Five common nocturnal problems and what they may mean. It’s a time for rest and recuperation but it’s also when you might experience symptoms that are clues that things are not well.


For most of us, night is a time for rest and recuperation. But it’s also the time when you might experience symptoms that are clues that are not well — a problem with sleeping can be a symptom in itself.

“There are things that occur at night that can be suggestive of an underlying condition. Night sweats, for example, could be TB. Some conditions such as restless legs that jump around, can be due to low iron levels —although it can also be a symptom of working at all. Early-morning walking and not being able to get back to sleep can be a symptom of anxiety or depression.”


Could be:- Barrett’s Oesophagus

“Up to 40% of the population have heartburn at some stage and the majority have nothing wrong with them. But long term, persistent heartburn isn’t normal and should be investigated, it can lead to changes in the lining of the gullet this is called Barrett’s Oesophagus. This makes the oesophagus more resistant to acid but more prone to cancer.” Regular check-ups can catch cancer early. It can also be treated with lifestyle changes to reduce acid. “Many people who are troubled for heartburn get it day and night, you lie flat so, with no help from gravity, more acid can enter the oesophagus.”

Could also be:- Inflammation of the stomach lining restriction or the food pipe — oseophagtis, gastri-oesophangeal reflux, hiatus hernia.)

See your GP if:- Heartburn is long term, you have difficulty swallowing, you’re losing weight or you have a family history of Barrett’s Oesophagus or oesophageal cancer.


Could be:- Stress

“This is either clenching the jaw and teeth, or teeth grinding.” “During the night, it tends to be teeth grinding. A lot of people make so much noise that their partner can’t sleep. Sufferers themselves can get jaw ache and headache. It’s a recognized sleep disorder — the third most common after insomnia and snoring. There are many different cause, including stress and anxiety. Sleeping pills can make things worse, but hypnotherapy may help to find out what is causing the stress.” Other treatments include mouth guards, and mandibular advancement devices, which hold the lower jaw and tongue forward. Bruxism can also be affected by lifestyle — alcohol, smoking, and excessive caffeine can bring it on. Like snoring, you can control it, but you can’t cure it.”

Could also be:- Linked with another sleep disorder especially obstructive sleep apnea where you stop breathing at night. “You snort, gasp for air and at that point you start your teeth grinding.

See your doctor if:- You think you’re suffering from stress and anxiety or have sleep apnea. “Otherwise see your dentist”.


Could be:- TB

“With TB, your body temperature tends to go up in the evening and at night rather than during the day time. It tends to be severe — the kind of sweating where you need to change the sheets. But night sweats happen with other conditions too, so they need to be put into context.”

Could also be:- Menopause, other infections such as pneumonia, blood disorders, including leukaemia or lymphoma. Or it could be nothing. “More commonly, it’s the wrong divet that’s making you too hot.”

See your doctor if:- It lasts longer than a week and you have other symptoms, including weight has of a cough that’s gone on for more than three weeks especially if you coughing blood. Also make an appointment if you’re brusing easily and have lumps on your armpits, groin or neck.


Could be:- Diabetes

“Going to the loo at night is a common symptom of undiagnosed diabetes. You have high sugar levels and your body is trying to push it out with the urine and that makes you go to the loo. People over 40 often put it down to getting on a bit, but it’s a symptom to get checked. Other symptoms include drinking more than usual and excessive tiredness.” “If a child who has previously been dry at night starts to wet the bed, parents often think that they’re upset about something at school. But it’s also a red flag symptom of type-1 diabetes.”

Could also be:- Pelvic floor and urogynaecological conditions (women) enlarged prostate (men).

See your doctor if:- It’s a new problem especially if you have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as a close family member with it.


Could be:- Poor Diet

“Leg cramps can be a sign of deficiency in electrolyte nutrients potassium and magnesium, which help control the balance of fluids in the body. This affects the muscle ability. Calcium is also needed for effective muscle fiber construction. Magnesium helps with nerve impulses, across muscle tissue. You can have cramp, if you don’t get enough. Build up magnesium by eating pumpkin seeds, fish and green vegetables. Stock up on potassium with bananas or a supplement. Leg cramps in fit, healthy people can sometimes be due to low levels of sodium (salt). This typically happens if you exercise and sweat a lot. “If you avoid processed food which is the main source of salt in the diet, add a little salt to your meals.” Also drink plenty of fluids — water or herbal tea are best. “We lose a liter and a half a day.” “Coconut water is a good hydrate and contains electrolytes.”

Could also be:- Could be your medication especially diuretics.

See your doctor if:- You also have cardiovascular issues. “99% of the time we never find a cause for leg cramps.”



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