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Questions and Answers on Sleep Disorders

Questions and Answers on Sleep Disorders

Sleep is absolutely essential for normal, healthy function. Studies have shown that sleep is essential for normal immune system function and to maintain the ability to fight disease and sickness. It is essential for normal nervous system function and the ability to function both physically and mentally. In addition, sleep is essential for learning and for normal, healthy cell growth.

The amount of sleep that a person needs to function in a normal manner depends on several factors, including age. Infants need about 16 hours; teenagers usually need about 9 hours; and adults need approximately 7 to 8 hours a day. Although older adults require about as much sleep as younger adults, they usually sleep for shorter periods of time and spend less time in deep stages of sleep. Many adults over the age of 65 have some type of sleep disorder, although it is not clear whether this is a normal part of aging or a result of other factors, such as medication.

There are more than 70 different sleep disorders, which are generally classified into one of three categories – lack of sleep (e.g. insomnia), disturbed sleep (e.g. sleep apnea) and excessive sleep (e.g. narcolepsy).

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