Disorders That Can Disrupt A Good Night’s Sleep

According to experts, about 45 percent of San Francisco residents report getting more than seven hours of sleep each night. About 56 percent of them also say they are getting high quality sleep. That’s not true across the country though. The American Sleep Association has found that up to 70 million Americans suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. While stress may interfere with sleep, there are a range of health problems that can hinder a good night’s rest. Fortunately, for many people who are trying to sleep and can’t, a new mattress, among other treatments, can really help.

Restless Leg Syndrome

This disorder creates an urge to move your legs that is uncontrollable and is an uncomfortable sensation. It’s most common when you’re sitting or lying down and is typically more pronounced at night. Moving your legs helps alleviate the discomfort. This condition tends to get worse as you get older. Certain health problems are associated with restless leg syndrome, including kidney failure, an iron deficiency, and lesions on the spinal cord. There are a variety of medications, including muscle relaxers, opioids, and those that boost dopamine levels, that are successful at treating restless leg syndrome for many people. The right sleeping environment can also help. Kate recommends these mattresses for people with restless leg syndrome.


Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints in your body, causing swelling and tenderness. Like restless leg syndrome, arthritis gets worse with age and leads to a breakdown of the cartilage in your joints. There are several different kinds of arthritis, but they can all make it difficult to get comfortable, particularly at night when you’re trying to sleep. The right mattress is important in this case too because it can help you find a comfortable sleeping position, but painkillers and corticosteroid creams are also beneficial. For people with severe arthritis, physical therapy or surgery can also help.


While being pregnant brings both joy and excitement, it can also make it hard to sleep, especially toward the end of the last trimester. In addition, pregnancy itself can lead to other conditions that interfere with sleep, including restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, GERD and increased urination. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are several sleep positions that can help you get the rest you need. Sleeping with a pillow under your abdomen can help alleviate back pain. A propped up position can relieve heartburn and lying on your side makes breathing easier. Sleeping on your back or stomach during the later stages of pregnancy is not recommended as it can make you uncomfortable and increases the odds that you’ll have trouble sleeping.

Back Pain

Back pain is a very common complaint and many people experience it when they’re lying down, making it hard to get to sleep. You may feel the pain localized in your back but may also notice that it radiates into your legs. Back pain can be caused by many things, including strains, injuries, slipped or ruptured disks and other issues that affect your muscles and bones. During the day you can practice good posture, exercise and keep your weight healthy, and use caution when lifting. At night, you can try muscle relaxers or pain medications, but sleeping on a supportive mattress with a body pillow can also help.


Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. It tends to worsen when you lie down and can be a chronic problem, but can also be caused by eating heavy, fatty meals close to bedtime. In that case, the fix is simple. Eat lighter meals or plan to finish eating several hours before bedtime so your food has a chance to digest before you lay down. You might also try avoiding coffee, other sources of caffeine and alcohol in the evening. While you sleep, you can try using a mattress wedge or blocks under your bedposts, which work to elevate your head, enabling gravity to help keep the stomach acid from flowing back up.

No matter why you’re having trouble sleeping, avoiding your smartphone or tablet before bed can also help. The blue light emitted by the screen interferes with brain waves, making it hard for some people to sleep. If you still can’t get the rest you need, talk to your doctor.

Just Posted

Visitors read a notice hanging on the Polk Street entrance to City Hall on Thursday, March 26, 2020, shortly after the building was closed. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Hall reopening to the public on June 7 after long closure due to COVID-19

San Francisco will reopen City Hall to the public on June 7… Continue reading

Many famillies have supported keeping John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park free of car traffic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over future of JFK Drive heats up

Shamann Walton compares accessibilty issues to segregation, likens street closure to ‘1950s South’

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, pictured in March, is unveiling a series of budget proposals this week. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom’s school plan has billions for college savings accounts, after school programs and more

Hannah Wiley The Sacramento Bee California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to send… Continue reading

Tara Hobson, center, principal at SF International High School, welcomes a student back on Monday, April 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD seniors get a chance to say goodbye to school in person

Deal to briefly return older students to school leaves many parents and teens dissatisfied

Filmmaker Will J. Zang’s four-minute hybrid documentary “The Leaf” is part of CAAMFest’s Out/Here Shorts program focusing on LGBTQ+ stories. (Courtesy Will J. Zang)
Gay Chinese filmmaker Will Zang has a dilemma in ‘The Leaf’

CAAMFest screenings reflect diverse Asian and Asian-American experiences

Most Read