Sleep and Physical Health

Having a good nights sleep is important and helps your overall health and well-being. When you can’t sleep well, sometimes the cause is a medical problem. Other times, sleep disorders can lead to health problems. Sleep helps boost the body’s immune responses.


Is a health problem causing your problems sleeping?

Some medical conditions that can lead to or worsen sleeping issues include:


Hyperactive bladder or enlarged prostate Women and men with hyperactive bladders, or men with enlarged prostates often have to get up during the night to urinate. These frequent awakenings interrupt sleep.


Heartburn is caused by acid reflux and can cause you to wake up during the night. If you have burning pains in your lower chest or dry coughing fits, you may have heartburn.


Pain If you experience chronic pain from a medical condition, like arthritis, cancer or headaches, then you can have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night.


Asthma causes your airways to become inflamed and often gets worse at night. If you have Asthma, you may be waking up and not realizing it.


Fibromyalgia People with fibromyalgia experience chronic pain. They often have trouble sleeping and may feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.


Heart Failure If you have congestive heart failure, you have a much greater risk of having a sleep disorder. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is common in people with congestive heart failure. You may have CSA if you:

  • Stop breathing during sleep
  • Wake up out of breath
  • Have a headache in the morning

There are a variety of treatments for CSA. Your health care provider can determine if you have CSA and which treatment is right for you.


Parkinson’s Disease People with Parkinson’s disease often have problems sleeping. You may have trouble falling and staying asleep or have involuntary movements at night. People with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to have REM Behaviour Disorder, or RBD. RBD occurs when people act out their dreams while they are sleeping. People with RBD may injure themselves or their bed partners.


Chronic Kidney Disease People with chronic kidney disease experience sleep problems at a high rate. Chronic kidney disease can cause pain or anxiety that can result in difficulty falling or staying asleep. You may have an iron deficiency that can lead to the sleep disorder Restless Legs Syndrome.


Talk to your health care provider if you are unable to get a good night’s sleep. Your health care provider can assess if a medical problem is affecting your sleep. Your sleep can often be improved by treating your medical problem.


Is a sleep disorder causing my health problem?

Some disorders can cause or make a health problem worse.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, is a common sleep disorder. If you have OSA, it means that your airway collapses part of all of the way while you are sleeping. Air can’t get to your lungs, resulting in lack of oxygen. Your brain wakes your body, so you can start breathing again. Frequent awakenings at night are linked to excessive sleepiness during the day. The lack of oxygen and frequent night awakenings negatively affect your health.


Signs of OSA include:

  • Loud or frequent snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness or tiredness
  • Choking or gasping while you sleep


It is important to talk with your health care provider if you think that you might have OSA. The most common treatment for OSA is Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy. Studies show that PAP therapy can lead to a longer life for people with OSA. There are also other treatments for OSA, including oral appliances, surgery, or lifestyle changes.


If untreated, OSA is associated with many health problems.


Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Untreated OSA may lead to high blood pressure. If you have OSA, medication may not be enough to improve high blood pressure. PAP therapy can help decrease high blood pressure.


Untreated OSA is also associated with:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Diabetes


Many medical conditions and sleep disorders can negatively affect your sleep, but there are many treatments that can help.


If you think you have a sleep disorder or other medical conditions affecting your sleep, talk with your health care provider.


SOURCE: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine-


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