Did you know that each time you don't get enough sleep, you add to your "sleep debt"? As you accumulate a sleep debt you may not only feel sleepier during your waking hours, you increase your risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.
Getting enough sleep is just as important to your good health and well-being as getting enough daily exercise and eating a healthy diet. Even occasional sleep problems can make daily life feel more stressful and less productive.
Sleep is often overlooked as culprit to physical and mental health ailments and this in part because there is little education about the importance of getting a good night's sleep.
How much sleep do I need?
It is true that sleep needs may vary from person to person, however, most healthy adults need no more than of seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
If you answer yes to two or more of the following questions, you might be suffering from a serious medical condition and you should follow up with a physician.
- Do you snore loudly on a regular basis?
- Do you stop breathing or gasp for breath during your sleep?
- Do you feel sleepy or doze off while: watching TV, reading, riding in a car or performing other quiet day-time activities?
- Do you have hypertension or a history of heart disease?
- Do you feel an unpleasant tingling, creeping or nervousness in your legs while resting or trying to fall asleep?
- Do you have a neck size of more than 17" for a man or 16" for woman?
- Do you have frequent interruptions of sleep, because you urinate more than 2 times per night, have heartburn, or feel like you are suffocating during sleep?
- Do you experience regular episodes of insomnia?
Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep problems may be caused by or be the result of disorders in various systems of the body. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, is a respiratory disorder while narcolepsy is a neurological disorder. Learn more about these types of sleep problems in our Health Information Library:
What kinds of tools are used to diagnos a sleep issue?
Your physician may first want to give you a complete physical. They may also use some different assessment tools, like the questions above or the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) or Epworth sleepiness assessment to determine the severity of your sleep issues.
You physician may also determine that you need a sleep study, called polysomnography. This type of study involves monitoring your body while you sleep. This study takes place at a sleep lab, like the one available at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos. During the test a technician records electrical brain and muscle activity, and measures your breathing throughout the night. The entire process takes approximately 12 hours.
Ask your doctor for a referral to the Sleep Disorders Program
. Patients may be referred by a primary care physician, a specialist, or a psychiatrist. To learn more about the Sleep Lab, call 408-866-4070
to schedule an appointment.