Getting enough quality sleep is extremely important for both physical and mental health. However, many people struggle with various sleep disorders and disturbances that prevent them from getting the rest they need. This article will examine some of the most prevalent sleep problems that people face, along with tips for overcoming them.


Insomnia is one of the most widespread sleep disorders. It involves having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. There are two main types of insomnia:

  • Acute Insomnia: This refers to insomnia that lasts only a few days or weeks, often brought on by a stressful event or changes in sleep habits.
  • Chronic Insomnia: This refers to ongoing, long-term insomnia that occurs at least three nights a week for three months or longer.

Tips for overcoming insomnia:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends.
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes or less.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine, like taking a bath, reading, or light stretches.
  • Use the bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.
  • Consider using a white noise machine or app to block disruptive sounds.

If insomnia persists for over three months, consult a doctor or sleep specialist. Medication or cognitive behavioral therapy may help with chronic insomnia.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses or decreases in breathing during sleep. This reduces oxygen levels and repeatedly awakens the brain throughout the night, resulting in poor sleep quality. There are two types:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Caused by blockage of the airways, often due to relaxation of throat muscles. It is more common.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: Caused by a dysfunction in brain signaling that controls breathing. This is less common.

Tips for overcoming sleep apnea:

  • Try sleeping on your side instead of back to keep airways open. You can elevate the head of your bed slightly too.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Excess fat around the neck can obstruct breathing.
  • Avoid alcohol and sedatives before bed, as these can relax throat muscles.
  • Stop smoking, as this can worsen apnea.
  • Use a snoring tracker app to record snoring sounds and monitor your sleep quality to determine if sleep apnea is likely.
  • Consider a CPAP machine prescribed by a doctor to deliver air pressure through a face mask to keep airways open.
  • Certain oral appliances provided by dentists may help open airways.

In severe cases, surgery can be done to remove excess tissue obstructing airways.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) involves an irresistible urge to move the legs due to uncomfortable sensations. Symptoms are worse at night and can significantly disrupt sleep.

Tips for minimizing restless leg syndrome:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine which can worsen RLS symptoms.
  • Take warm baths, engage in light exercise, or massage legs before bed to reduce symptoms.
  • Establish a calming pre-bedtime routine to relax the body and mind.
  • Limit the use of electronics before bed, as the bright lights and stimulation can trigger RLS symptoms.
  • Take magnesium or iron supplements, as deficiencies in these minerals may contribute to RLS.
  • Try over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen to alleviate discomfort. Use them sparingly.

For chronic RLS, ask a doctor about prescription medications such as dopamine agonists or anticonvulsants.

Difficulty sleeping affects a large portion of the population. Fortunately, various relaxation techniques, lifestyle and dietary changes, supplements, and medical devices/therapy exist to help overcome many common sleep disturbances like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs, and circadian misalignment. Consult a doctor if problems persist.