Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.
Center for Sleep Medicine
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
If you have sleep problems or trouble falling asleep, you’re not alone. More than one-quarter of the U.S. population experience sleep problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and an estimated 40 million people suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Research shows that sleep problems increase the risk of a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. There is also a strong connection between sleep and weight gain. Adults who sleep fewer than 7 hours a night are more likely to be overweight. Meanwhile, children who don't get enough sleep are at higher risk for childhood obesity and more likely to be overweight in adulthood.
There are many possible reasons for sleep problems. Some people have a diagnosable sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Certain medical conditions and medications may also interfere with sleep. But when poor sleep is the result of stress or lifestyle, better sleep habits can help you get more sleep.
Sleep experts advise that television, smart phones, laptops and e-readers can distract us and prevent us falling asleep, and so should be avoided before bed. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods late in the day is another good idea. Regular exercise and maintaining a regular bedtime can also help people fall asleep and get more sleep.
This Sleep topic includes information, videos and resources to help you understand sleep problems and get more sleep.
The average person spends about one-third of his or her life asleep; make the most of it. Please take some time to explore this section of our website.