Think of your daily activities. Which activity is so important you
should devote one-third of your time to doing it? Probably the irst
things that come to mind are working, spending time with your
family, or doing leisure activities. But there’s something else you
should be doing about one-third of your time—sleeping.
Many people view sleep as merely a “down time” when their brains
shut off and their bodies rest. People may cut back on sleep, think
ing it won’t be a problem, because other responsibilities seem much
more important. But research shows that a number of vital tasks
carried out during sleep help people stay healthy and function at
While you sleep, your brain is hard at work forming the pathways
necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights.
Without enough sleep, you can’t focus and pay attention or respond
quickly. A lack of sleep may even cause
mood problems. Also, growing
evidence shows that a chronic
lack of sleep increases your risk
of obesity, diabetes, cardiovas
cular disease, and infections
Despite growing support for the idea that adequate sleep, like
adequate nutrition and physical activity, is vital to our well-being,
people are sleeping less. The nonstop “24/7” nature of the world
today encourages longer or nighttime work hours and offers
continual access to entertainment and other activities. To keep up,
people cut back on sleep.
A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep
(such as less than 6 hours a night) with no adverse effects. Research
suggests, however, that adults need at least 7–8 hours of sleep each
night to be well rested. Indeed, in 1910, most people slept 9 hours a
night. But recent surveys show the average adult now sleeps fewer
than 7 hours a night. More than one-third of adults report daytime
sleepiness so severe that it interferes with work, driving, and social
functioning at least a few days each month.
Evidence also shows that children’s and adolescents’ sleep is shorter
than recommended. These trends have been linked to increased
exposure to electronic media. Lack of sleep may have a direct effect
on children’s health, behavior, and development.
Chronic sleep loss or sleep disorders may
affect as many as 70 million Americans.
This may result in an annual cost of
$16 billion in health care
expenses and $50 billion in
lost productivity. 3
What happens when you don’t get enough
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Can you make up
for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends?
How does sleep change as you become older? Is snoring a problem?
How can you tell if you have a sleep disorder? Read on to ind the
answers to these questions and to better understand what sleep is
and why it is so necessary. Learn about common sleep myths and
practical tips for getting enough sleep, coping with jet lag and
nighttime shift work, and avoiding dangerous drowsy driving.
Many common sleep disorders go unrecognized and thus are not
treated. This booklet also gives the latest information on sleep
disorders such as insomnia (trouble falling or
staying asleep), sleep apnea (pauses in
breathing during sleep), restless legs
syndrome, narcolepsy (extreme daytime
sleepiness), and parasomnias (abnormal