Sleep: The Foundation of Your HealthLast updated: Mar 03, 2011
Studies show that getting enough sleep is important for improving and maintaining good health. Researchers believe that certain processes necessary for repairing the body occur at best or only during sleep. Getting too little sleep means missing important cycles that help restore memory and ensure the ability to concentrate, accurately perform motor skills, and keep emotions on an even keel. Without the processes and cycles, risk increases for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, reduced immunity, and other serious health problems. In addition, being sleepy during waking hours can lead to traffic accidents, depression, and poor work performance. It also can contribute to social and family difficulties.
Important sleep factors
Two factors appear to have an important role in sleep—basal sleep time and sleep debt. Basal sleep time refers to amount of sleep you need in a 24-hour period to feel good, be alert, and stay healthy. Sleep debt refers to the accumulated sleep you lose to poor sleep habits, illness, and being woken too soon.
How much sleep is enough?
The amount of sleep you need generally depends on your age, gender, and lifestyle. The National Institutes of Health suggests that while some adults need as many as 9 hours of sleep per day, some adults do well with as little as 7 hours.
On the other hand, some researchers believe that getting too much sleep (more than 9 hours) can increase your risk for health problems and even death. Although more studies are needed to be conclusive, some researchers believe the increased risks from too much sleep are likely associated with other health risks such as depression and obesity that might cause a person to sleep more than necessary.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Answer the following questions to find out if you're getting enough sleep:
- Do you usually get a good night's sleep?
- Is your mood generally optimistic?
- Do you feel energetic and alert?
- Can you concentrate on your tasks/chores at work, school, and home during waking hours?
"If you answered no to any of the questions," says Summit Medical Group Sleep Disorders Center CoMedical Director Howard S. Blaustein, MD, "you should see a doctor with expertise in sleep disorders. He or she can help determine what's interfering with your sleep and create a treatment plan to improve your overall health and sleep."
Most sleep problems involve:
- Problems with falling asleep (insomnia)
- Problems staying awake (excessive daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia)
- Problems maintaining healthy sleep patterns (sleep rhythm disorders)
- Abnormal behaviors during sleep (sleep-disruptive behaviors)
We can help!
Our experts at the Sleep Disorders Center at Summit Medical Group can evaluate and treat many sleep problems. Our center offers a restful, home-like environment to evaluate you for:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
- Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)
We are an American Academy of Sleep Medicine-accredited Center of Excellence.