Neurosciences Institute


Answers to common
sleep health questions

You spend a third of your life sleeping. Even though your body can tell you when you need sleep, it is good to have the answers from commonly asked questions about sleep and sleep conditions.

Q: How much sleep do I need?
A: It varies by individual and age. Children and adolescents typically need more sleep than young and middle-aged adults. The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Q: How do I know if I'm getting enough sleep?
A: If you find yourself getting sleepy or falling asleep during the day, you probably need more sleep at night.

Q: What are the pros and cons of napping?
A: It depends on the time of day and the amount of sleep you have had recently. Most naps enhance alertness and reduce drowsiness. They may also help offset the effects of waking up frequently during the night, especially for older people.

Naps are refreshing and beneficial for most people as long as they don't interfere with nighttime sleep. However, naps are not a very efficient way to sleep because you're often just getting into the deeper sleep stage when your naptime ends. Also, overly long naps or naps that occur too close to bedtime can disrupt nighttime sleep.

Q: How does stress affect my sleep?
A: Our daily lives are filled with stress from work, relationships, finances, environment, health problems or other influences. Your body’s natural response to stress is to release adrenaline that hampers your ability to fall asleep. So the more stress you carry to bed with you, the more adrenaline is released and the harder it is for you to relax and sleep.

Q: How do caffeine and nicotine affect sleep quality?
A: Caffeine and nicotine are two major sources of sleep disruption. They fuel hormone production that raises blood pressure, increases heart rate, and stimulates brain activity. Because nicotine is also an addictive substance, smokers have additional sleep problems because they tend to wake up at night with a nicotine craving.

Q: How does alcohol affect sleep?
A: Alcohol is a depressant and, while it may relax you and help you fall asleep, it also disrupts the normal sleep cycle by reducing time spent in deep sleep. Alcohol is also addictive, so as your metabolism clears it from your body as you sleep, it also creates withdrawal, causing you to wake up.

If you still have questions, call the sleep health location nearest you.