Site Map

Sleep and your health

As life gets more hectic, it is all too easy to go without sleep. In fact, many Americans only get 6 hours of sleep a night or less.

You need ample sleep to help restore your brain and body. Not getting enough sleep can be bad for your health in a number of ways.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Why you Need Sleep

Sleep gives your body and brain time to recover from the stresses of the day. After a good night's sleep, you perform better and are better at making decisions. Sleep can help you feel more alert, optimistic, and get along with people better. Sleep also helps your body ward off disease.

How Much Sleep do you Need

Different people need different amounts of sleep. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night for good health and mental functioning. Some adults need up to 9 hours a night.

Why you Might not get Enough Sleep

There are many reasons why sleep is in such short supply.

Sleep disorders

Sleep problems are a big reason why many people can't get enough sleep. Treatment can help in many cases.

Sleep and Safety

Lack of sleep affects more than just the person who is short on shut-eye. Fatigue has been linked to accidents both large and small. Overtiredness led to the human errors behind several large disasters including the Exxon-Valdez oil spill and the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Poor sleep has contributed to numerous airplane crashes.

Each year, up to 100,000 car accidents and 1,550 deaths are caused by exhausted drivers. Drowsy driving impairs alertness and reaction time as much as driving while drunk.

Lack of sleep can also make it harder to stay safe on the job. It can lead to medical errors and industrial accidents.

Sleep and Your Health

Without enough sleep, your brain struggles to perform basic functions. You may find it hard to concentrate or remember things. You may become moody and lash out at co-workers or people you love.

Just as your brain needs sleep to restore itself, so does your body does too. When you do not have enough sleep, your risk goes up for several illnesses.

When to Call the Doctor

Talk with your health care provider if you are often tired during the day, or lack of sleep makes it hard to do daily activities. There are treatments available to improve sleep.

References

Carskadon MA, Dement WC. Normal human sleep: an overview. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 2.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Sleep and sleep disorders. www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html. Updated February 22, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2018.

Drake CL, Wright KP. Shift work, shift-work disorder, and jet lag. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 75.

Philip P, Sagaspe P, Taillard J. Drowsiness in transportation workers. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 74.

Van Dongen HPA, Balkin TJ, Hursh SR. Performance deficits during sleep loss and their operational consequences. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 71.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 8/3/2018  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.