ABCs of ZZZZs -- When you Can't Sleep

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Does it often take you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night? Or do you wake up frequently during the night — or too early in the morning — and have a hard time going back to sleep? When you awaken, do you feel groggy and lethargic? Do you feel drowsy during the day particularly during monotonous situations?

If you answered "yes" to any one of these questions, you may have a "sleep debt" that is affecting you in ways you don’t even realize. And, you aren’t alone. A recent NSF Sleep in America poll found that a majority of American adults experience sleep problems. However, few recognize the importance of adequate rest, or are aware that effective methods of preventing and managing sleep problems now exist.

Why Do You Need Sleep?

Insomnia

Sleep is not merely a “time out” from our busy routines; it is essential for good health, mental and emotional functioning and safety. For instance, researchers have found that people with chronic insomnia are more likely than others to develop several kinds of psychiatric problems, and are also likely to make greater use of healthcare services.

People suffering from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea are at risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and motor vehicle crashes if left untreated.

Even occasional sleeping problems can make daily life feel more stressful or cause you to be less productive. In the NSF survey, those who said they had trouble getting enough sleep reported a greater difficulty concentrating, accomplishing required tasks and handling minor irritations. Overall, sleep loss has been found to impair the ability to perform tasks involving memory, learning, and logical reasoning. This may contribute to mistakes or unfulfilled potential at school or on the job and strained relationships at home. In fact, sleeplessness has been found to be a significant predictor of absenteeism. The direct and indirect impact of daytime sleepiness and sleep disorders on the national economy is estimated to be $100 billion annually.

Insufficient sleep can also be extremely dangerous, leading to serious or even fatal accidents. The National Highway Traffic