Why We Need Healthy Sleep

Reviewed Jan 19, 2017

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Summary

  • Poor sleep can lead to accidents, health problems and conflicts.
  • Proper sleep can help maintain health.
  • Many people struggle with sleep disorders, but a doctor can help.

Sleep is important to your well-being. It is a basic need for infant, child and adolescent growth. For adults, good sleep is central to overall health. Sleep helps your brain prepare for the next day. It also helps improve learning, problem solving and decision making. Sleep helps you control emotions and cope with change, as well.

Your body needs sleep to fight off infection and to help prevent certain diseases. What’s more, sleep is an important part of managing certain health conditions. Sleep can help people who have kidney disease, depression or other conditions manage symptoms and feel stronger.

Sleep is crucial. Yet many of us don’t get enough. In fact, 40 million people in the United States have more than 70 types of sleep problems. Some reports show that one in four adults have poor sleep at least 15 out of every 30 days.

How much sleep do you need?

Experts agree that adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Even so, the amount of sleep you need will change as you age. Your health and lifestyle also matter in figuring out how much sleep you need.

What’s more, you need enough of certain stages of sleep. For instance, getting enough deep sleep and REM sleep (dream sleep) may help people function well emotionally during the day. REM sleep is thought to activate the parts of the brain used to learn.

To find out how much sleep you need, think about how you feel during the day. Do you feel alert or foggy? Ask yourself what it takes to feel great all day—at work, play and while you are driving. Also, think about any health conditions you may have and how your sleep levels help you manage symptoms. All of these things can help you find your ideal amount of sleep.

What is poor sleep?

Poor sleep comes in different forms. Some people can’t fall asleep. Some struggle to stay asleep. Both of these issues are a part of insomnia. Many people also have sleep disorders related to breathing, such as sleep apnea. This is a block in the airway, causing pauses in breathing that can be harmful.

Many people are just not getting enough sleep. Short sleeping is getting less than six hours a night. Busy schedules and work demands are to blame for an increase in short sleepers in the United States. For many, short sleep may occur only now and then. But any disrupted sleep can lead to daytime fatigue.

Impact of poor sleep

What can happen when someone hasn’t gotten enough sleep? In the short term, it can be hard to function well at work. Medical errors, car accidents and mishaps on the job can all happen due to lack of sleep.

Over time, poor sleep affects functions in the body that help keep you healthy. For instance, sleep helps you keep a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. Without enough sleep, the hormones are off balance and you feel hungrier than when rested. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. Lack of sleep can be associated with high blood sugar levels, which raises diabetes risk. And although good sleep is healthy for your heart, conditions associated with poor sleep can affect the heart. This can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. In fact, for those who have untreated sleep apnea or other breathing problems, there is a two to four times greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

When it comes to relationships, poor sleep can also take a toll. Sleep loss can lead to conflict within families and outside the home. This makes it even more important to get help if you need it.

How to know if you need help

How do you know if you are dealing with a few restless nights or a deeper problem? Talk with your doctor if you are sleepy during the day, awake at night or deal with:

  • Low energy
  • Lack of drive
  • Trouble focusing or memory problems
  • Mistakes at work or behind the wheel
  • Worries about your sleep
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Headaches or stomach aches

Your doctor can help you find out if poor sleep is to blame. He or she can also help you find a sleep specialist if needed. Get treatment if recommended and be sure to follow your doctor’s advice for better sleep. These steps can improve your quality of life—and help protect your health in the long run.

Resources

National Sleep Foundation
http://sleepfoundation.org/

American Academy of Sleep Medicine
www.yoursleep.aasmnet.org

By Sarah Stone
Source: American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx; Healthy People 2020 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=38; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.html and www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm; National Sleep Foundation, http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need; American Academy of Sleep Medicine, http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Disorder.aspx?id=6
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Poor sleep can lead to accidents, health problems and conflicts.
  • Proper sleep can help maintain health.
  • Many people struggle with sleep disorders, but a doctor can help.

Sleep is important to your well-being. It is a basic need for infant, child and adolescent growth. For adults, good sleep is central to overall health. Sleep helps your brain prepare for the next day. It also helps improve learning, problem solving and decision making. Sleep helps you control emotions and cope with change, as well.

Your body needs sleep to fight off infection and to help prevent certain diseases. What’s more, sleep is an important part of managing certain health conditions. Sleep can help people who have kidney disease, depression or other conditions manage symptoms and feel stronger.

Sleep is crucial. Yet many of us don’t get enough. In fact, 40 million people in the United States have more than 70 types of sleep problems. Some reports show that one in four adults have poor sleep at least 15 out of every 30 days.

How much sleep do you need?

Experts agree that adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Even so, the amount of sleep you need will change as you age. Your health and lifestyle also matter in figuring out how much sleep you need.

What’s more, you need enough of certain stages of sleep. For instance, getting enough deep sleep and REM sleep (dream sleep) may help people function well emotionally during the day. REM sleep is thought to activate the parts of the brain used to learn.

To find out how much sleep you need, think about how you feel during the day. Do you feel alert or foggy? Ask yourself what it takes to feel great all day—at work, play and while you are driving. Also, think about any health conditions you may have and how your sleep levels help you manage symptoms. All of these things can help you find your ideal amount of sleep.

What is poor sleep?

Poor sleep comes in different forms. Some people can’t fall asleep. Some struggle to stay asleep. Both of these issues are a part of insomnia. Many people also have sleep disorders related to breathing, such as sleep apnea. This is a block in the airway, causing pauses in breathing that can be harmful.

Many people are just not getting enough sleep. Short sleeping is getting less than six hours a night. Busy schedules and work demands are to blame for an increase in short sleepers in the United States. For many, short sleep may occur only now and then. But any disrupted sleep can lead to daytime fatigue.

Impact of poor sleep

What can happen when someone hasn’t gotten enough sleep? In the short term, it can be hard to function well at work. Medical errors, car accidents and mishaps on the job can all happen due to lack of sleep.

Over time, poor sleep affects functions in the body that help keep you healthy. For instance, sleep helps you keep a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. Without enough sleep, the hormones are off balance and you feel hungrier than when rested. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. Lack of sleep can be associated with high blood sugar levels, which raises diabetes risk. And although good sleep is healthy for your heart, conditions associated with poor sleep can affect the heart. This can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. In fact, for those who have untreated sleep apnea or other breathing problems, there is a two to four times greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

When it comes to relationships, poor sleep can also take a toll. Sleep loss can lead to conflict within families and outside the home. This makes it even more important to get help if you need it.

How to know if you need help

How do you know if you are dealing with a few restless nights or a deeper problem? Talk with your doctor if you are sleepy during the day, awake at night or deal with:

  • Low energy
  • Lack of drive
  • Trouble focusing or memory problems
  • Mistakes at work or behind the wheel
  • Worries about your sleep
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Headaches or stomach aches

Your doctor can help you find out if poor sleep is to blame. He or she can also help you find a sleep specialist if needed. Get treatment if recommended and be sure to follow your doctor’s advice for better sleep. These steps can improve your quality of life—and help protect your health in the long run.

Resources

National Sleep Foundation
http://sleepfoundation.org/

American Academy of Sleep Medicine
www.yoursleep.aasmnet.org

By Sarah Stone
Source: American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx; Healthy People 2020 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=38; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.html and www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm; National Sleep Foundation, http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need; American Academy of Sleep Medicine, http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Disorder.aspx?id=6
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Poor sleep can lead to accidents, health problems and conflicts.
  • Proper sleep can help maintain health.
  • Many people struggle with sleep disorders, but a doctor can help.

Sleep is important to your well-being. It is a basic need for infant, child and adolescent growth. For adults, good sleep is central to overall health. Sleep helps your brain prepare for the next day. It also helps improve learning, problem solving and decision making. Sleep helps you control emotions and cope with change, as well.

Your body needs sleep to fight off infection and to help prevent certain diseases. What’s more, sleep is an important part of managing certain health conditions. Sleep can help people who have kidney disease, depression or other conditions manage symptoms and feel stronger.

Sleep is crucial. Yet many of us don’t get enough. In fact, 40 million people in the United States have more than 70 types of sleep problems. Some reports show that one in four adults have poor sleep at least 15 out of every 30 days.

How much sleep do you need?

Experts agree that adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Even so, the amount of sleep you need will change as you age. Your health and lifestyle also matter in figuring out how much sleep you need.

What’s more, you need enough of certain stages of sleep. For instance, getting enough deep sleep and REM sleep (dream sleep) may help people function well emotionally during the day. REM sleep is thought to activate the parts of the brain used to learn.

To find out how much sleep you need, think about how you feel during the day. Do you feel alert or foggy? Ask yourself what it takes to feel great all day—at work, play and while you are driving. Also, think about any health conditions you may have and how your sleep levels help you manage symptoms. All of these things can help you find your ideal amount of sleep.

What is poor sleep?

Poor sleep comes in different forms. Some people can’t fall asleep. Some struggle to stay asleep. Both of these issues are a part of insomnia. Many people also have sleep disorders related to breathing, such as sleep apnea. This is a block in the airway, causing pauses in breathing that can be harmful.

Many people are just not getting enough sleep. Short sleeping is getting less than six hours a night. Busy schedules and work demands are to blame for an increase in short sleepers in the United States. For many, short sleep may occur only now and then. But any disrupted sleep can lead to daytime fatigue.

Impact of poor sleep

What can happen when someone hasn’t gotten enough sleep? In the short term, it can be hard to function well at work. Medical errors, car accidents and mishaps on the job can all happen due to lack of sleep.

Over time, poor sleep affects functions in the body that help keep you healthy. For instance, sleep helps you keep a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. Without enough sleep, the hormones are off balance and you feel hungrier than when rested. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. Lack of sleep can be associated with high blood sugar levels, which raises diabetes risk. And although good sleep is healthy for your heart, conditions associated with poor sleep can affect the heart. This can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. In fact, for those who have untreated sleep apnea or other breathing problems, there is a two to four times greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

When it comes to relationships, poor sleep can also take a toll. Sleep loss can lead to conflict within families and outside the home. This makes it even more important to get help if you need it.

How to know if you need help

How do you know if you are dealing with a few restless nights or a deeper problem? Talk with your doctor if you are sleepy during the day, awake at night or deal with:

  • Low energy
  • Lack of drive
  • Trouble focusing or memory problems
  • Mistakes at work or behind the wheel
  • Worries about your sleep
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Headaches or stomach aches

Your doctor can help you find out if poor sleep is to blame. He or she can also help you find a sleep specialist if needed. Get treatment if recommended and be sure to follow your doctor’s advice for better sleep. These steps can improve your quality of life—and help protect your health in the long run.

Resources

National Sleep Foundation
http://sleepfoundation.org/

American Academy of Sleep Medicine
www.yoursleep.aasmnet.org

By Sarah Stone
Source: American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx; Healthy People 2020 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=38; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.html and www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm; National Sleep Foundation, http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need; American Academy of Sleep Medicine, http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Disorder.aspx?id=6
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

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