Fall semester topics

Sleep disorders

American Psychological Association (APA) website states: "sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. For example, surveys conducted by the NSF (1999-2004) reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of those with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated. In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month - with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more. Furthermore, 69 percent of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.

Amount of sleep needed

Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can't perform at their peak unless they've slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn't decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced. (Van Dongen & Dinges, Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000)

What causes sleep problems?

Psychologists and other scientists who study the causes of sleep disorders have shown that such problems can directly or indirectly be tied to abnormalities in the following systems:

- Physiological systems
- Brain and nervous system
- Cardiovascular system
- Metabolic functions
- Immune system

Furthermore, unhealthy conditions, disorders and diseases can also cause sleep problems, including:

- Pathological sleepiness, insomnia and accidents
- Hypertension and elevated cardiovascular risks (MI, stroke)
- Emotional disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
- Obesity; metabolic syndrome and diabetes
- Alcohol and drug abuse
(Dinges, 2004)

Groups that are at particular risk for sleep deprivation include night shift workers, physicians (average sleep = 6.5 hours a day; residents = 5 hours a day), truck drivers, parents and teenagers. (American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Working Group on Problem Sleepiness. 1997.)" Sorce info

  • Sleep hygine 1.
  • Sleep hygine 2.
  • Informative website about sleep disorders & insomnia
  • Sleep center in Budapest for diagnosis (info in Hungarian)
  • Additional web resources