Are you getting enough sleep? A good night's rest is essential for feeling and performing your best each day. Most adults need at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep at night to maintain optimal mental and physical health. If you're not getting the sleep that you need, ignoring the underlying causes of disturbed sleep, or covering the symptoms with alcohol or drugs, sleep problems will persist and become hazardous to your health.
A recent British study found that people who do not get enough sleep were twice as likely to die of heart disease. Sleep problems can also be a sign that something else is bothering you either physically or mentally. Researchers at U-M have found that the body's circadian rhythm, one of the critical factors for helping us to sleep at night, is often out of sync in people with depression. Depression can keep you from getting good sleep, and a lack of good sleep can make you depressed.
If you are experiencing any of the following daytime symptoms, there's a good chance that you're not getting enough restful sleep and may possibly have a sleep disorder. Are you:
- feeling sleepy on most days?
- having difficulty staying awake when sitting still?
- having difficulty paying attention or concentrating?
- having trouble remembering things?
- performing tasks below your potential?
- often told that you look tired?
- consuming caffeinated beverages to keep going?
Among the nearly 100 sleep disorders that have been identified, insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome (RLS) are the most common.
Insomnia involves difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early, or poor quality sleep that is associated with daytime impairments. It is commonly caused by by stress, a change in time zones or sleep schedule, poor bedtime habits, or an underlying physical or mental health condition.
Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing stops or gets very shallow repeatedly during sleep. The most common form, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Although the brain signals the body to resume breathing with each apnea event, sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs that is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations, such as tingly or creepy/crawly sensations. The problem is worse at rest, during the evening, and is temporarily relieved by movement, RLS symptoms often disrupt sleep by making it difficult to fall asleep or return to sleep after waking.
Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and care, sleep problems can be managed and overcome. If lack of sleep has become a concern for you, we encourage you to seek help. Here are some ways to get started: