- Causes of Fatigue Slideshow Pictures
- Sleep Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
- Sleep Slideshow: Foods That Help or Harm Your Sleep
- Sleep FAQs
- Patient Comments: Sleep - Problems Experienced
- Patient Comments: Sleep - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Sleep - Deprivation Symptoms
- Find a local Sleep Specialist in your town
- What is sleep?
- What causes the body to sleep?
- What are the stages of sleep?
- How long does it take to get REM sleep?
- Why is REM sleep important?
- What percentage of sleep should be deep sleep?
- How much sleep does a person need?
- Does the amount of sleep we need change as we age?
- What are signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation?
- What are and what causes sleep disorders?
- How are sleep problems diagnosed?
- How are sleep problems treated?
- Sleep hygiene
- Other therapies
- Sleep aids (prescription and OTC)
- Are sleep problems and disease related?
- How can I get a good night's sleep?
Quick GuideSleep Disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and More
Are sleep problems and disease related?
Sleep problems occur in a number of different medical and psychiatric conditions. For example, asthma attacks and stroke are conditions that tend to occur frequently during the night or early morning hours. The relationship between sleep stages and certain types of epileptic seizures is complex and not completely understood, but certain sleep stages tend to either exacerbate or prevent the spread of seizure activity in the brain.
Sleep problems occur with chronic pain and conditions in which pain is worse at night, because the pain may interfere with sleep. Pain medications and other types of medications taken on a regular basis for chronic conditions can also have an effect on an individual's sleep pattern. Those suffering from cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and brain injury are also commonly affected by sleep disturbances.
Psychiatric diseases such as depression are also associated with sleep problems. This condition can be associated with both too much sleep and too little sleep. In fact, sleep problems are associated with a majority of mental disorders, and poor quality or insufficient sleep can worsen the symptoms of mental or psychiatric conditions.
How can I get a good night's sleep?
Practicing good sleep hygiene (see above), including maintenance of a regular bedtime and awakening schedule, is the best way to ensure restful and restorative sleep. Avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and strenuous exercise in the hours prior to bedtime can also help improve the quality of your sleep. Many people report that they lie awake at night worrying about problems or situations they will face during the coming day. In this case, it can be helpful to write a to-do list or a list of items to act upon the following day prior to bedtime, giving yourself permission to "let go" of these items during the night.
If you are concerned about the quality of your sleep or if you have the symptoms of a sleep disorder, it is important to consult your health care practitioner. He or she can help you determine the cause of your sleep problem and recommend appropriate therapy.
Iber, C, Ancoli-Israel, S, Chesson, A, Quan, SF. The AASM Manual for the Scoring of Sleep and Associated Events: Rules, Terminology, and Technical Specification, 1st ed, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Westchester, Illinois 2007.
He, Y, Jones, CR, Fujiki, N, et al., The transcriptional repressor DEC2 regulates sleep length in mammals, Science, 325: 866–70, 2009
Tononi, G. and C. Cirelli. "Perchance to prune. During sleep, the brain weakens the connections among nerve cells, apparently conserving energy and, paradoxically, aiding memory." Scientific American 309.2 (2013): 34-39.
NIH.gov. Brain basics: Understanding sleep.