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When a sleep disorder harms your sleep...

The information below is drawn from various online and print sources including WebMD, and we believe it to be accurate. The information is not an overview of treatment for particular conditions. Rather, it's a compilation of sleep recommendations for those afflicted with the indicated medical conditions. Please always consult your physician for personal guidance with your condition.

Image of man who can't sleep because of medical condition.


  • The most prevalent sleep disorder.Image of man who can't sleep because of medical condition.
  • In the United States, it affects close to 60% of adults at least one night a week.
  • Symptoms include: Difficulty falling asleep and waking too early.
  • Causes may include stress or an underlying medical condition.
  • For mild cases of insomnia, good sleep habits can often resolve the problem.

Acid Reflux / Heartburn / GERD

  • Eat your last meal several hours before going to bed. No late-night snacking.
  • Sleep at an inclined position with your head higher than your stomach. This is achieved by putting 4-5 inch blocks under the head of your bed. Do not use lots of pillows as this may only increase the pressure on your stomach. However, a wedge pillow that rests your body at an incline is fine.
  • For daytime naps sleep in a recliner.
  • Sleep on your left side; studies show that sleeping on your right side worsens heartburn.
  • Sleep with loose bedclothes.


  • Use a sleep diary. Keep detailed notes of how you prepared to sleep, how you slept, how you woke up, and how you spent your day. Eventually, you will see patterns and may be able to determine "triggers" that interfere with your sleep. Once these triggers are identified, you can eliminate them.
  • Only sleep enough to be refreshed. Oversleeping or spending too much time in bed seems to correlate with fragmented and shallow sleep.
  • Set a regular wake up time and stick with it. This will lead to regular bedtimes and better sleep. You will also get a clearer picture of how much sleep you really need each night.
  • Relax before bed. This can be whatever calms and soothes you: a warm bath, listening to soothing music, quietly reading (but not in bed), etc.
  • Exercise earlier in the day. Avoid exercising one to three hours before bedtime, but do exercise.
  • Exercise will help you have a deeper REM sleep.
  • Sound-proof your bedroom as much as possible. You may not realize that outside noises are waking you up in the middle of the night. You just don't remember. So try to ensure your room is as quiet as possible. Use or install double-pane windows, thick drapes, carpeting, and anything else that will help absorb noise.
  • Sleep in a cool room. Warm rooms disturb sleep.
  • Sleep in a dark room. Your bed is for sleeping. It's not for watching television, reading, or working on your laptop. You need to associate your bed with sleeping.
  • Skip daytime naps. If you must nap, limit it to less than 30-minutes.
  • Don't go to bed on an empty stomach. If you're stomach is growling, you're going to wake up. Have a light snack, if necessary, before going to bed.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or chocolate before bedtime. Stimulants disturb sleep. Also avoid spicy foods and drinks before bedtime as they can cause heartburn. You might also have to go to the bathroom more often. That combination can make for a night of insomnia.
  • Sleep on a good mattress and pillow. The right mattress and pillow will improve your comfort and give your body proper support. The right mattress and pillow can reduce insomnia and even relieve your fibromyalgia symptoms, such as fibromyalgia pain. See if you need a new mattress.


  • Do not sleep on your stomach. You will strain your spine.
  • If you like to sleep on your side... place your arms in front straight out or folded. Curl your body forward just enough to give you balance and make you comfortable. If you curl your body too much it will be awkward for your spine.
  • If you like to lie on your back... lie flat in a straight line. Let your arms rest flat at your sides. Elevate your knees with a pillow. You might also want a pillow under your legs and feet. It is bad for the spine if you don't elevate your legs or knees. If this is uncomfortable, then sleep on your side.
  • Always sleep on a firm mattress.


  • Occurs because of vibrations of respiratory structures during sleep.
  • The noise may be soft or loud.
  • Solutions include: losing weight, cutting down on smoking and alcohol, sleeping on side instead of on your back
  • Over-the-counter treatment: nasal strips to place over your nose before going to bed.

Sleep Apnea

  • Avoid alcohol and medications such as tranquilizers or sleeping pills. These interfere with breathing by relaxing the muscles in the back of your throat.
  • Don't sleep on your back. Sleep on your side or stomach. If you sleep on your back, your tongue and soft palate might rest against the back of your throat causing your airway to become blocked. To help you not roll over on your back in your sleep, try sewing a tennis ball in the back of your pajama top.
  • Switch positions from your side to stomach throughout the night to promote regular breathing.


  • Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological sleep disorder that afflicts about 250,000 Americans.
  • Usually symptoms begin in adolescence.
  • Its symptoms are bouts of extreme sleepiness during the daytime.
  • Those affected by the disorder may fall asleep throughout the day for brief periods. It may only last a few seconds to several minutes. Sometimes it may last to an hour or more.
  • Some people afflicted with narcolepsy will fall asleep unexpectedly, even while talking or while driving a car.
  • Narcolepsy may also be accompanied by cataplexy - a sudden loss of muscle tone and control for seconds or minutes.
  • Hallucinations and paralysis during sleep are also symptoms of narcolepsy.

Must Read - Facts about Sleep Deprivation

  • Most likely, you spend between 50 and 60 hours a week in your bed. Probably, that's more time than you spend at your job!
  • Your sleeping hours are critically important. They are the foundation of your day!
  • Sleep well and you awake completely rejuvenated. Ready to conquer your day. But sleep poorly, and you unleash havoc on your day ... and your life! We're not exaggerating.
  • Today, research demonstrates that sleep deprivation is dangerous, and it affects over 25% of all Americans.
  • Inadequate sleep does not allow your body to repair and restore your physical and mental capacities.
  • The repair and restoration theory holds that NREM (non rapid eye movement) sleep is key to restoring body functions, while deeper REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is key to restoring mental functions. Research has found that while sleeping, your body increases its rate of cell division and protein synthesis, strongly suggesting that repair and restoration does happen while you sleep.
  • The obvious effects of sleep deprivation are fatigue and sluggishness. When you are sleep deprived, you are less productive.
  • In fact, studies show that if you get a good night's sleep and work less hours, you will accomplish more than if you get a poor night's sleep and work more hours.
  • This is because sleep deprivation causes a chemical imbalance in your brain, leading to muddled thinking and slower reflexes. No wonder you make more mistakes when you're sleep deprived!
  • The Information Consolidation Theory of Sleep helps to explain the role that sleep plays with respect to cognitive abilities. This theory is based on cognitive research and suggests that when you sleep it helps to process information you have acquired during the day. Sleep deprivation studies showed that subjects, who had been sleep-deprived, were unable to recall and remember information.
  • Sleep also helps your brain to prepare for the day ahead. Some research indicates that sleep helps to solidify information learned during the day, helping it to go into long-term memory.
  • Driving while sleep deprived is worse than driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In 2007, more than100,000 accidents were caused due to sleep deprivation, while driving under the influence caused just over 15,000.
  • Sleep deprivation weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. To make matters worse, it also lengthens the time it takes to recover when you are ill.
  • Lack of sleep also causes depression and an inability to wisely deal with your emotions. This, in turn, hinders you from good problem-solving and leading a happier life. Think about it ... if you're tired and depressed, you just won't enjoy your normal everyday activities.
  • You could find yourself moody and irritable. You are likely to get angry with loved ones for no good reason. Face it, when you're sleep deprived, you're no fun to be around.
  • You might even think something worse is wrong, when all you really need is to sleep well on a regular basis.
  • And don't forget, a good night's sleep is important for your children, too!

We all know that children today are increasingly obese. Well, recent research shows that sleep deprivation may be a contributor to weight gain and the obesity epidemic. This is because lack of sleep disrupts a number of hormonal and metabolic processes. Even a partial deprivation of sleep can lead to increased appetite.

Besides weight gain, recent studies have shown that students in high school and college who sleep well in quantity and quality do much better with their studies and grades.

You and your family's sleep solutions should begin by practicing good sleep habits (see below) and purchasing the right mattresses for your whole family!

Image of Woman Who Can't Get Enough Sleep