The following is a list of most commonly asked questions about sleep and sleep disorders.
1. How much sleep does a person need?
The amount of sleep required varies by individual and by factors including age.
Children and adolescents, for example, typically need more sleep than young and
middle-aged adults. The average adult needs anywhere from 7 to 8 hours of sleep
However, experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring
activities, you haven't had enough sleep.
2. How do I know if I am getting enough sleep?
The best way to know if you are getting enough sleep is to notice whether or not you
feel sleepy during the day. If you find yourself falling asleep during the day,
you probably need to sleep more at night.
3. What are the pros and cons of napping?
The benefits of a nap depend on the time of day and the amount of sleep one has
had recently. Most naps enhance subsequent alertness and reduce sleepiness. Evidence
also suggests that naps can help offset the effects of frequent nighttime awakenings
in older people. Naps can be refreshing for most people and they can be beneficial
in the long run if they don't interfere with nighttime sleep. However, naps are
not very efficient ways to sleep because you're often just getting into the deeper
stage of sleep when your nap time is over. Another potential problem is that overly-long naps or naps that occur too close to bedtime can disrupt nighttime sleep.
4. How does stress affect my sleep?
Generally, if you have sleep problems, your stress response is being activated by
feelings of fear or anxiousness. For example, you or a loved one may be having a
health problem, there are difficulties at work, you may be having a relationship
problem with family or friends, or you may be having financial difficulties. Your
brain senses these anxious feelings that you take to bed with you—it activates
the stress response and causes adrenaline to be released into your system, which
prevents your natural sleep cycle from working effectively. The stress response
and the sleep response are opposite reactions in the body.
5. How do caffeine and nicotine affect sleep quality?
Lifestyle habits are important factors affecting sleep quality and the use of caffeine
and nicotine are two major culprits that disrupt sleep. They act as stimulants, which increases
production of hormones that raise blood pressure, speed up the heart rate and stimulate
brain-activity. Caffeine comes in many popular forms: coffee, tea, soft drinks,
chocolates and in many medications. Nicotine has a similar affect on the body as
caffeine. Smokers have difficulty falling asleep and also staying asleep. They
tend to wake up at night craving a smoke, so their sleep is often fragmented. Insomnia
ranks near the top of smokers' complaints.
6. How does alcohol affect sleep?
Alcohol is a depressant. While it may relax you and help you fall asleep, it also
disrupts the normal sleep cycle. Alcohol reduces the time spent in REM sleep and
the metabolism that clears it from your body when you are sleeping causes a withdrawal
syndrome. This withdrawal causes awakenings and is often associated with nightmares