Sleep is as important to health and life as are food and water. It is a restorative activity when the body repairs muscles, consolidates memory, restores energy, and releases hormones. If sleep time is cut short, the body does not have time to complete these tasks. Good sleep is essential for optimal health. Most people need between 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. However, the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person and depends on many factors, including age. For example, infants require more sleep than adults.
Many things can affect sleep, and sleep problems are common among all ages around the world. There are as many as 84 sleep disorders, and many of them are not recognized for years, leading to poor quality of life and unnecessary suffering. The number one sleep disorder is insomnia, followed by sleep apnea. Sleep hygiene will help nearly all sleep problems. It may be thought of as a series of habits and rituals that will improve the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some sleep disorders require the intervention of a physician, and sleep medicine has recently been recognized as a specialty of medicine. Physicians are now acquiring knowledge necessary for diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.