Sleeping soundly should come easy after a hard day at school or work. But, for many of us, nighttime slumber is disrupted by thoughts of our "to-do" list, worries about our studies or workload, or interruptions from roommates, children or snoring partners. One third of all American adults experience an occasional or persistent sleep disturbance known as insomnia. According to modest estimates, at least 20-30 million Americans suffer from insomnia.
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
The term "insomnia" describes trouble falling asleep, disrupted sleep or waking up too early. There are three types of insomnia: 1) transient insomnia -- lasting for a few nights;
2) short-term insomnia -- lasting up to three weeks; and 3) chronic insomnia -- lingering for up to a month or more.
Many factors lead to the disruption of normal sleep. Insomnia is a symptom of some larger problem related to lifestyle or physical or psychological health. This may include day-to-day pressures of job or school stress, psychological problems like anxiety or depression, or major events such as relationship problems, illness or death of a loved one.
The resulting fatigue of sleep deprivation can lead to increased stress, irritability, even catastrophe. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 car and truck accidents every year are related to lack of sleep. Fatigue can lower motivation and negatively impact job performance and personal relationships. Evidence also suggests that sleeplessness may compromise the immune system.