Patients and doctors both mistakenly believe that Insomnia – or the difficulty to fall asleep or stay asleep -- is the main symptom of a sleep disorder … and they would be wrong. And that misconception is one reason why 9 out of 10 patients remain undiagnosed and untreated for a sleep disorder.
Fatigue: The #1 Sign of a Sleep Disorder
Fatigue is at an epidemic in the United States. A 2015 YouGov poll found two-fifths (or nearly 40%) of Americans are tired and fatigued most of the week. One workplace study found that persistent fatigue was estimated in 38 percent of the American workforce, costing employers over $136 billion annually. Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that up to one-third of primary care office visits are fatigue-related.
Fatigue can take many forms: excess daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation or interest, reduced libido or reduced sexual performance. In men, fatigue is often misdiagnosed as low testosterone, and in women, fatigue is seen as secondary to Vitamin D deficiency or anemia. Patients are often screened for adrenal fatigue, prescribed medications for alertness (like Provigil/Nuvigil or amphetamine stimulants for ADD/ADHD), antidepressants for depression or anxiety, and told (most unhelpfully) to lose weight.
Fragmented sleep continuity, and the resulting reduction in total night restorative sleep, is one of several potential causes of fatigue. Sleep is not a static state of unconsciousness. When a person falls asleep, the brain naturally begins to cycle through alternating stages of very light and very deep sleep characterized by specific brain wave frequencies. The two stages of restorative sleep, REM and delta (or slow-wave sleep), should compromise 40-50% of your total sleep. During REM and delta sleep, the body’s neurological and biological reparative processes occur, allowing the body to repair and grow, the brain to organize memory blocks, and the endocrine systems to release and stabilize necessary hormone functions.
When a person is experiencing excess fatigue, a disruption or deviation of their natural sleep architecture may be responsible. However, because sleepiness and fatigue are common symptoms of various diseases and ailments, it is common for the underlying sleep disorder to remain undiagnosed and untreated. This often results in physicians treating the symptom rather than curing the underlying problem.
The most effective option for identifying if your fatigue is due to broken or insufficient restorative sleep is to begin with a full evaluation and assessment of your clinical symptoms, medical and sleep history. SleepSomatics provides New Patient Sleep Assessment, and our comprehensive initial appointment includes a thorough review of your unique constellation of symptoms and determination of the appropriate testing and treatment path.
Fatigue is not a natural state. You deserve a fulfilling quality of life. A restoring life begins with restorative sleep. Schedule your New Patient Sleep Assessment today with Austin’s top-rated sleep clinic, SleepSomatics.