Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Disorders
How much sleep does a person need?
The amount of sleep a person requires 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 9 hours of sleep per night.
How do I know if I am getting enough sleep?
The best way to know if you are getting enough sleep is to see 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.
What treatments are there for sleep disorders?
Depending upon the diagnosis and the specific sleep disorder, treatment may include such methods as:
- Appliances (for disorders such as sleep apnea)
- Changes in routine (a regular schedule for sleeping and waking)
- Medication (sleeping pills, antidepressants)
- Changes in diet (a reduction in the intake of alcohol and caffeine and other stimulants)
- Stress reduction
- A regular exercise program
- Weight reduction
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 a very efficient way to sleep because you're often just getting into the deeper stage of sleep when your nap time is up. Another potential problem is that overly long naps (exceeding two hours), or naps that occur too close to bedtime, can disrupt nighttime sleep.
Who is at risk for sleep disorders?
Anyone of any age or gender can have a sleep disorder. However, some people who are more at risk for some sleep disorders include:
- Middle-aged women, who are more susceptible to insomnia.
- Overweight, middle-aged men, who are more susceptible to sleep apnea.
- Children and adolescents, who experience more incidents of sleepwalking than other groups.
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 (the deepest 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 and sweats.