Sleep Problems Common and Treatable

Health Minute

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A continued lack of quality sleep can have a serious effect on a person's health. The National Sleep Foundation found that seventy-four percent of American adults experience a sleep problem a few nights a week or more. Thirty-nine percent get less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight, and more than thirty-seven percent experience daytime sleepiness that interferes with daily activities.

More than half of Americans have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early and having trouble getting back to sleep, and waking still tired. Insomnia can come and go or be long-lasting.

Most adults do best with about eight hours of sleep each night until age 60, after which six hours may be enough. Even though the elderly need less sleep, almost one half of people over 60 experience some degree of insomnia.

The best measure of the amount of sleep needed is how you feel. If you awaken feeling refreshed, you are getting enough sleep. For some people, this may take only four hours. Others can need up to ten hours to feel rested.

The main symptom of insomnia, according to the National Institutes of Health, is trouble falling and/or staying asleep, which leads to lack of sleep. If you have insomnia, you may:

  • Lie awake for a long time before you fall asleep
  • Sleep for only short periods
  • Be awake for much of the night
  • Feel as if you haven't slept at all
  • Wake up too early

The Centers for Disease Control warn that insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health. Notably, insufficient sleep is associated with the onset of these diseases and also poses important implications for their management and outcome. Additionally, insufficient sleep is responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, causing injury and disability each year. In short, drowsy driving can be as dangerous—and preventable—as driving while intoxicated.

Sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation below have noted that the need for sleep changes as we age (*including naps):

Newborns

0 - 2 Months 12 - 18 Hours

Infants

3 - 11 Months 14 - 15 Hours

Toddlers

1 - 3 Years 12 - 14 Hours

Preschoolers

3 - 5 Years 11 - 13 Hours

School-Age Children

5 - 10 Years 10 - 11 Hours

Teens

10 - 17 Years 8.5 - 9.25 Hours

Adults

  7 - 9 Hours

(Taken from the National Sleep Foundation Web site.)

Tips for Quality Sleep

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol, as it can lead to disrupted sleep
  • Don’t nap after 3 p.m.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime
  • Stick to a sleep schedule
  • Exercise regularly, but complete your workout at least three hours before bedtime
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine (e.g., taking a warm bath or shower)
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, and preferably cool and comfortable
  • Use a sleep diary to examine sleep habits

If you or your loved one is having difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, discuss this with your physician.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.