Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Problems

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

It is usually easy to detect signs and symptoms of sleep problems, but we are going to go into depth with some of the more prevalent ones. It is suggested to find the cause of your sleep disruptions, and then seek help to correct it to ensure you have a blissful nights’ sleep.


Snoring is the result of vibrations that cause particles in the air to make noise. For instance, our vocal cords form our voice via vibrations, and also when we experience a growling in a stomach (known as “borborygmus”); it is a vibration of the intestines as food and air pass through.

In essence, snoring is the noise that is the result of turbulent airflow that causes the nose and throat tissues to vibrate.

No one is immune to snoring, it can happen to anyone, but studies have shown that men snore 45% and only about 30% of women snore on a regular basis.

There are many natural remedies to alleviate* snoring, but it can also be an underlying symptom to a serious medical condition. Speak to your health care professional to rule out any serious medical issues, like sleep apnea.

Pauses in Breathing While Sleeping

Sleep apnea is a very dangerous sleep disorder that can cause an individual to have (up to) 50 or more episodes during one evening. Some commons symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Swollen legs
  • Night sweats
  • Excessive tossing and turning during the night
  • Always feeling tired
  • Snoring (note: all sleep apnea patients’ snore, but not all snoring is due to sleep apnea)

Waking Up not Feeling Refreshed

You seem to be sleeping well, but you constantly wake up feeling unrefreshed and unrested, perhaps CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is the root of this problem. There is not one treatment that will work for everyone, but listed below are a few treatments that have been proven* to ease* the symptoms of CFS patients.

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) focuses on changing the way a person thinks and reacts to life’s situations
  • Non-prescription pain killers may elevate* some minor joint pain associated with CFS
  • Exercise (especially GET – Graded Exercise Therapy) is a program that is structured and observed to gradually increase* physical exercise/activity
  • Balancing rest with activity is important to dealing with this CFS. This ensures that you do not push yourself beyond your physical limitation, but allows for a slow and gradual increase* of active periods of time

Drowsiness in the Daytime/Sitting Quietly

Feeling very tired during the day can be a symptom of a sleep disorder known as Hypersomnia or Somnolence.

To effectively treat* daytime drowsiness, you first need to identify the cause (such as stress, boredom, anxiety, etc.) and deal with this underlying cause.

Problems Falling Asleep

If you are having problems falling asleep (anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours), you may have an insomnia. This can be triggered by anxiety, worry and/or stress. Other symptoms of insomnia including waking up unrested, not sleeping through the night and feeling very tired and sleepy during the day.

Waking Up Often During the Night

Waking up many times during the night can be caused by:

  • Noise: Sudden noises such as a door slamming, phone ringing or the snoring of a bed mate can awaken you from a restful sleep. Wearing ear plugs may help eliminate* some of these distractions
  • Depression, worry, and excitement may also keep you awake
  • Light: Black out drapes or an eye mask may alleviate* this problem
  • Alcohol consumption can cause a disruption in your sleep cycle (even if you are not awoken)
  • Medications: Certain medications can certainly cause sleep disruptions during the night. Included in this list would be medications for asthma and hormone replacement. Speak to your health care professional about alternative treatments if you suspect that your current medication is causing you to have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep
  • An old, lumpy mattress is a complaint of many that are not getting a good night’s sleep. A mattress should be replaced every 10 years
  • Temperature of your bedroom should be “cool”, not too cold or too hot for a comfortable night’s sleep
  • Low Blood Sugar: If you wake up at similar times each night, low blood sugar may be the cause. Besides having blood work done to confirm, have small low carb snack before you head off to sleep
  • Magnesium deficiency can also be a cause of insomnia. Barley, almonds, spinach and tomatoes are all natural sources of magnesium
  • Tryptophan is a vital amino acid that your body needs to produce* serotonin (a chemical that assists to achieve a positive, restorative sleep). Tryptophan is naturally found in milk, fish, turkey, and eggs. Vitamin B6 is also required to effectively make this conversion from tryptophan to serotonin

Waking Up too Early/not Able to Return to Sleep

Worry is one of the top reasons that a person has disrupted sleep. It may help to write all your worries down, and not think about or deal with them until after you get some restful and restorative sleep. Trust me; they will still be there in the morning.

In addition, you may want to try some deep breathing exercises to help you to return to REM sleep. Once your breathing is calm and relaxed, use some “mental imagery” to transform yourself to a place of peace and quiet (such as lying on a beach, sailing on a placid lake or wherever your favorite place is). You might find that you are drifting off to peaceful slumber in no time.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Individuals that suffer with RLS (restless leg syndrome) have sensations that they feel “pins and needles” are in their legs (and sometimes their arms). Symptoms vary in degrees, but usually get worse when a person is laying still.


As you have just read, there are many signs and symptoms of sleep problems/disorders. It is best to make your health care professional aware of the issues, so you can discuss how to treat* the problems.