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10 sleep patterns that signal you should see a doctor

Taking action early can prevent potential health complications and help you get the restful sleep you need to function at your best

Man sleeping on a pillow

Sleep is a vital component of our overall health and well-being. However, not all sleep is created equal, and certain sleep patterns can signal underlying health issues that may require medical attention.

Here are some concerning sleep patterns that should prompt you to see a doctor:

Insomnia is characterised by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

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While occasional sleepless nights are normal, chronic insomnia, which persists for more than three nights a week over three months, can severely impact your quality of life.

If you find yourself lying awake for hours or waking up frequently during the night, it’s time to consult a doctor.

Feeling excessively sleepy during the day despite getting an adequate amount of sleep at night can be a red flag.

This could indicate sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy. If you often find yourself dozing off during meetings, while driving, or in other inappropriate situations, seek medical advice.

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Occasional snoring is common, but loud, chronic snoring accompanied by choking or gasping sounds can be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA is a serious condition where the airway becomes blocked during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing. This not only disrupts sleep but also increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.

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Restless Leg Syndrome causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually due to uncomfortable sensations.

This often occurs in the evening or during periods of rest, making it difficult to fall asleep. If you experience these symptoms frequently, it could be a sign of RLS and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Parasomnias are disruptive sleep disorders that include sleepwalking, night terrors, and REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD).

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These conditions cause unusual movements or behaviours during sleep, such as walking around or acting out dreams.

If you or a loved one experiences these behaviour, it's important to seek medical evaluation.

If you have difficulty staying awake at night and find yourself falling asleep very early, you might be suffering from advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD). T

his condition is often seen in older adults and can lead to waking up very early in the morning. ASPD can disrupt your daily life and should be addressed by a sleep specialist.

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Hypersomnia involves excessive sleepiness and prolonged sleep periods, often exceeding 10 hours a night, but still feeling unrefreshed.

This can be a symptom of various conditions, including depression, thyroid problems, or neurological disorders. If you consistently sleep more than necessary and still feel tired, it’s time to see a doctor.

Waking up with shortness of breath or feeling like you're choking can be a sign of sleep apnea or other respiratory issues.

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This can significantly disrupt your sleep and lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.

Occasional nightmares are normal, but frequent, intense nightmares or night terrors can indicate stress, anxiety, or other underlying mental health conditions.

If these disturbances are affecting your sleep quality and daily life, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional.

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Sudden and significant changes in your sleep patterns, such as sleeping much more or less than usual, can be a sign of a medical condition or mental health issue.

Any drastic shift in your sleep habits warrants a discussion with a doctor to rule out any serious problems.

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