Everyone knows that sleep is important. Without it, you don't have the energy to get through your day.
But sleep problems that go on for a long time can affect your health.
Most adults do best when they get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. Sleep gives your brain a little vacation. During this break, your brain has time to:
Although having a few sleepless nights may leave you feeling tired and grumpy, it probably won't affect your health. But when you don't sleep well night after night, you can have what's called sleep deprivation or sleep debt.
Besides affecting your energy level and your mood, sleep debt affects your body in lots of other ways. For example:
And not getting enough sleep is linked with a number of chronic (long-term) diseases and conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and depression. While almost everyone feels sleepy in the daytime now and then, sleep debt can be the cause of serious problems like car crashes and work-related accidents.
The everyday stresses of life-your job, your family or relationships, money problems, jet lag-can keep you from sleeping well. It's also common to have trouble sleeping when you have a fever or an injury. These stresses are often temporary.
Your habits and activities before bedtime, such as drinking coffee, watching TV, or using the computer, can also affect how well you sleep.
And some medical conditions can cause sleep problems that last a long time. These conditions include:
If you have an illness that's keeping you from sleep, it can sometimes become a bad cycle. The illness keeps you from sleeping well. And without enough sleep, your body can't fight the illness as well.
If you have trouble sleeping for a week or more, talk with your doctor to find out if any medical or mental health problems are causing your sleep problems. And let your doctor know what medicines you take that might be keeping you awake.
A counselor or therapist can help you cope with stress and may offer techniques for falling sleep. There are also steps you can take on your own to manage your stress.
To help you fall asleep, you may need to change your routine before you go to bed. Try limiting caffeine. And avoid using technology devices such as smartphones, computers, or tablets before bedtime.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerHasmeena Kathuria, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
Current as ofJuly 26, 2016
Current as of:
July 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Hasmeena Kathuria, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017