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Sleep health centre

Sleep overview

Sleep problems, including snoring, sleep apnoea, insomnia, sleep deprivation and restless legs syndrome, affect millions of people in the UK. It's important to understand why sleep is necessary for optimal health, how the natural hormone melatonin affects sleep, and how the different states and stages of sleep impact our sleep quality, quantity and dreams.

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Types of sleep disorders

Sleep disorders describe problems people have getting to sleep, staying asleep, getting enough sleep and disturbances during sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for our overall health, so seek medical advice if you have a sleep problem.

Sleep can be divided into two types: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM (NREM) sleep. NREM sleep has four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Stage 1 sleep is the lightest, while stage 4 is the deepest.



During normal sleep, you move cyclically through these types and stages of sleep. But if your sleep is repeatedly interrupted and you are unable to progress normally through REM and NREM sleep, you may feel tired, fatigued, and have trouble concentrating and paying attention while awake. Sleepy individuals are more likely to have accidents while driving, as well as other types of accidents.



If you have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping through the night, if you wake up too early or find it hard to wake up at all, or if you are exceptionally tired during the day, you may have one of the following sleep problems.

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