Overview of Sleep Problems
Sleep is not just resting or taking a break from busy routines - it is essential to physical and emotional health. Adequate sleep may also play a role in helping the body recover from illness and injury. Inadequate sleep over a period of time is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
But, the emotional and mental benefits of sleep are also significant. Even occasional sleeping problems can make daily life feel more stressful and less productive. And, some people with chronic insomnia are more likely to develop psychiatric problems. In a recent survey, those who said they had trouble getting enough sleep reported impaired ability to perform tasks involving:
- logical reasoning
- mathematical calculation
Loss of sleep is believed to contribute to strained relationships at home, and unfulfilled potential on the job, and can also be dangerous, leading to serious or even fatal accidents. Consider these facts from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Sleep problems increase with aging.
- Health care expenses and lost productivity from sleep deprivation cost approximately 100 billion dollars a year.
- Drowsy drivers take the blame for at least 100,000 police-reported crashes in the US annually.
- At least 40 million Americans report having sleep difficulties. Sixty percent of adults in the US have never been asked about their sleep quality by a physician, and 20 percent have never asked their physicians for sleep information.
Although sleep needs vary from person to person, generally, most healthy adults need no more than of 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. If you have some of the following problems, you may need more sleep, or a better quality of sleep, than you are getting:
- trouble staying alert during boring or monotonous activities
- tendency to be unreasonably irritable with co-workers, family, or friends
- difficulty concentrating or remembering facts
There are many types of sleep problems. Disorders of sleeping and waking interfere with quality of life and personal health, and endanger public heath. These problems range from staying awake or staying with a regular sleep/wake cycle, sleepwalking, bedwetting, nightmares, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, snoring, and sleep apnea syndrome.
For those who suffer from sleep disorders, help is available from many sources.
Sleep problems may be caused by or the result of disorders in various systems of the body. Sleep apnea, for example, is a respiratory disorder while narcolepsy is a neurological disorder.
Sleep problems can be treated or managed by different medical specialties. For example, pulmonary medicine will offer help to people who suffer from sleep apnea, and neurology will provide treatment for narcolepsy.
However, other medical specialties also offer treatment for sleep disorders. Many rehabilitation facilities and anesthesiology departments sponsor comprehensive sleep disorder programs, as do mental health centers. The American Board of Sleep Medicine establishes standards and certification for physicians and scientists who wish to become certified in sleep medicine.
Talk with your physician about which sleep disorder program is right for you.