Knowing that total sleep deprivation in animals can bring certain death in a matter of weeks tells us this state of mind and body we call sleep must serve a vital, potentially many vital functions.

But over the past 50 years this push for understanding the normal function and importance of sleep has lead to recognition by both the public and the medical establishment that good sleep is one of three pillars of human health along with diet and exercise. Investigations of how, when, and for whom, the normal sleep process go awry has let to the identification of well over a hundred specific sleep disorders.

"Rather than a sleep disorder per se, this “sleep restriction” is entirely preventable with adequate sleep habits"

Exploring sleeping disorders

Sleep disorders can range from rare conditions such as narcolepsy, where the death of specific alerting cells in the brain make it difficult for such patients to maintain wakefulness during the day; to more common disorders such as sleep apnea where patients may awaken from stop breathing episodes up to 500 times per night, thereby chronically reducing the restorative quality of their sleep. And finally, the most common sleep disorder, insomnia, which has traditionally been treated with pharmacological agents, but is in the middle of a transformation through which cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has become a valuable and efficacious tool for the treatment of this unrelenting disorder.

The importance of removing self inflictedsleep restriction”

Disappointingly one of the most common sleep problems continues to be a simple voluntary lack of sleep opportunity. That is, not allowing enough time in bed to obtain the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. Rather than a sleep disorder per se, this “sleep restriction” is entirely preventable with adequate sleep habits, but regrettably, adequate sleep has fallen in our societies priority list, and the result has been continued sleepiness related automotive and industrial accidents acutely and a well documented detrimental impact on health over the long term including an increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disturbances among others.