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Dear Sleep Deprived ‒ You’re Not Alone

Written by: Lana Walsh, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you wake up feeling rested and ready for the day, or do you have to drag yourself to the coffee pot in hopes the caffeine will perk you up?

If you’re having trouble getting up in the morning, perhaps you’re like almost half the US population that has one of these sleep disorders.


Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting between 10-30% of people, and depending on where you live, you may have more trouble than others getting enough sleep each night.

New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Finland seem to get the most sleep, while Japan and South Korea get the least.

Insomnia is often misunderstood and underdiagnosed. The simplest definition is taking an hour or more to go to sleep or go back to sleep after waking during the night or waking an hour or more before you want to in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep.

Insomnia can come and go depending on what’s going on in your life, but it can become a chronic and problematic issue if it is occurring three or more times per week and has been going on for more than a few months.

Treatment options for short-term insomnia include prescription medications, supplements, and following good sleep hygiene habits. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi) has been proven to be the most effective treatment for chronic insomnia.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition where you stop and start breathing repeatedly while you sleep. This affects about a quarter of people with a sleep disorder. There are three kinds of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is where the muscles of the throat relax.

  • Central sleep apnea is where your brain doesn’t send the right signals to breathe.

  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome where both types are occurring simultaneously.

The main symptoms of sleep apnea include dry mouth, snoring, waking up feeling tired even if you slept through the night, waking up gasping for air, and especially if your loved ones tell you that you stop breathing when you sleep.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of certain medical conditions like high blood pressure or heart problems, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and complications with surgery or medications.

Treatment often includes some kind of airway pressure device, but can also include dental appliances, treatment of other complicating medical conditions, and supplemental oxygen.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

This is the third most common sleep disorder. RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is an uncontrollable urge to move the legs and when you try to control the movement, you get pain or uncomfortable sensations. This sensation is explained differently and has been described as itching, tingling, creepy-crawly, or burning.

The pain and restlessness get worse with fatigue, or after an extended period of inactivity (such as traveling by plane), and typically occurs at night. Although the feeling is hard to define, it is consistently reported that the sensations are eased by moving.

Because the symptoms appear mainly at night after extended periods of inactivity, it can make you more restless and prone to waking while sleeping.

Treatment options include taking prescription medications or vitamins like calcium and magnesium that help to relax the muscles. Some self-care options like hot baths, massage, exercise, and avoiding caffeine can also be helpful.


Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, involves engaging in activities normally done while awake during sleep. Sleepwalking is more common in children but can occur in adults and may be caused by another sleep disorder or medical condition.

Sleepwalking can involve someone sitting up in bed with eyes open, being glassy-eyed and unresponsive, being difficult to wake up, or being disoriented after waking. They can also engage in normal activities like getting dressed, driving, eating, or having conversations.

Generally, sleepwalking is not concerning unless it occurs frequently, leads to dangerous behavior, or disrupts your sleep.

Treatment includes dealing with any underlying causes, ensuring the space is safe, waking the person before an episode usually begins, walking the person back to bed, and getting enough sleep.


This sleep disorder is characterized by excessive sleepiness and suddenly falling asleep. You may also experience a sudden loss of muscle tone, also known as cataplexy, sleep paralysis, or hallucinations.

Narcolepsy can be very dangerous if, for example, you suddenly fall asleep while driving or while doing something that could cause bodily harm if you suddenly lost consciousness, like cooking over a hot stove.

Narcolepsy is not curable, but it can be treated with medication and by following proper sleep hygiene like sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding nicotine and alcohol, and getting some exercise. It’s also recommended to take naps and get support from the people around you by having frank conversations to prevent any misunderstandings about how it affects your life and work.

Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is the opposite of insomnia where you are excessively tired during the day even after a long, quality night of sleep. Often you will have trouble waking up and feel like you need to sleep throughout the day. Naps do not generally make you feel better.

It is not very common, and the cause is unknown making it difficult to diagnose and treat. Diagnosis often means ruling out all other sleep disorders and treatment involves easing symptoms.

If you think you might have one of these sleep disorders, please consult your doctor. There is nothing worse than waking up feeling like you never slept at all.

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Lana Walsh, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lana Walsh is a Sleep Coach who helps people overcome insomnia so that they wake up feeling rested and refreshed. After a decade of dealing with undiagnosed restless leg syndrome (RLS), Lana developed chronic insomnia. For 30 years, she struggled to find the answer to her sleep, trying “literally everything” without relief. When Lana was introduced to the stress-busting process of emotional freedom techniques (EFT, AKA tapping), she started sleeping better. Determined to continue this path, she began researching sleep where she finally found the answer to fixing her insomnia. She is passionate about sharing the secrets to overcoming insomnia and helping people get the same results that have transformed her life. Lana is a co-author of the Amazon Bestseller, "Creating Impact, The Ultimate Guide for Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs," Founder of "Upgrade Your Sleep: A Powerful Method to Overcoming Sleeplessness," registered CBT-i coach, and Conscious EFT Level 1-2 practitioner.



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