Sleep Facts: What You Need To Know

Sleep is one of our major physiological needs, on the same level with the requirement to eat regularly and drink water throughout the day. As you know, whenever you're hungry, you'll go out of your way to find some food; the same goes for water. Your body has similar demands for sleep and will allow little, if any, tampering on your part. And if you try to deprive yourself of sleep, you're going to pay for it with impaired quality of life, a suppressed immune system, memory problems, and cardiac issues, to name just a few.
There's nothing better than a sound night's sleep to get us going in the morning so we're refreshed, our batteries are recharged, and we're ready to take on another day. When you sleep well, you're more productive, creative, and sociable.
But for many adults, getting a good night's sleep is often a major problem.
The prevalence of any OSA (defined as an apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] ≥5 events per hour) is estimated to be 33.9% in men and 17.4% in women – 25% on average (1).
Every day, doctors hear from both men and women that they have a loss of energy, they're weary throughout the day, or they have trouble falling asleep, or they wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling back asleep. Many complain that their bed partners snore loudly and then gasp for breath throughout the night. And even though many people are spending seven to eight hours in bed, they're actually spending less time sleeping.

How much sleep do we really need?

Following are the recommended hours of sleep according to the USA sleep foundation:

Why You Need A Good Night's Sleep

It's sleep that rests and restores your body. During sleep, growth hormones are released, which help renew body tissues and form new red blood cells. Parathormone, a hormone responsible for calcium in the blood, reaches its peak during sleep. Researchers have also found that deep sleep helps the body mobilize its defenses against illness.
Most of all, we need a good sleep to help rejuvenate ourselves mentally. If you miss too much sleep, it is your brain that suffers. You can experience:

  • Dramatic mood shifts
  • Depression
  • Feel overly fatigued
  • Disturbed
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Forget things
  • Agitated
  • Irritable
  • Make poor decisions

Although each of us has a unique sleep pattern, one sleep characteristic we all share is a minimum daily requirement for sleep.
Car fatalities are a grim reminder of this: Thousands of people literally pay for their chronic sleep deprivation each year with their lives by driving while drowsy and falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle.

Bottom Line: You need enough hours of sleep each night so you feel alert and rested the following day.
If you sleep poorly several nights a week and don’t meet your genetic requirement of five, seven, or eight hours per night, you can quickly accumulate a dangerous sleep debt. This is neither good for your health nor your longevity.

Sleep Myths, Fictions - and Facts

Most people sleep every day, although we still don’t know exactly why we remain in suspended consciousness for varying amounts of time. Many aspects of sleep are still wrapped in myth, but sleep experts are hard at work to dispel them.
Here are six of the most common myths about sleep, along with the facts to refute them:

1.Everyone needs eight hours of sleep a night. This myth has been touted as the gold standard, but look at eight hours as an average amount of sleep needed. Some people do fine with seven hours, while others can’t function well without nine. Sleep is an individual need. To find yours, most sleep experts agree that the amount of sleep you need is that amount that leaves you feeling fully rested the next day.

2.You need less sleep as you age. While no one is certain that older people need less sleep, many people tend to get less sleep as they age than they did when they were younger. However, less time in bed for an older person can be due to a variety of factors, including children, work, fragmented sleep caused by nighttime trips to the bathroom to urinate, prescription medications that disturb sleep, and sleep apnea. If you regularly feel groggy when you awaken, and if your bed partner complains that you have been snoring and seem to be gasping for breath, contact your physician. You may have sleep apnea.

3. Snoring isn’t harmful. People have snored for as long as records have been kept of this nocturnal bombast. While many people snore and it has no impact on their health (other than keeping a bed partner awake and impacting their health), loud snoring can be a tipoff to sleep apnea, a potentially life threatening breathing disorder characterized by frequent disruptions of breathing during sleep.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but almost everyone who has sleep apnea snores! If you believe that you may not just be snoring but actually suffering from sleep apnea, then be sure to speak to your doctor about an at-home sleep apnea test with WatchPAT. Case Study: Snoring Remedies

4.Feeling sleepy during the daytime is just a sign that you have not been getting enough sleep. If a person gets enough sleep at night they should not consistently feel drowsy during the day. While going to bed later than usual can certainly leave you feeling very sleepy and “out of it” the next day, many people feel drowsy all of the time, even though they keep strict bedtime hours. This is not normal and should raise significant concern.
Sleep apnea, a serious medical condition, may actually be the cause of this daytime drowsiness. This ailment can cause a person to awaken momentarily—unaware of what happened—as much as 40 or more times an hour throughout the night. Consequently, people spend more time in Stage 1 NREM sleep, which is the lightest and least restorative of the sleep stages. Significantly less time is spent in Stages 3 and 4, the deep,restorative dream stages where the body carries out much of its daily restoration and repair. When people wake up, they feel sleep deprived, lethargic, and fatigued. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, then speak to your doctor about an at-home sleep apnea test with WatchPAT.
For more information about WatchPAT click here.

5.Obesity, hypertension, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, depression, and heart disease are separate and distinct medical issues and have no link to sleep For far too long, doctors and patients alike just assumed that one went to bed at night and woke up in the morning and that was the end of it. Sleep experts now know that a poor night’s sleep is linked both directly and indirectly to almost all medical conditions. Sleep apnea actually is a major contributor to a host of medical issues, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, heart failure, stroke, and premature death. If you are suffering from any of these ailments, speak to your doctor about an at-home sleep apnea test with WatchPAT.

6.Only overweight and obese men develop sleep apnea. The sad fact about sleep apnea is that the vast majority of people, regardless of gender, go undiagnosed and suffer because of it. The reality is that millions of menand women develop sleep apnea, and not all of them are obese or overweight. However, your risk of developing sleep apnea increases greatly if you:

  • are male (upwards of 24% of men have sleep apnea compared to 4 to 15% of women)
  • are overweight (extra weight causes the upper airway to collapse during sleep, forcing the sleeper to choke, gasp, and briefly awaken so he/she can inhale)
  • are a smoker (those who smoke two packs a day have a 40% higher risk of developing sleep apnea than nonsmokers)
  • have a family history of sleep apnea (risk may increase four-fold)

More WatchPAT info for Patients:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What is WatchPAT?
Sleep Facts
WatchPAT Videos