated to cost the national economy $100 billion annually;
  • The National Highway Safety Administration estimates more than 100,000 crashes each year are fatigue-related. This is a particular concern for drivers 25 and younger.

All Sleep Is Not the Same

Normal sleepers alternate between Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is the deepest sleep period, when you dream, and experience a high level of mental and physical activity. During REM sleep, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are similar to that when you are awake. A balance of non-REM sleep and REM sleep results in awaking, feeling restored and well-rested.

Good Sleep Hygiene

  • Set a fixed sleep period of eight hours, and stick with that sleep period weekdays and weekends.
  • Make your sleep environment inviting -- comfortable, dark and quiet. Don't use your bed for anything but sleep and sex.
  • Don't nap during the day -- you will have difficulty sticking to your sleep regimen at night.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the evening -- they are all stimulants and can prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.
  • Exercise regularly, but do so at least three hours before bedtime, so your body has a chance to cool down.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing routine that lets you unwind and prepare for sleep.
  • If you can't sleep after 30 minutes, get up and listen to soothing music or read until you feel sleepy.

When to Ask for Help

If sleep problems persist for more than a week, or interfere with your daily function, talk to your family physician about your sleep experiences. Keeping a week's diary of your sleep habits, and how much sleep you are getting can be helpful in examining sleep problems. Your diary should include:

  • The date, and the time you went to bed and the time you woke up.
  • Did you wake up during the night? Were you able to get back to sleep?
  • What was the sleep environment like?
  • What activities did you do three hours prior to bedtime?
  • Was it difficult to get up? Did you feel sleepy during the day? What time of day and for how long?
  • Are there any physical or emotional stresses that might be affecting your ability to sleep?


Back to the top

How Much Sleep is Enough

Despite peoples' claims that they're "short sleepers," requiring very little, studies show that's true for only about 1 in 1,000 people. Adults need between seven-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half hours a night -- about 56 hours in any given seven-day period. Kids need more.

There's an easy way to find out what your personal sleep quotient is. Begin by working backwards. Tally the hours of sleep you've had for the past seven days and subtract 56 from the total. A negative number means you're running below empty.

With busy lives, it's not always possible to stick to a strict sleep schedule."Sleeping in some on weekends will help reduce your sleep debt. In an 'emergency', she notes, a 10-minute power nap, squeezed in between activities that requires clear thinking and concentration will likely improve mental and physical performance. A nap, note sleep experts, that goes beyond 20 or 30 minutes has diminishing returns.

The value of REM Sleep

The kind of sleep we get is important, too. During REM (rapid eye movement or dreaming) sleep, helps the mind repair and regenerate itself, so we can concentrate, stay safe, and make good decisions by day. As the night progresses, each period of REM sleep increases in duration -- the longest period, lasting about an hour, typically occurs between the seventh and eighth hour of sleep. So the "six-hour sleeper," for example, is deprived of one of the richest, most valuable sleep stages.

REM (rapid eye movement) sleep affects a lot of our awake time.  People deprived of REM sleep are more angry, depressed, and moody. Another stage of sleep affects pain threshold. When we don't get enough--¿slow-wave sleep,' we feel more pain and are going to use the health care system more.

Only recently have we learn sleep adds to health

It's only been in recent years that sleep and its importance to overall health and well-being have entered the mainstream.

Back to the top

Jet Lag

Whether you fly, ride by rail, or travel by car, your body's natural biological clock will need adjustment as you cross one or more time zones. When traveling to a different time zone, our body's biological clock remains on its usual schedule for at least a day or more. So, if we arrive at our destination time zone in the middle of the afternoon, we want to stay awake, even though our body's clock is now at 9 p.m.

Some tips for overcoming "jet lag" --

  • Try to pick a flight that has you arriving in early evening. Stay up until 10 p.m. local time and arise at your regular time the next day.
  • Anticipate time changes by getting up and going to bed earlier (when headed eastward) or later (when headed westward).
  • When you depart, change your watch to the time zone of your destination.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine four hours before bedtime. As stimulants, they prevent sleep.
  • Try to get outside in the sunlight. Daylight helps to regulate your biological clock.


Back to the top


What's Makes Us Yawn

Our bodies cause us to yawn to draw in oxygen and remove a build-up of carbon dioxide. People do tend to yawn when sleepy. The truth is we don't know why we yawn. Yawning is triggered in some area of the brain still not discovered. We don't know why yawning seems to be contagious. Cats, dogs, other mammals, and fish yawn, leading some to believe yawning is a form of communication. What we know for sure is yawning is subject to the power of suggestion. So, if you feel the need to yawn, pass it on!


Back to the top