Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it safe to only sleep a few hours per night?"
Never slept that much my whole life. I only get like 3 or 4 hours each night. Is this bad for the body? I'm only 22 now but I guess I should start getting more sleep if it can make me sick when I get older.
It is not safe to sleep for only a few hours on a daily basis. Over the long term, this will definitely cause multiple problems. Sleep deprivation can cause problems such as fatigue during the day, sleepiness during the day, changes in weight and can affect memory, alertness and concentration from its effects on brain function. In addition, lack of sleep can also cause muscle fatigue, headaches, general uneasiness, depression, inability to focus on tasks, affect judgment, decrease learning, cause stress, irritability and even obesity. It is very dangerous in addition, to even perform tasks such as driving a vehicle if you are sleep deprived. You should make an appointment to see a primary care physician to get treated for your symptoms as this level of sleep deprivation is not safe. Additionally, teenagers and young adults like yourself require 6-8 hours of sleep daily. Your doctor will be able to obtain a detailed history of your symptoms, ask questions about your sleep hygiene, perform a physical examination and determine how to best approach and treat you. In the meantime, you should try to stick to a sleep schedule, and attempt to get more sleep on a nightly basis so that you can wake up rejuvenated to perform daily tasks in a more efficient manner.
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