Blood Circulation Problems While Sleeping

Circulate The Right Info About Your Circulation

With the myriad of health issues that are cropping up globally, it can be difficult to see the more subtle issues. Circulation problems are definitely one of the more nuanced issues. 

Often, people don't understand the severity of such a problem. However, this guide is meant to provide a comprehensive understanding of all there is to know about poor circulation.   


What is Poor Circulation? 

Poor circulation is when certain parts of your body don't receive enough blood flow. It's important to discuss the issues this causes because of the severe impact it can have on your health. 

Poor circulation is often a marker of another, more prominent disease. It is often associated with diabetes, heart, attacks, and more. While poor circulation is not prevalent on its own, its comorbid diseases make it serious.


Long-Term Health Problems 

Like mentioned before, bad circulation is usually present when there's something more serious at play. It can often show up as a side-effect of the bigger problem or as a sign. However, this doesn't mean it can't cause damage on its own. It's not an inconvenience rather a legitimate issue that requires medical attention. Here's a list of some of the long term impacts of poor circulation: 

  • Numbness: Numbness is a very common marker of bad circulation, as well as a long-term side effect of poor circulation. The numbness is usually at the extremities of limbs. It's usually present at the tips of your fingers and toes and can spread through the limbs.
  • Nerve Damage: The lack or reduced blood flow to the extremities cause hands and feet to feel a lot colder. The rest of the body is still at a normal temperature, causing temperature fluctuations, which affect your nerve endings. The reduced blood flow also means that your nerve endings aren't getting the required nutrients and oxygen.
  • Tissue Damage: Blood flow is necessary to keep tissue healthy and happy. When blood flow is disrupted or blocked, the tissue starts to die. If the tissue damage is sustained over an extended period of time, then amputation may be required.  
  • Strokes: Dying tissue and plaque build-up due to poor circulation can cause arteries and other valves to be blocked. A block or clot can be horrible, but if they travel to the brain, lungs, or heart can cause heart attacks or strokes!

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Causes of Poor Circulation

Understanding the causes of poor circulation can help you take the necessary steps to improve your condition. If you're suffering from a disease that has comorbidities, then it can be helpful to look out for signs to prevent anything from happening. These are some causes of poor circulation: 

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

This disease happens when the blood vessels outside the heart start to narrow down. This can be because of fatty build-up on the walls of the vessels or due to blood clots. Peripheral artery disease has a high association with poor circulation. 

The narrowing of the blood vessels means that there's reduced blood flow through the body. This leads to poor circulation in legs, arms, and possibly other parts of the body. The disease itself can lead to further health issues such as a stroke. 

More often than not, people with the disease are at a higher risk of foot problems because of the poor circulation in their legs. As mentioned above, it can cause tissue damage leading to amputation in severe circumstances. While this isn't usually seen in people above 50, it is always better to be on the safer side.


Blood Clots

Blood clots are an obvious cause of poor circulation. They also have a lot of larger, more dangerous side effects. Blood clots usually occur to prevent someone from bleeding out. When you injure yourself, the blood will clot in the area to stop the bleeding. However, they can also form for no reason at all. 

Often immobility, smoking, certain medication, and disorders can cause inappropriate blood clots to form. These clots block the arteries and veins either partially or completely, causing poor circulation.

Sometimes, these blood clots will travel. Poor circulation in legs leading to blood clots is seen to travel to the brain, lungs, or heart, leading to major issues. 

There are several different kinds of blood clots, and these symptoms can be circumstantial. However, poor circulation can be an important sign of blood clots. Catching them early means you can get them cured before any life-threatening damage occurs.


Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are caused by valve failure, which causes enlarged veins that appear damaged. While usually seen in the back of the legs, varicose veins are usually genetic. The damaged veins are unable to move blood the way that they are meant to, leading to poor circulation. They could also cause blood clots, but this is very rare.


Diabetes

Diabetes is known to affect your blood sugar levels, but a lesser-known fact is an effect on blood circulation. Lots of diabetics often deal with cramping, pain, heart problems, and more. While it seems like they'd be easily able to tell when there are issues, most diabetics may not notice. 

They have a hard time detecting poor circulation because of diabetic neuropathy. This is nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels. It has all the same symptoms as poor circulation, tingling, pain, and numbness in the feet and hands, for instance. It is very dangerous, but this also means that misdiagnosis is entirely possible.


Obesity

Being overweight comes with a lot of issues. Many of these problems are not social ones, rather health problems. Being clinically overweight leads to stress on the body. Sitting or standing for extended periods while overweight can lead to poor circulation in the legs. 

Obesity is also a cause of varicose veins as well as blood clots. It's important to be aware of these comorbidities to prevent any issues from cropping up in the future.


Raynaud's Disease

People suffering from Raynaud's Disease constantly have cold hands and feet. This is due to narrow arteries in your hands and toes. Since this limits blood flow, these areas may be colder than other parts. 

The reduced blood flow also means that circulation issue symptoms might start acting up. Apart from your hands and feet, symptoms may be experienced in their lips, nose, ears, and nipples. 


Diagnosing Poor Circulation

Poor circulation can be identified by a patient but requires a doctor to confirm. While your regular doctor might be able to identify it, consulting a vascular specialist can greatly help. It is necessary for a doctor to confirm the illness before taking any major steps. Before providing a diagnosis, your doctor is going to take a look at: 

  • Symptoms
  • Any risk factors
  • Related conditions 
  • Family medical history of the illness
  • And results of physical tests

For the purpose of diagnosis, there are the following tests your doctor might order: 

  • A blood sugar test 
  • Ultrasound or CT scans
  • Ankle-brachial index

Signs of Poor Circulation

Poor circulation is bound to show up physically. Some of the symptoms may seem mild or may even go unnoticed; however, persistent symptoms that interfere with your daily routine or sleep. If you notice any combination of symptoms, visit a doctor to get a confirmed diagnosis.


Numbness

What starts off as a mere symptom can quickly turn into a long term issue. One of the main symptoms of poor circulation happens to be numbness in the extremities of your fingers and feet. Often when sleeping, you might feel some numbness. 

Persistent numbness while sleeping, that starts to interfere with sleep patterns, can be indicative of poor circulation at night.


Tingling

A tingling in your legs and arms can be a quick way to identify poor circulation. In the case of tingling, you can quickly shake them off. If the feeling persists, make sure to speak to a professional to see if there is an underlying issue. 


Muscle Cramps

Cramping is common in conditions like diabetes, but it can also be a sign of poor circulation.


Hair loss on legs

We're familiar with hair loss; however, with poor circulation, you might see hair loss on the legs. Poor circulation in legs might be detected if you see a worrying lack of hair on your feet and legs. 


Pale or Blue Skin and Nails

Lack of circulation can often be detected by color. Check your nails and pallor. If you see a distinct light blue sheen, there could be a poor circulation issue.


Dry, Cracked, and Brittle

Poor circulation has the unfortunate side effect of showing up as dry and cracked feet and skin on your hands. Your nails, both hands, and feet, will also be brittle and easily breakable.


Slow healing

Open wounds and scars are likely to heal a lot slower without the blood flow that's required. This can be quite problematic, opening you up to infections and a myriad of other issues. 


Erectile Dysfunction

Erections require a significant amount of blood flow, and poor circulation might have unforeseen effects on erections. 


How to Improve Circulation

Improving circulation in the body can be done with several lifestyles. However, poor circulation is often a result of a larger underlying problem, as we've seen. Going to the doctor for a consultation is the best course of action. 

A professional can detect the reason for your poor circulation and provide the necessary means and advice to improve circulation. Often treating your underlying issues can significantly improve circulation, and medication for heart issues, blood clots, and PAD are meant to encourage blood flow. However, there are still lifestyle changes you can make:


Exercise

Exercise is often recommended by doctors for associated issues such as obesity and diabetes. Staying active and healthy can reduce stress, reduce pooling of blood, and improve mental health overall. 

The main reason exercise is recommended because it literally gets the blood pumping. Poor circulation is when there is reduced blood flow to certain areas, so what better way than to push the blood to pump than exercise? 

Even if you're not into one-hour workouts, walking helps with circulation issues. It stretches and uses leg muscles, and is especially helpful if you've been stationary or sitting down for quite a while. Quick walks can be of great help when dealing with poor circulation. 


Diet Changes

The cause of poor circulation is almost always an underlying deeper issue. More often than not, diet changes become a part of the at-home-treatment for those problems. As a rule of thumb, eating less fatty foods, processed goods, and extra salty foods is a good start.

It becomes necessary to include more fruit in the diet, to balance out your meals. While you're not forbidden from indulging in a little bit, for the most part staying away from foods that you know to be unhealthy is a sure-fire way to start improving your circulation. 


No Tobacco

Smoking is a habit that is never encouraged. It's always better to quit the habit before it can affect you permanently. However, it can not only cause cancer and lung damage but also lead to bad circulation. 

Smoking deteriorates your blood vessels, cause swelling in your feet and ankles, and cause blood clots. All of these consequences can cause bad circulation. A damaged heart, in combination with smoking, can often cause damaged legs in your veins, which will definitely lead to poor circulation in legs.


Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are great to reduce pain and swelling. They also work very well to improve blood flow. For those that are always either standing or sitting through the day, compression socks can be a blessing. 

The socks are mimicking the action of walking while you're stationary. They push the muscles in your legs to contract and relax as they would when you walk. This stimulates blood flow, doesn't lead to blood pooling, and reduces pain and swelling. 


Hydration

Hydrating is one of the simple things you can do to keep your blood flowing. Even if it doesn't have instant effects, it will cause significant future benefits. Drinking enough water a day, which is said to be eight glasses a day, is going to help your overall mental and physical health. 


Baths

Sitting in a warm bath significantly improves blood flow. While this isn't a permanent fix, baths are a great way to improve circulation and reduce stress. Soaking in a bath before bed can help with poor circulation at night. 


Stress

If you're overly stressed and have high blood pressure, the chances of your circulation improving are low. High blood pressures for extended periods of time can cause several different issues, one of which is the hardening of your arteries. If you've got a medical diagnosis to make sure to medicate as necessary to prevent more problems.


Solutions for the bed-ridden or immobile

Being bed-ridden or immobile is a sure-fire way to end up with some health problems. Maintaining the same position while sleeping can lead to blood clots, obesity, and by extension, poor circulation. Since you're not moving around, blood pool in the legs, muscles to become stiff, and cause multiple other issues. 

Poor circulation at night is also a problem that many people face, leading to poor sleep quality. Here are some ways to stem blood circulation problems while sleeping or immobile. 


Sleep position

The position you sleep in can affect your health in more ways than you care to admit. One of which is poor circulation. It is best to sleep in a position that keeps your spine aligned. 

Adjust your pillows to a comfortable height, sleep on a supportive mattress, and make sure you can actually relax. If you're sleeping on your side, keeping a pillow between your legs as well can improve leg circulation problems at night. 


Elevation of the legs

While still sleeping on your back, you can elevate your legs. Laying on your bed or other surface and placing your legs against your wall, stretching your legs, etc. can significantly reduce leg circulation problems at night. 


Changing positions

Make sure to change positions at night if woken up by numbness and tingling. Simple changing positions can reduce blood circulation problems while sleeping. Often in our sleep, we overlook issues that our body definitely can.

While it is essential to do as much as you can at home if circulation issue symptoms persist, make sure to inform a doctor or professional. 


Medical Solutions

There are medical solutions for almost everything these days. So, while you can make several lifestyle changes, a lot of the suggestions provided by the doctor might be more medical. 

Things like allopathic medication, surgery, and equipment may be prescribed to treat poor circulation as a side effect of a major underlying issue. Here are some medical solutions that a doctor might recommend: 

  • Medication: When treating problems like diabetes, blood, clots, and more, as a patient, you are provided medication. For the most part, this medication will be to treat the main problem. There will be insulin for diabetes and medication to thin out a blood clot. When the more serious medical condition is treated, your poor circulation is bound to be fixed up. Blood-thinning medication is often provided to help with poor circulation. This helps blood flow more easily, solving the problem.
  • Surgery: Treatment for varicose veins comes in the form of endoscopic vein surgery. Obesity can often be helped along with bariatric surgery or something akin to the same. The surgery is likely to reduce symptoms of poor circulation and improve the more significant health problem as well. 

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Endnotes

The smallest issues can be the most uncomfortable at times. Poor circulation is one of them. Apart from issues like dry skin and annoying numbness, lousy circulation can have long-term effects on your health. Or worse, they could be indicative of a deeper problem such as blood clots or PAD. 

Dealing with some poor circulation is easy and has an effect on your overall health. Taking a quick walk a few times a day and eating a balanced diet instead of takeaway can do wonders for your mental health as well! Taking care of yourself can only be beneficial in more ways than just one. Make the changes needed today!



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