When you’re afraid to sleep: Nightmares and nightmare disorders - teaser 

Did you know?
  • Some 100 million Americans do not get a good night's sleep.
  • About 40 million Americans suffer from long-term (chronic) disorders of sleep and wakefulness. Another 20 million Americans have sleeping disorders once in a while.
  • As you age, you sleep more lightly and for shorter amounts of time. About half of all people older than age 65 have sleeping problems.

Sleep and sleep disorders

Getting enough sleep is important. It affects your physical and mental health.

Too little sleep (even 1 hour too little each night) can create a "sleep debt." If the debt becomes too great, problems may result.

Too little sleep can lower your performance, concentration and reaction time. Too little sleep can cause:

  • accidents and injuries
  • behavior problems
  • physical problems
  • mood changes
  • memory lapses

If you feel drowsy during the day or if you fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Causes of sleep disorders

Common causes of sleep disorders include:

  • use of caffeine, decongestants or other stimulants
  • alcohol use
  • tobacco use
  • not taking the time to sleep
  • poor sleep hygiene

Although there are more than 80 types of sleep disorders, the most common include: sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome,periodic limb movement disorder and narcolepsy.

Reviewed By: Dr. Michael Schmitz, PsyD, LP, CBSM, Abbott Northwestern Hospital; Andrew Stiehm, MD, Allina Health clinics
First Published: 05/01/2009
Last Reviewed: 03/22/2016