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Chronic sleep problems affect many people.  It impacts their careers, their safety and their health.

About one-third of American adults do not get adequate sleep needed for good health, according to the National Sleep Foundation.  Dr. Joseph Henkle, professor of pulmonary medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says continually getting less sleep than is needed can lead to health problems.

“It can affect your mood – lower your mood, make you feel more depressed.  Of course it can make you feel sleepy.  There can be consequences that one of which is decreased performance.  We simply won’t do things as well during the day when we haven’t had enough sleep.”

Dr. Henkle says chronic sleep loss can result in medical problems including a higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and metabolic changes.   Seven to eight hours of sleep per day is recommended for most adults.  He explains why people do not get enough sleep.

“In today’s culture, everybody’s pretty busy.  A lot of people work more.  They may have two jobs.  They may do shift work.  We’re a society that’s 24/7 now, so I think that contributes.  And then individuals may have things in their environment that is not conducive to sleep.  There’s a lot of computers and video games and TVs that are in bedrooms where they shouldn’t be ...”

Sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea also can prevent people from getting quality sleep.  These conditions are treatable, so if someone in your family has sleep problems, they should see a primary care physician for evaluation and possible treatment.   If the problem is severe, they may be referred to a sleep specialist.

Ruth Slottag