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Sleep Disorders : How To Overcome Sleepless Nights - Samples

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Sleep Disorders:
How To Overcome Sleepless Nights

Facts About Sleep

The quality of our sleep is interlaced with every aspect of our daily life. It can affect our:

  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Working life
  • Moods
  • Sense of well-being
  • Behavior
  • Emotions
  • Energy levels
  • Sanity, and
  • Happiness

And yet, most of us know little about sleep.

People often think of sleep as a time when we rest and the brain becomes less active, but in reality a great deal of activity occurs in both the body and the brain when we sleep. Sleep doesn't turn off the systems of the body completely - in fact some of them function more actively once we fall asleep.

How Much Sleep do we Need?

The amount of sleep needed by individuals varies a great deal. There is no set 'normal' amount of sleep that each of us requires. However the amount you personally need is usually quite regular and although you may sleep for different lengths of time on different nights over a week, your average is likely to remain constant.

Many of us are familiar with the '8 hours of sleep' that seems to be the prescribed amount usually quoted, although most people seem to sleep naturally for somewhere around 7 hours; anywhere between 3 and 10 hours can be considered a good night's sleep, depending on the person.

Sleep researchers have defined people who need 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night as short sleepers and people needing 9 or more hours, long sleepers.

Some people do seem to get by quite happily on very little sleep, and how much you need varies from person to person and your own sleep needs may also change at different times. For example, we often need more sleep if we are suffering from:
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • In times of increased mental effort, during examinations for example, or
  • During menstruation

Infants and Children: Newborns require around 16 hours of sleep per day. This decreases to about 14 hours from the age of 6 months to 3 years. Young children tend to get their sleep quota from a combination of naps and nighttime sleep.

Adolescents: This age group requires around 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is vital for teenagers because their bodies release growth hormones essential for development to adulthood.

Adults - For most adults 7 to 8 hours per night is the often quoted optimal level of sleep time, although in reality this can range from 4 hours to 10 hours depending on the individual.

Pregnant Women: Women in the first trimester (3 months) of their pregnancy, and often throughout the entire pregnancy require significantly more sleep than they usually have.

Do We Need Less Sleep as We Get Older?

Sleep patterns do alter as we get older with older, people tending to sleep more lightly. As our bodies age our quality of sleep becomes poorer and becomes lighter, less efficient and unfortunately less restful.

As we age we experience less delta sleep, which is the deepest and most restful sleep phase we experience. Delta sleep is also associated with bodily growth and recovery. This decrease in delta sleep is experienced by men from around the age of 50 and for women at about 60 years of age. People in this age group often experience being easily affected by noise or other outside factors that a younger person would be able to sleep through.

The actual amount of sleep time on average does not decrease much between the ages of 20 and 70; the problem is that the incidence of sleep problems and disturbances does. Sleep time becomes lost because of outside interruptions and brief periods of wakefulness.

Some older people experience literally hundreds of short awakenings per night - sometimes just for 15 seconds or less. These short awakenings can lead the person to believe they have been awake all night even though they haven't been. Older people may also take more naps during the day which can affect the quality of their sleep.

What Happens if We Don't Get Enough Sleep

Missing one night of sleep isn't too bad for you. If you have something important happening the next day, like a job interview or something else mildly stressful, then it is only natural to experience some difficulty sleeping. Usually the adrenaline we produced on the big day kicks in, keeps us going and hopefully gets us through.

If we experience poor sleep for several nights in a row then we start to feel very tired and lose motivation to do much. Our attention span can suffer particularly if we need to concentrate on something that is quite boring, and our reactions may become slower. Monotonous activities are particularly difficult which is why the high incidence of road accidents being caused by tired people falling asleep at the wheel.

Missing sleep on a very regular basis, and other forms of chronic insomnia leads to a definite decrease in day to day performance and productivity; with serious problems concentrating and remembering words, names and numbers.

Seemingly small sleep losses that build up over days have a cumulative effect and people suffering from sleep deprivation may start to experience:

  • Attention lapses
  • Impaired ability to respond and dulled reactions
  • Irritability
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired mental function
  • Slow thinking
  • Erratic behavior
  • Mood swings, or
  • A decline in the ability to make good judgments

'How To Overcome Sleepless Nights' Audiobook

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