We all know the importance of a good night of sleep. To sleep is an essential part of our daily life and sleeping problems can make you tired, depressed, frustrated and irritable. Yet, sleeping problems can be even more severe for stroke survivors, affecting both the rehabilitation process and – more importantly – increasing the risk of having another stroke.
Rehabilitation after a stroke is hard by itself and requires much from the patient. As progress cannot be assessed on a daily basis the success of a physiotherapy program depends heavily on the patient’s concentration, motivation and energy. In other words, it doesn’t combine well with sleeping disorders. Luckily, sleeping disorders – if properly diagnosed – can often be managed easily.
The most common sleeping disorder among stroke survivors is Sleep-disordered breathing, were abnormal breathing patterns is causing your sleep to be interrupted several times during the night. It is particularly important to be aware of signs of sleep-disordered breathing as it, in addition to sleepiness, increases blood pressure, heart stress and blood clotting. Typical symptoms include:
- Loud snoring
- Frequently waking up gasping for breath
- Increased sweating
- Breath shortness
- Inability to fall asleep or remain asleep
Another typical disorder experienced by stroke survivors is Sleep-wake cycle disorders (circadian disturbances) resulting from a sleep schedule no longer determined by day and night. Common symptoms are:
- Difficulty initiating and/ or maintaining sleep
- Non-restorative sleep
- Daytime sleepiness, poor concentration and headaches
- Impaired performance, including a decrease in cognitive skills
- Poor psycho-motor coordination
- Gastrointestinal distress
Insomnia, characterized by inadequate sleep quality and quantity, is experienced by many people and it frequently affects stroke survivors as well. It causes people to feel tired and often get very worried about not getting enough sleep. Typical symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning or feeling tired upon waking
- Sleepiness during the day
- Irritability and problems with concentration or memory
If you experience any of the above symptoms and believe you are suffering from a sleeping disorder, do not hesitate contacting a doctor or another profession that can help you. It can improve the quality of your life!