The actual number of hours of sleep we need varies from person-to-person and by age, but the overall average is between 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep is important in maintaining a healthy body and mind.

What happens to the body and mind when we do not get enough sleep?

  • Our ability to function during the day is impaired if we do not get enough sleep or undisturbed sleep through all sleep cycles.
  • Our ability to function in terms of doing complex cognitive activities during the day such as mathematics, critical thinking, and these kinds of things are greatly impacted by the quality and quantity of our sleep.
  • Reaction times are slowed somewhat if we do not get enough sleep, this can include activities like driving.
  • Some studies have concluded that chronic sleep deprivation may impair cognitive ability almost as much as alcohol.

Why is getting a good night’s rest so important?

Our sense of well-being is affected by how much sleep we get and the quality of that sleep. Certainly there is no substitute for getting a good night’s sleep.

How prevalent are sleep issues today?

Sleep apnea, which occurs when a person stops breathing while they are sleeping, is the most common sleep issue. It’s usually characterized by snoring.

How will I know if it is time to ask a sleep specialist?

If sleep problems, whether they are insomnia, loud snoring, excessive sleepiness, etc., are ongoing, you should see a sleep specialist or contact your doctor to see if a referral to a sleep specialist is in order. There are many other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movements, that may require evaluation by a sleep specialist.

Things like family stress, a death in the family and other life-changing events can cause short-term sleep issues. However, if the sleep disturbance associated with these types of events persists, then you should see a sleep specialist.

Free Online Sleep Screening

To find out if you would benefit from a sleep evaluation, take a free online SleepAware screening.

Timothy Lieske, MD

Timothy Lieske, MD

Health Expert

Timothy Lieske, MD, is a Pulmonologist with Lincoln Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates.

Learn More About Timothy Lieske, MD

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