Restless leg syndrome and snoring
4. You move all over the bed or wake tangled in the covers.
What it's a symptom of: That kind of movement indicates restless leg syndrome or a related problem, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD).
How it interrupts sleep: Doctors don't know exactly what causes these sleep movement disorders, but they do know they're directly related to a lack of deep, restful, REM sleep. The restlessness can prevent you from sinking into deep sleep, or a muscle jerk can wake or partially rouse you from deep sleep.
What to do: See a doctor to discuss your symptoms and get a diagnosis, which may also involve looking for underlying conditions related to restless leg syndrome or PLMD. Diabetes, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, anemia, thyroid disease, and kidney problems can all contribute to restless leg syndrome and PLMD. Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications you're taking; a number of medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and lithium, can cause restless leg syndrome as a side effect.
You can also try making dietary changes to make sure you're getting enough iron and B vitamins, particularly folic acid, since iron and folate deficiency have been linked to restless leg syndrome. Red meat, spinach, and other leafy greens are good sources of both nutrients, but you may want to take supplements as well. If your doctor diagnoses restless leg syndrome or PLMD, medications used to treat Parkinson's can relieve symptoms by eliminating the muscle jerks. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help you sleep more deeply, with the idea of preventing the involuntary movements from keeping you in light sleep.
5. You wake up with a dry mouth or horrible morning breath.
What it's a symptom of: Mouth breathing and snoring both disrupt sleep by compromising breathing. Look for drool on your pillow or in the corners of your mouth. If you have a partner, ask him or her to monitor you for snoring, gasping, or overloud breathing.
How it interrupts sleep: Mouth breathing and snoring can interrupt sleep because you're not getting enough air to fully relax. Severe snoring -- particularly when accompanied by gasps or snorts -- can also indicate a more serious problem with obstructed breathing during sleep.
What to do: Train yourself to breathe through your nose. Try snore-stopping nose strips, available over the counter at the drugstore, or use saline nasal spray to irrigate your nasal passages. Experiment with sleep positions; most people have a tendency to snore and breathe through their mouths when sleeping on their backs. Use pillows to prop yourself on your side, or try the tennis ball trick: Put a tennis ball in the back pocket of your pajama bottoms (or attach it some other way), so it alerts you when you roll over.
If you typically drink alcohol in the evening, try cutting it out. Alcohol, a sedative, relaxes the muscles of the nose and throat, contributing to snoring. Other sedatives and sleeping pills do the same thing, so avoid using anything sedating. Alcohol also can trigger snoring in two other ways: It makes you sleep more deeply initially and is dehydrating.
Losing weight -- even just ten pounds -- can eliminate snoring, studies show. If none of these solutions work, consult a doctor to get tested for sleep-disordered breathing conditions such as apnea.