Sleep disorders are very frequent, affecting from 30 to 45% of the population and constituting a public health problem. Sleep Medicine has evolved in a very important way in the last 10 years, knowing the negative impact for health that both sleep deficit and poor quality have.
The dream is our "repair shop", through which we need to spend every night and do it during the right time and in the proper way. Sleep needs will vary according to age and personal requirements, but on average, we can say that an adult needs about 8 hours of nighttime sleep.
When we do not sleep enough or the sleep is not of quality the consequences the following day are obvious: our head hurts, we are irritable, we have problems concentrating on work or school (children), with memory and learning problems and daytime sleepiness, with the risk of accidents that this entails. In the long term, the consequences of sleep deprivation are well known: increased risk of cardiovascular problems, obesity and diabetes, immunological problems and some types of cancer, anxiety, depression, school or work failure.
There are more than 80 sleep disorders described that will alter our rest, affecting our wakefulness and our health. One of the most frequent is insomnia, which affects 30 to 45% of the adult population. In recent years, due to the change in life habits and the increasingly frequent presence of electronic devices in the night hours prior to sleep, 35-45% of the population is deprived of sleep. In fact, we Spaniards are the Europeans who least sleep (7.12 hours, almost one less than the rest of the continent). Sleep apnea, snoring patients who stop breathing while they sleep, affects 4% of the population, with serious consequences for the cardiovascular system, having a very effective treatment. Restless Legs Syndrome affects from 3 to 10% of the population and is more frequent in women, being a frequent cause of insomnia.
Children also suffer from sleep disorders. The presence of preschoolers, schoolchildren and adolescents in the Sleep Units is becoming more frequent, with problems sleeping at night: many of them fall asleep at 24.00 hours and have to get up between the 7.00 and the 8.00 of the tomorrow, with which they sleep much less of the minimum of 10.5 recommended hours in the children and of the 9 in the adolescents. The consequences are immediate: they fall asleep in the first hours of class, they do not attend, they do not concentrate, they diminish their learning and their school performance, also generating family problems. Several factors contribute to everything: on the one hand, the frenetic pace of life we lead (school, extracurricular activities, homework) reducing the importance and time of sleep, the increasing presence of mobile phones, tablets and computers in the hours before sleep and changes in lifestyle (greater sedentary lifestyle-obesity).
It is very important that the population knows the negative consequences of sleep disorders for health and physical and emotional well-being, and that sleep disorders are treated.
Dr. Paula Giménez
Clinical and Medical Neurophysiologist Expert in Sleep Medicine.
Clinic Saint Charles, Denia.