Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is sleep?
- What are the stages of 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?
- Sleep FAQs
- Find a local Sleep Specialist in your town
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.
Medically reviewed by Peter O'Connor, MD; American Board of Otolaryngology with subspecialty in Sleep Medicine
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
NIH.gov. Brain basics: Understanding sleep.
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