Sleep: see sleep disorders and understand how to sleep better

Just as we need to eat, breathe and drink water, we also need to rest. Sleep is one of the things we have in common with other species as well.

How much we need to sleep and how we do it, however, is different for each person.

You may be a person with different routines and need to work at night and sleep during the day. By preference or not, you can spend the nights awake and only restore your energy in the morning.

Some (lucky) people are the type to lie down and then fall asleep. Others can spend hours and hours rolling from side to side, counting sheep or the little animal to try to fall asleep.

In addition to the time, we are also different in the position in which we sleep. We may prefer to sleep on our stomachs, on our sides, or on our backs. Listening to music, podcast, talking with partner or in silence. In total darkness or with a little light on. Regardless of all this, at one time or another we end up getting carried away by sleep.

It is evident that sleeping is part of our lives and that it does us good, but it is still difficult to complete the ideal amount of hours. With so many assumptions, it can be difficult to understand what is most appropriate.

We spend a third of our lives asleep and that is no small feat. In order for the other two to be used in the best way, it is important to understand the role of sleep.

In the following article, we will try to discuss it a bit and gather the main benefits of a quality sleep.


What happens when we go to sleep?

Sleeping is the state in which our organism is at rest, in which we have no conscious activities or voluntary movements.

While we sleep, our brain remains in a state of activity similar to the state of alertness (when we are awake), of extreme excitement and other states of mood, such as depression , fear and joy, for example.

Sleep is also defined as a stage of unconsciousness, in which the person may be awakened by a sensory stimulus or other interference, such as when we wake up due to some noise, because the covers fell on the floor (cold), by the touch of someone, etc.

For this reason, sleep is different from being in a coma or under general anesthesia. For, unlike sleeping, when an individual is in a coma he cannot be aroused by the same stimuli.

Thus, falling asleep is a natural and programmed way of our organism so that we can maintain health.

As it has different stages, going from a lighter to a deeper stage, sleep is divided into two main types, according to its characteristics and qualities. They are the sleep of slow waves – NREM and the sleep with fast eye movements – REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

There are several benefits associated with quality sleep. It is responsible for helping to preserve memory, strengthen the immune system, regulate appetite, provide more disposition for everyday life and avoid heart complications, for example.

Sleep deprivation is associated with premature aging, loss of resistance and physical strength, and memory is impaired and focus is also impaired.

It is also able to influence mood, sexuality and productivity during work and study. Thus, those who do not sleep well do not have a complete quality of life.

Sleep stages

During the sleep period, people go through two main stages, which alternate with each other. The first stage is known as slow wave sleep, because the brain has brain waves of great amplitude and very low frequency. The second stage, REM sleep, is one in which the eyes perform rapid movements.

When we are asleep, we remain mostly in the first stage of sleep, the slow wave.

It is possible that the sleep stages are also classified as REM (acronym for rapid eye movement) and NREM (acronym for non-rapid eye movement), in which NREM is divided into three phases.

Following this form of sleep classification, the sequence of normal sleep would be as follows: wakefulness, N1, N2, N3 and REM.

Better understand each one of them:

NREM or slow wave sleep

Slow-wave or NREM sleep is usually what we experience during the first hour of sleep after having spent a long period awake. It is further divided into 3 stages, the last being considered, in fact, the sleep of slow waves.

This is considered a restorative, relaxing and deep sleep. It is related to decreased peripheral vascular tone (reduced blood flow) and reduced activities such as breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.

During this phase, our brain understands that it will no longer be necessary to leave the motor system as active, so we hardly move. It is a way for our organism to protect us, mainly to avoid sleepwalking and possible accidents that this may cause.

This limitation of movement occurs as a response to the action of melatonin, a hormone that acts on the motor cortex and is released during the night to provide greater relaxation.

The production of melatonin is essential for a good night’s sleep, as the deficiency of this hormone is linked to the presence of sleep disorders and other diseases, considering the important role of the hormone for the immune system.

In addition to a decrease in limb movements, at this stage there is also a 10% to 30% reduction in blood pressure, respiratory rate and basal metabolic rate, maintaining the minimum amount of energy that our bodies need to perform the functions vital when we are at rest.

Contrary to popular belief, in slow wave sleep, often called “dreamless sleep”, we can also have dreams and nightmares. The main difference between dreams of slow wave sleep from dreams that happen in the REM stage is that they are not associated with a large body muscle activity.

In addition, dreams in this phase are rarely remembered, because during this stage there is no consolidation of dreams in memory.

Considering the phases of this sleep (N1, N2 and N3), the main characteristics are:

Light phase or N1

It lasts approximately 15 minutes, with the characteristic of the process of falling asleep. It is at this point that people begin to feel their muscles more relaxed, but brain activities are not yet fully inactive.

In this phase, brain waves slow down, oscillating between 4 and 12 times per second, which represents something close to 70% less than when we are on alert.

Middle phase or N2

It is characterized as a lighter sleep, in which the respiratory and cardiac systems slow down, and the body temperature begins to decrease.

Brain waves on the N2, called delta waves, are considered to be very slow. They oscillate between 4 and 7 times per second, sleep being the most distant from consciousness between all phases.

Deep phase or N3

At this stage, the body begins to go into deep sleep and the metabolism slows down. The body begins to replenish its energies and recover the health of the cells. It is also during this deep sleep that the body produces growth hormones.

Another characteristic of this stage is that it has the same frequency observed in people who do meditation.

REM sleep

Unlike slow wave sleep, the REM ( Rapid Eye Movement ) stage is not restorative sleep and is associated with lucid dreams. It usually occurs every 90 minutes, representing approximately 35% of young adults’ sleep time. These episodes can last between 5 to 30 minutes on a typical night’s sleep.

When the person is extremely sleepy, REM episodes are shorter, and may even be absent during the sleep period.

As people become more rested with the night, the duration of each episode of REM increases.

In humans, this interval phase is related to the functions of exercising, reorganizing and organizing memories, choosing what will be kept and what should be “thrown away”.

Therefore, when we are trying to learn something new, even a quick nap is essential to fix the new knowledge. However, the ideal is that the study is not as close to sleep, and it is recommended to keep an interval of 3h to 5h between the two activities.

REM phase dreams are also associated with the way we solve everyday problems, such as unconscious reflection. Most of them are routine situations, common everyday things.

Basically, it is in REM sleep that we have great brain activity, especially in relation to the activities of the brain, a central part of the nervous system.

Other features of this sleep stage include:

  • The fact that it is associated with dreams and active body muscle movements;
  • During the REM stage, it is more difficult to awaken by sensory stimuli, as in the slow wave stage;
  • People usually wake up spontaneously in the morning after an episode of REM sleep;
  • Muscle tone is significantly reduced, indicating inhibition of spinal cord control areas;
  • The heart and respiratory rate become irregular at this stage, which is characteristic of dreams;
  • In addition to eye movement, irregular muscle movements can also occur;
  • During REM, the brain is highly active and the global brain metabolism may be increasing by up to 20%. During an analysis using the electroencephalogram (EEG), it is possible to observe that the brain waves present a pattern similar to what happens when we are awake (in the waking state);
  • This stage is also called paradoxical sleep, because it is considered a paradox that a person may still be sleeping and have this great brain activity.

Although the REM stage is well studied and has several aspects clarified, it is still not possible to say why it happens and why it interrupts slow wave sleep.

However, it is known that drugs that disguise the action of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter present in learning and memory), increase the occurrence of this stage of sleep.

Why do we sleep?

Over the years, scientists have been able to understand a little more about this state of our organism. Although many mysteries remain, today it is possible to better understand how it positively affects our quality of life.

Until the mid-twentieth century, it was believed that during sleep the brain would shut down completely. Thus, he was able to restore his energies and rest.

Today, this restorative power of sleep is still one of the main theories of why we sleep.

During the 1980s, scientists carried out an experiment with awake rats and found that, regardless of a good diet, the animals die without sleeping. The same study was repeated during the 2000s and the result was the same.

Thus, it was possible to add the theories of sleep to the fact that it is essential for our survival.

In a study by the University of Surrey, which sought to analyze people who remained awake for 29 hours, it was observed that there was an increase in white blood cells (leukocytes), something similar to what happens with people who are injured or sick.

These leukocytes are responsible for the immune system, but when they are stimulated by a poor quality of sleep, they end up compromising the body’s ability to defend itself from infections or perceive the health condition.

These are some of the characteristics of sleep that support the theories. However, there are other hypotheses that try to explain sleep and its impact on the body.

The main ones are related to an evolutionary hypothesis and discuss the restorative and consolidating power of information. Understand these and other theories:

Evolutionary hypothesis

In addition to being a necessity, sleeping also says a lot about the routine of each species. We realize this when we compare the amount of sleep hours of men with the sleep period of other animals, such as bears that can hibernate for weeks, for example.

Already with horses and giraffes, they need to be aware of the presence of threats such as that of lions and other predators. In these animals, the resting time is much shorter, being equivalent to approximately 4 hours of sleep per day.

In marine animals, such as whales and dolphins, each half of the brain sleeps at once, as a relay. While one half remains at rest and saves energy, the other is charged with making the animal able to rise to the surface to breathe.

Human beings, like other animals, also tend to save energy. For this to happen, during sleep, metabolism slows down.

This association between metabolism and energy reserve occurred when researchers observed that large animals, which had a high metabolic rate, slept more than animals with lower metabolism.

Other sleep researchers understand that sleeping is an evolutionary strategy in which animals fall asleep according to their sensory abilities, considering factors such as the presence (or absence) of light.

Thus, animals that present a better performance of activities during the day will consequently have the night part to replenish their energies.

Another theory that can be interpreted as an evolutionary issue is the advantage of remaining silent or immobile during the night. Some species do not adapt very well to this period and do not know how to do their best in the dark.

For example, a monkey that does not see very well at night may understand that the best strategy is to keep quiet, not attracting the attention of other species until the sun rises again.

Thus, animals that do not sleep may be more vulnerable and at greater risk of dying, something considered as part of the theory of natural selection.

However, this hypothesis is controversial, as being unconscious is not considered positive from the point of view of self-defense. In the case of these animals, although not the most complete hypothesis, it is an important factor in understanding sleep in other species.

Restorative hypothesis

The restorative sleep hypothesis is associated with the process that the body undergoes during this period, capable of eliminating toxins and releasing anabolic hormones such as testosterone and GH, responsible for growth and essential for development.

The researchers who defend this theory believe that it is during NREM sleep (slow waves) that the restoration of body tissue occurs and that in REM sleep, brain restoration takes place.

A study by the University of Rochester, USA, found that the brain takes advantage of the moment we sleep to cleanse the body. In this phase, it is responsible for eliminating dead cells and beta-amyloid protein molecules, these molecules being one of the factors that cause Alzheimer’s.

Interestingly, dreams in which people are falling are related to restorative sleep and the release of GH (growth hormone).

Consolidation of information

Another hypothesis raised to justify sleep is the consolidation of information. According to this theory, we use sleep to forget or remember things better. This need is related to what happens during REM sleep, in which the memories that the brain deems important are fixed and the superficial ones are dismissed.

This theory was studied by researchers at the University of Freiburg, Germany, who reinforced the power of sleep in consolidating the learning and memories that we experience when we are awake.

What is chronotype?

The chronotype is a classification given according to people’s sleep habits. It is directly linked to the preferences of each individual in relation to the time of waking up or sleeping, as well as in the performance of physical and mental activities.

This chronotype refers to the biological rhythm of each individual and is divided into three: morning, afternoon and intermediate.

It is estimated that the population is divided between 45% to 55% of people who are intermediate, 30% in the morning and 20% in the afternoon, approximately.

Knowing your chronotype is important to understand when your body is performing best. It is not very difficult to identify the chronotype itself, just pay attention to how your body reacts to different periods of the day. Understand:


They are people who have a biological rhythm in which they prefer to sleep early and wake up early, performing their activities better during the day.

Normally, they do not have so much difficulty in waking up early to study or work, for example, as they have greater focus and concentration during this period, when compared to the evening.


It refers to the chronotype of people who prefer to sleep and wake up later and who have greater physical and mental performance during the afternoon or night.

An afternoon person who has a task for the next day as a deadline, for example, will not have great difficulties in staying awake until 2:00 am or 3:00 am to do it. While a morning person, however, would prefer to sleep at the usual time and wake up early to finish the activity.


They are people who do not have a clear difference between the periods, being able to perform the activities in the morning and afternoon periods in the same way.

Benefits of healthy sleep

Along with good nutrition and exercise, sleeping well is the third pillar of healthy living. In addition to interfering with health, healthy sleep also brings quality of life and helps us in other aspects, such as in our relationships with other people, because when we don’t sleep well we can become more irritable and sulky.

Among some of the most important functions of sleep are:

  • Prevent an accumulation of hormones released during the day due to stress;
  • Protect the organism against bacteria, viruses and other infectious agents;
  • Contribute to the physical development of children and the vitality of adults;
  • Help to regulate appetite and control the time of eating;
  • Protect the body from premature aging and prevent tumors.

In addition to these benefits, sleep is responsible for the following functions:

Fundamental to physical health

When we have a healthy sleep we become more willing, we present a better performance and more productivity in activities such as work, study and physical exercises.

In addition to positively influencing these activities, quality sleep also helps to prevent chronic diseases, fight infections and maintain a healthier weight.

Factors such as sleep deprivation or waking up several times during the night are associated with an increased risk of developing problems such as heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases and strokes.

Important for mental health

Sleeping well helps to balance mood and emotions. Sleep deprivation can end up causing irritability, also hampering treatment against anxiety and depression.

Improves focus and memory

Maintaining quality sleep is essential to improve memory and focus, because when deprived of sleep, we are not able to properly store information.

This happens because it is during rest that the synthesis of proteins responsible for neural connections occurs , in which learning and memory benefit.

While we sleep, the brain makes a selection of the memories that must be fixed and discards what it does not consider essential. Therefore, people who sleep poorly have a harder time remembering even simple events, such as the name of acquaintances or things that happened the day before.

Makes your life and that of others safer

In traffic or at risky work this is a determining factor for your health and for the people around you.

This happens because when we have quality sleep we become more alert, which is important in activities that require more attention. People who have a healthy sleep are less likely to have an accident while on the road or at work.

What happens when we don’t sleep?

Sleep deprivation can cause various damages to people’s health. Sleeping little or not sleeping causes changes in metabolism, in the endocrine system, in the immune system and in the cognitive system. It is able to interfere in our professional, personal life and also in learning.

Know some of the main consequences of sleep deprivation:

Damage to memory and attention

If we maintain a poor quality of sleep, we end up losing our potential to focus and keep new memories. We also started to have a harder time remembering simple things from day to day.

When we are preparing for an important presentation or an exam, such as the entrance exam, sleeping well is as important as studying, because it is during sleep that our brain chooses which information to store and which should be dispensed.

Além disso, quando dormimos bem conseguimos prestar atenção com mais facilidade nas coisas, tendo maior foco durante as atividades.

Há estudos que mostram que partes do cérebro podem estar adormecidas em pessoas que não dormiram o suficiente.

Nesse prejuízo à saúde, a expressão “dormindo acordado” se encaixa perfeitamente, pois com a privação do sono perdemos a atenção, a memória e nossa capacidade cognitiva.

Interfere na sexualidade

De acordo com uma pesquisa realizada pelo Instituto do Sono junto à Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp) este tipo de consequência da privação do sono é bem comum.

A falta de um sono de qualidade, além de interferir na motivação para a relação sexual, também acaba causando problemas como a disfunção sexual masculina.

Segundo a pesquisa, homens que não possuem um sono saudável apresentam 3 vezes mais chances de sofrer com problemas de ereção.

Além do sono prejudicado, outros problemas de saúde que também são considerados marcadores de risco para a função erétil são a diabetes, redução da testosterona, infartoapneia do sono e alterações cardiovasculares.

No caso das mulheres, a falta de um sono de qualidade também acaba interferindo na sexualidade. Em uma pesquisa feita pelo mesmo instituto em 2009, os resultados mostraram que as mulheres que dormem menos de 6 horas não sentem tanto prazer durante o ato sexual.

Favorece o surgimento de problemas cardíacos

Maintaining a life with poor sleep quality also interferes with heart health. The risks are associated with the number of hours slept, but also with sleep disorders.

In the case of apnea, for example, the risks of developing diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, suffering a stroke and arrhythmia are greater than in people who have a healthier sleep.

Contributes to weight gain

Sleep deprivation is a risk factor for those who want to maintain weight even in people who maintain a regulated diet. That’s because sleeping poorly interferes with metabolism and the production of hormones such as ghrelin and leptin, responsible for regulating hunger and appetite.

Thus, deprivation of healthy sleep ends up becoming a risk for diseases such as obesity and other complications, being even more harmful during childhood and adolescence.

In these age groups, sleep plays an important role in the development of the brain and, therefore, the lack of it impairs the function of the hypothalamus, responsible for appetite and energy expenditure.

Weakens the immune system

When people sleep little or have poor quality sleep, they end up suffering a weakened immune system. As a consequence, they suffer a greater risk of inflammation.

However, some studies point to a different behavior of the immune system in these conditions. According to researchers at the University of Surrey, in England, the genes present in inflammatory processes are more active when the body has a sleep deficit.

This is because the body understands that it is under stress and that it is necessary to prepare for possible inflammation. Thus, the organism prepares itself to attack an infectious agent, but it does not happen.

What could be beneficial, considering that the body is strengthening, ends up being harmful. This activation of the defense system is associated with damage such as heart disease and stroke.

Promotes catabolism

For those who are looking for muscle growth, as well as training and food, quality sleep is essential, because without good sleep the body can have a reduction in the synthesis of growth hormone, IGF-1.

In addition, not sleeping well intensifies muscle catabolism, which is a natural process in the body, in which there is a search for energy sources in the body, such as glucose, for example.

This process happens when someone practices exercise or if there is a reduction in glycogen reserves in the body. When an energy deficiency occurs, catabolism can end up damaging the muscles, using the amino acids present in them as energy.

Therefore, even if you train correctly every day and eat properly, when you sleep poorly, growth is impaired. So, for hypertrophy and maintaining healthy muscles, having quality sleep is essential.

Interferes with appearance and causes mood changes

Sleepless nights can cause a lot of damage to your health in the long run, but some effects are more immediate, such as bad mood, the appearance of tiredness and indisposition.

When we don’t get enough rest, it ends up reflecting on how we look and how we view everyday things. We can become more irritated and even frustrated with our performance after a bad night’s sleep.

Thus, in addition to the damage caused to physical health, we may even have a weakened self-esteem .

What happens when we sleep too much?

Although sleep is seen as the solution to many problems, too much should be avoided. There are some studies that link too much sleep to obesity problems, diabetes, headaches, depression, back pain and heart disease.

The fact that someone is sleeping more than necessary is often linked to some quality of sleep problem, such as people who wake up several times, for example.

These people may not be able to reach the deep phases of sleep with quality, feeling a greater need to sleep beyond what is considered ideal.

Thus, in addition to the affected restorative sleep, they also have a detriment in the production of hormones.

During the night, with each awakening, there is an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The frequent occurrence of this behavior can end up interfering in these functions and, in the long run, favor cardiovascular diseases.

To identify if you are sleeping more than necessary, it may be interesting to keep a sleep diary, recording the times you go to sleep, when you wake up and the symptoms manifested during the day.

Is it necessary to sleep 8 hours a night?

It is common to hear that the ideal would be to sleep 8 hours a day for a good quality of sleep, but much is discussed in relation to the number of hours established.

Before thinking about a fixed number of hours, it is necessary to understand that each person has different needs and that this also applies to sleep.

Some people need 8 hours a day or more of sleep to feel good, others not so much. This is something that can also change according to the age of the people.

To talk about a sleep routine, three aspects are important: quantity, quality and regularity.

For example, in the case of adults, most have good health and productivity when they are able to sleep for at least 7 hours, but that alone is not enough.

It is also necessary to analyze whether this number of hours slept was of quality. Among the things that can interrupt rest are excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, tobacco or sleep disorders.

Finally, regularity is fundamental. Sleeping at the right time and maintaining a daily pace is just as important as the other aspects mentioned.

How much do I need to sleep?

According to the National Sleep Foundation research institute in the United States, the recommended average for each age group is as follows:

0 to 3 months

At this age, newborns can spend up to two-thirds of their lives sleeping, with 50% of that time in REM sleep.

The recommended for them is to sleep between 14 to 17 hours a day, but it is also acceptable between 11 and 13 hours, and it is not advisable for the baby to exceed more than 18 hours of sleep per day.

4 to 11 months

It is advisable that babies at this age maintain a sleep routine that lasts between 12 and 15 hours, and can be between 11 and 13 hours a day too, not exceeding a period longer than 16 or 18 hours.

1 to 2 years

According to the National Sleep Foundation , the ideal for children in this age group is to maintain a sleep routine where they can sleep for 9 hours or more, not exceeding 15 or 16 hours. Thus, an average considered acceptable would be between 11 and 14 hours.

Unlike when they are newborns, from 1 year of age children have a 25% reduction in time in REM state.

This percentage, over time, ceases to oscillate and becomes so for most of life.

3 to 5 years

Preschoolers can maintain a routine of 10 to 13 hours of sleep, and it is recommended that they avoid sleeping less than 7 and more than 12 hours.

6 to 13 years

School-age children should be instructed to sleep between 9 and 11 hours a day.

14 to 17 years

In the case of adolescents, the amount defined by the institute’s specialists must be around 10 hours a day.

18 to 25 years

Young adults should not sleep less than 6 hours a day and also do not need to sleep more than 10 or 11 hours. It is recommended that they maintain a sleep routine between 7 and 9 hours.

26 to 64 years

Sleep is different in adults. At this stage of life, people wake up more easily, as there is a reduction in slow wave sleep.

After the age of 60, there is usually a significant increase in awakenings and an even more significant reduction in slow wave sleep.

For these reasons, it is common for people in this age group to have frequent sleep complaints.

Although it is not possible within the routine of all people in this age group, it is ideal that they sleep between 7 to 9 hours a day.

65 years or older

For the elderly, the recommendation is not much different, the healthiest for people in this age group is to maintain a routine of 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day.

What can affect the night’s sleep?

Many factors can influence the quality of sleep. They are not always issues related to health problems and for this reason they can be treated or recognized more easily, such as behavioral aspects, technological changes and the lifestyle adopted by people.

Even the introduction of electric lamps has been the subject of several studies, where they are considered one of the factors that led to changes in people’s sleep behavior.

Because of them, it is believed that we go to bed later and wake up two hours later than the previous generation.

Advancing a little more in technologies, the researchers also turn their attention to the use of electronic devices for reading, entertainment and communication before bedtime, which are more and more frequent in people’s daily lives.

The use of the cell phone before going to sleep, for example, is one of the points that should be studied more thoroughly, so that it is possible to measure the health consequences caused by this behavior.

In addition to these, other external factors can interfere with bedtime, the main ones include:

  • Changes in work shifts that may interfere with the circadian cycle;
  • Daily stress;
  • Noise pollution, such as noise in the street, snoring of the partner, etc;
  • Light pollution, such as cell phone light, other rooms or the street;
  • Sleeping outside the home;
  • Use of medications that interfere with sleep;
  • Bad eating habits, such as eating too close to bedtime;
  • Exercise before bedtime;
  • Use of toxic substances and exciting drugs;
  • Activities that leave you on alert or concerned, such as meetings, ending presentations, projects, fights, etc.

Sleep disorders

When we talk about sleep disorders or disorders, there are several problems that can cause people to seek medical help.

Most complaints are associated with difficulty in getting to sleep or maintaining sleep, such as when the patient wakes up several times during the night, or wakes up very early, does not have restorative sleep or exhibits abnormal behaviors while sleeping.

Other common conditions are the presence of fatigue or excessive sleepiness during the day, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, muscle pain and irritability.

The diagnosis of a sleep disorder is usually performed by doctors in the areas of neurology, psychiatry, pneumology and otorhinolaryngology. In general, people who have a sleep disorder are referred to specific centers for this type of care.

Patient assessment is based on a clinical analysis focusing on history and physical examination. Taking into account that we are not good witnesses of our own sleep, it is often necessary to detail other people, such as family members and companions.

Nessa avaliação, o médico deve buscar o início dos sintomas, fatores precipitantes (tais como fatores psicológicos), duração, gravidade e frequência dos sinais.

Os sintomas noturnos, que devem ser tratados com maior atenção, incluem ronco, apneia, dispneia (dificuldade de respirar), disfunção erétil, sonambulismo, refluxo gastroesofágico, nictúria (necessidade exagerada de fazer xixi à noite), movimento de pernas e paralisia do sono.

Outros sintomas que podem estar presente durante o dia e que são reflexo de distúrbios do sono são as alterações de humor, sonolência, dificuldade de memorização e concentração, diminuição da atenção em atividades como dirigir e queda de produtividade.

The use of medications, energy drinks or drinks that contain caffeine are also aspects that can influence the quality of sleep and the appearance of any disorder.

Understand a little better about these disorders:


The bruxism or teeth grinding, is a disorder in which there is a firm and frictional contact of the dental arches. Despite being a sleep disorder, it can also happen during the day.

This disease causes symptoms such as headaches, difficulty swallowing, speaking, daytime sleepiness and insomnia . Bruxism can happen at any age, but it is more common in adolescence and childhood.

Nocturnal Enuresis

Nocturnal enuresis is a condition in which the patient has involuntary nocturnal urination. It can be caused by several reasons, from physical problems (genital, neurological or hormonal) or psychological and genetic issues. Treatment is done according to the cause.


Sleepwalking is a more common sleep disorder during childhood, characterized by episodes in which the individual shows signs such as sitting on the bed and talking while sleeping, walking around the room or other rooms in the house, walking with eyes open, difficulty being awake and sudden reactions.

Another common feature in people who suffer from sleepwalking is the fact that they do not remember the episodes that occurred.

Treatment depends on factors such as severity and frequency of episodes. Among the treatment options are the use of medications and behavioral measures.

When sleepwalking occurs in the adult phase of the patient, a differential diagnosis is necessary to investigate the possibility of treating some neurological pathology, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, for example.


Insomnia is the most frequent sleep disorder in the population and can be caused by several factors, from physical problems (heart failure, lung disease, arthritis , etc.), psychological and social issues.

In addition, these factors may be associated with each other. Emotional issues such as anxiety and depression, for example, can be linked to concerns such as unemployment and health problems.

Essa condição também pode acontecer por motivos como troca de turnos em trabalhos, sexo e envelhecimento.

Por isso, a insônia é considerada mais um sintoma do que uma doença de fato. Para diagnosticá-la, o médico deve se basear na análise clínica e história do sono, verificando a possibilidade da interferência ocorrer pelo uso de drogas ou por transtornos psiquiátricos.

O tratamento pode ser diferente para cada paciente, pois é necessário entender o que provocou o sintoma. Assim, ele pode acontecer apenas com mudanças de comportamentos relacionados ao ato de dormir, bem como o uso de medicamentos prescritos pelo médico, psicoterapia e técnicas de relaxamento, por exemplo a meditação.

Síndrome da Apneia Obstrutiva

Obstructive Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is a common disease characterized by repeated episodes of sleep apnea, in which the patient stops breathing, which is severe and can lead to death.

Among other complications, OSAS can cause pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, direct heart failure and brain damage.

It is estimated that for every 3 individuals, 1 has obstructive sleep apnea, which is a chronic condition caused by some obstruction in the airways (such as when cold or flu) or by problems of neurological origin.

It is a disease that greatly impairs the quality of sleep, as interruptions can happen more than 50 times every hour.

Various symptoms are associated with the condition, such as loud snoring, excessive sleep during the day, headache on waking, memory loss, lack of sexual interest, often waking up during the night to urinate, irritability and waking up abruptly at night with lack of air.

Restless Legs Syndrome

The main feature of this syndrome is the constant feeling of tiredness and heaviness in the legs. It is a disorder that causes great discomfort, causing the patient to constantly need to move his legs.

During sleep, symptoms worsen. But with the performance of activities the condition can be minimized.

Excessive drowsiness

Excessive drowsiness is a symptom present throughout the patient’s day, when he cannot resist episodes of deep sleep at any time.

This type of symptom can be associated with other disorders or clinical conditions, so it is important to seek medical help to investigate the cause.

Treatment can vary, and can be done with the prescription of stimulating drugs, for example.

Night terror

Night terror is a disorder similar to sleepwalking. In it, the patient presents several episodes in which he can squirm, cry and scream uncontrollably during sleep, without remembering the next day.

It is a more common condition in children and, as it begins, ends spontaneously. Usually, he is more concerned about people who are close to the patient than he is, since he will not remember the episodes.

Generally, episodes of night terror tend to disappear as the child grows, and specific treatment is not necessary. However, in some people, the condition can become chronic or be an indication of other psychological disorders, such as anxiety.

Thus, it is important that the patient has a medical follow-up, especially when there is a risk of the child being injured during the night episodes.

What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a condition more common than imagined, capable of causing great discomfort and despair in those who go through these episodes.

The episode happens when we wake up during sleep, but we do not wake up completely, because our brain starts to wake up, but the body does not. This effect occurs due to something called muscle atony, a response from our body that protects us from injuries and helps us to relax.

The main symptoms of sleep paralysis are immobility and perceptions.

This paralysis (immobility) can happen just before the person falls asleep or when he is almost waking up in the morning.

Usually, during this moment of paralysis, the person feels desperate when he realizes that he is not able to move any part of the body, not even to speak. As long as the body remains immobile, the person who was suffering from the paralysis may be conscious, that is, be able to perceive what is happening around them.

É durante esse momento em que as crenças e mitos em relação a esse transtorno surgem, pois muitos pacientes relatam alucinações sensoriais, visuais e auditivas. Essas são algumas das características da paralisia do sono, chamadas de experiências hipnagógicas.

Apesar de ser assustador para muitas pessoas, a paralisia do sono não é algo sobrenatural, sendo apenas uma espécie de desarranjo do organismo ao despertar ou adormecer.

Os episódios podem durar apenas alguns segundos ou minutos e incluir, também,  pressão no peito e dificuldade de respirar.

É comum em pessoas que sofrem de sonolência diurna em excesso (narcolepsia) ou apneia do sono. Outras causas incluem o estresse excessivo, medicamentos, insônia, câimbras noturnas e sono irregular.

A paralisia do sono não possui tratamento específico, mas pode ser amenizada com melhores hábitos de vida. Uma boa alimentação, a prática de exercícios físicos, um maior cuidado com o uso de medicamentos e o consumo moderado de bebidas alcoólicas podem ajudar.

Normalmente, a paralisia é diagnosticada pela própria pessoa que sofre com a condição, sem a necessidade de exames de imagem ou laboratoriais.

Leia mais: Quais são os sintomas e causas da Paralisia do sono?

Dormir emagrece ou engorda?

Durante o sono, o nosso organismo continua consumindo energia e queimando calorias. Por isso e outros motivos, dormir não engorda. Pelo contrário, qualidade de sono é fundamental para o emagrecimento e também para o crescimento muscular (hipertrofia).

We can understand how sleep helps to lose weight by understanding the negative effects that our body suffers when we do not have quality sleep.

Sleeping poorly can affect your appetite, your mood, your willingness to exercise, triggering many other health problems that go beyond weight.

In addition, when we are not asleep, our brain begins to make wrong decisions, because the frontal lobe of the brain, which is fundamental for decision making and for controlling impulses, is impaired.

Added to these factors is also the fact that our brain reward center is exhausted and we have as a result an organism that has little resistance to treats.

There are several studies that seek to understand the relationship between sleep and obesity or the difficulty in maintaining weight. For example, a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition sought to show how our bodies behave when they are exhausted due to poor sleep quality.

In these conditions, we become more vulnerable and without control of our own food. Thus, we may end up acquiring habits like making snacks at night, usually rich in carbohydrates .

In the case of a study by the University of Chicago, participants who had sleep deprivation opted for snacks with 2 times more fat than those who maintained a sleep routine for at least 8 hours daily.

There are also studies that show a very direct relationship between individuals who sleep less and the greater likelihood of becoming obese, as this is a factor that interferes with the production of hormones responsible for increased hunger and appetite, as well as interfering with the choice of food. .

Therefore, as a form of prevention and treatment, health professionals should also encourage patients to seek a better quality of sleep.

Sleeping also helps you lose weight because it is during this process that our body releases the hormones leptin and ghrelin. They are essential for the body to remain balanced.

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that acts directly on the central nervous system. Its main function is to promote a lower food intake, sending messages to the brain that the storage of energy in the form of fat is enough for the person to maintain himself.

It is also important to accelerate the metabolism of fats and glucose, which provides energy expenditure and helps to regulate the neuroendocrine system.

This hormone is also released while we sleep, especially during the early hours of the morning. In this way, it manages to inhibit appetite.

Ghrelin, on the other hand, is known to be the hunger hormone, as it stimulates appetite. It is produced in the stomach, hypothalamus and cells of the pancreas, and is normally secreted when we are on an empty stomach.

Thus, these two hormones need to be released in a balanced way, as they have opposite effects. However, they have as a common characteristic the fact that they are released during sleep.

How to sleep better?

Some changes in habits can help and greatly improve the quality of sleep, without having to resort to the use of medications or specific treatments.

However, it is worth mentioning that the cases must be analyzed individually, especially when referring to sleep disorders, as they can be caused by more serious conditions, which require a medical evaluation and specific treatment.

However, there are some precautions that are within the reach of all of us and that will do good for anyone who is having trouble sleeping or who wants to continue maintaining quality sleep. Some of these habits are:

Regular hours

Just as we often need an alarm clock to wake up, the ideal thing would be for us to also have a way of controlling the time when we go to sleep.

Maintaining fixed times for waking up and getting up helps our body to establish a rhythm, which provides better quality of sleep and helps to avoid episodes of insomnia or excessive sleepiness. These times must also be maintained during the weekend and holidays.

Sleeping songs

The songs are present in various moments of our lives, being able to arouse different emotions. In relation to sleep, they can also help us.

Some studies show that listening to music before bed can help you relax and, thus, alleviate insomnia.

However, not all types of music are recommended. For those who are having difficulty sleeping, the ideal is to opt for playlists with calm and slow sounds, relaxing, hypnotic and contemplative rhythms.

Controlling breathing

Keeping a deeper, rhythmic breath helps the mind to calm down and the muscles to relax. There are several techniques and models that can be used to improve breathing. When it comes to falling asleep or in times of great stress, the 4-7-8 model can help.

To do this breathing, you need to settle in bed with your back straight and press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth.

Keeping this position and with your mouth closed, inhale through your nose counting to 4, hold your breath counting to 7 and exhale through your mouth counting to 8. Ideally, repeat until you complete four complete breaths.

Healthy eating

Eating nutrient-rich foods, in addition to helping with other aspects of health, also contributes to the quality of sleep. During the day, try to maintain balanced eating habits and close to bedtime opt for lighter meals.

Physical exercises

The biological cycle (circadian rhythm) is responsible for influencing the body’s functions such as digestion, wakefulness, sleep and cell renewal, and the practice of physical exercises is related to its functioning.

For the exercise practiced to be beneficial for the health of sleep, it is best to do it at times that are far from bedtime, at least 4 hours before bedtime. The time considered ideal for exercising, in this case, would be during the morning.

Avoid caffeinated drinks

It is recommended that the consumption of stimulating foods and drinks be avoided during the night, approximately from 5pm, as it can prevent sleep. Some drinks that should be avoided are coffee, mate tea, green tea, black tea and cola or guarana-based soft drinks.

Instead of these drinks, people can choose foods that stimulate sleep, such as warm milk or a calming tea, such as chamomile.

Comfort and silence

Having a comfortable and quiet room are favorable factors for a good night’s sleep. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to details such as choosing a suitable mattress, a good pillow, making use of curtains that make the room darker and paying attention to the temperature of the room.

Sleep hygiene measures

Despite the unusual name, sleep hygiene measures are simple changes during the day to day to improve the way we deal with this essential activity.

The measures listed above are some of the changes present in this sleep hygiene process. Other habits include:

  • Sleep only as long as necessary to feel rested, avoiding prolonging sleep even when you don’t have an appointment on the day;
  • In the case of people who have insomnia, it is also advisable to avoid naps during the day until sleep is regular during the night;
  • Avoid stimulating activities before bed, such as watching movies of genres such as action or horror, video games or staying on the computer / cell phone;
  • Use the bed only to sleep and have sex, avoiding associating other activities with it, such as work, study, reading, etc;
  • Seek relaxing activities before bed, such as deep breathing;
  • When lying down and not falling asleep within approximately 20 minutes, it is best to get up and try to return after a few minutes.

Home Remedies

The use of medicinal plants for home treatment or disease prevention is increasingly present in the culture of people who seek a healthy life. When it comes to sleeping, the use of some calming plants can also help.

For the benefits it can bring, the use of medicinal plants often ends up being the easiest, natural and first access option for those who are having problems with sleep.

The most suitable are the following:


Chamomile is a plant well known for being soothing, and chamomile tea is a drink widely consumed for this purpose or for its pleasant taste.

In addition to being a medicinal plant responsible for interfering with nervous excitement and insomnia, it also provides benefits for the digestive system, helping with food processing and preventing the formation of gases in the intestine.

In the case of insomnia, chamomile also works by reducing stress and anxiety, factors that are related to this sleep disorder. It can be taken at any time of the day, being recommended especially around bedtime.


Lavender, also known as true lavender, lavender or English lavender, is a plant with violet flowers well known for its aroma. It presents several health benefits, such as the aid in the treatment of cramps, anuria (decrease or lack of urine production) and sinusitis , for example.

It can be consumed by infusion (tea) or when present in products in the form of oils and lotions. In the case of insomnia patients, lavender is best indicated as tea or as an essential oil.

When preferring essential oil, the patient can choose to smell some droplets of lavender near bedtime or make a flavored pillow. To do this, simply place a little lavender in a tissue package and leave it inside the pillowcase.

Passion fruit

Passion fruit has several benefits. It can help to decrease anxiety, nervousness, high blood pressure and also problems like irregular sleep. It can be consumed as juice or in the form of tea, made with the leaves of the passion fruit tree.

They are the ones that present the highest concentration of soothing substances. However, despite the benefits, it is necessary to be careful with excessive consumption. They should also only be used when the passion fruit tree is in flower.


In addition to having a sedative and antispasmodic effect, valerian root is an important ingredient to help fight problems such as intestinal parasites, vomiting and gases.

Your tea is considered a home remedy to help ease sleep-related problems as it helps to reduce anxiety.


Tea made from the leaves of lemon balm has a calming action, is aromatic and contributes to control fever . It can also be used as an expectorant and to help treat diarrhea. In addition to consumption by infusion, it is also used as an essential oil.

Saint John’s herb

The plant can help those who suffer from problems sleeping, as it has an action similar to that of some antidepressant drugs. Thus, it helps to alleviate insomnia related to depression.

Sleep medications

In an ideal world, people would be able to solve their sleep disorder problems with simpler measures, without the need for medication. But, unfortunately, it is not always possible to alleviate disorders just by changing habits or home remedies, such as the consumption of relaxing teas.

In such cases, the use of some medications may be prescribed until the patient is able to normalize his clinical condition.

However, it is always worth remembering that the use of medications, for sleeping or for any other treatment, should be used only when necessary and under medical prescription.

Thus, it is necessary to first understand the type of sleep disorder suffered. After diagnosis, the doctor will be able to advise the patient on the use of the appropriate medication.


Melatonin is a neurohormone naturally produced by the pineal gland. In people with normal vision, this hormone is secreted during the night, with its peak release during the night.

Visually impaired people, who are unable to detect the presence of daylight, may end up suffering from an unregulated production of melatonin, because it occurs when the body begins to realize that it is dusk.

This hormone is used to treat primary sleep disorders, which are not related to other clinical conditions, psychological disorders or the use of medications.

Thus, it is recommended for patients with insomnia or who are unable to follow their circadian rhythm for reasons such as night shift work or jet lag, which is a change caused by trips to places with a very different time zone than usual .

In these cases, the doctor may recommend the use of melatonin so that these patients can regain their quality of sleep and life.

There are two ways in which the substance is used, they are the melatonin analogs and the fast-acting (most common) or prolonged-release synthetic melatonin.

In the latter, it means that, from time to time, the hormone is released and absorbed into the bloodstream, presenting a greater therapeutic effect.

Despite being a possible treatment for people with insomnia, the use of this medication is not yet a consensus.

There are some studies that show that the effects of melatonin are of little relevance when compared to placebo drugs. This is because not all types of insomnia have a good response to this sleep hormone.

In Brazil, for example, melatonin is not considered a safe substance by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). However, in some handling pharmacies, their sale is legal.

Thus, in order to gain access to this medicine, it is necessary to have a medical prescription for importation. The value of melatonin may vary, averaging R $ 120.00.

Hypnotics or sedatives

These medications can help treat patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders, but they should be used sparingly. This is because, although they help to solve problems related to sleep, they can cause dependence, tolerance, rebound effect and drug interactions.

For all these risks involved, they should only be used when the doctor understands that the benefits will outweigh the complications that may occur.

Thus, when prescribed, the ideal is that the patient maintains a routine of returning to the doctor to monitor the effects caused by the specific medication.

Within this group of drugs are benzodiazepines, melatonin analogues and non-benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines are part of the pharmaceutical class of anxiolytics , used to treat anxiety disorders. Some medications used include estazolam , flurazepam and temazepam.

Among the more recent non-benzodiazepines, hypnotics and with less side effects than benzodiazepines, are zaleplon and zolpidem .


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Common questions

Know some common doubts regarding sleep:

Is it valid to listen to audios to study while sleeping?

Unfortunately, no . Listening to audiobooks, podcasts or any type of audio while sleeping is not valid as the brain ignores most external stimuli, such as ringing and sounds.

So, sleeping while listening to something, like the subject for a test, will not be of great help, because you will not remember what you heard.

On the other hand, there are researchers who try to better understand how our brain works when it is exposed to stimuli during sleep.

According to research published by the journal Nature Communications , it was possible to observe that the brain is able to retain some information received in certain phases of sleep.

However, the studies previously carried out show still very contradictory results, since the ability to absorb new information during sleep varies according to the stages of the sleep cycle in which the person is.

In the case published by the magazine, people demonstrated a good memorization of sound patterns in the REM and N2 phases. However, it is not possible to state that this is possible for all people and whether it is an effective method.

How to sleep fast?

There is no recipe that works for everyone, but there are tips that can be tested and combined.

When it comes to a health issue, it is necessary to seek treatment. However, when we refer to more common factors, such as day-to-day stress, some habits can contribute to sleep come faster.

Having a comfortable environment, a dark room, keeping away from electronic devices, controlling your breathing, listening to music or taking a hot shower before going to bed are some tips.

Are some people more likely to develop a sleep disorder?

Yes , because there are some risk factors that increase the chances of certain disorders, such as age, gender, weight, anatomy, drug and alcohol consumption and other health problems, as in the case of mental disorders. For example, insomnia is often associated with anxiety and depression.

In the case of age, it is understood that sleep problems are more frequent in adults and the elderly than in children, who have more specific disorders.

Sleep disorders can affect men and women equally, but insomnia occurs more frequently in women, while men suffer more from sleep apnea.

Another issue that can be a risk factor is anatomy, considering that some people have structural abnormalities in the mouth, throat, sinuses or anywhere else in the respiratory system.

In general, to try to prevent it, the ideal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek medical help in the face of symptoms.

I was told that snoring. Should I be concerned?

Snoring can be a sign that something is wrong, as it is related to a series of health problems, such as obesity, deviated septum, sagging muscles in the throat and mouth, rhinitis , sinusitis, nasal and nasal obstructions. obstructive sleep apnea.

For these reasons, we can consider that snoring is a sign that it is necessary to investigate the cause, as it may be caused by a more serious health problem. In addition to being a risk to the health of those who snore, this symptom can also end up interfering with the quality of sleep of the partner, roommates and even neighbors.

How does coffee consumption affect sleep?

Coffee can be a negative factor in the quality of sleep due to caffeine, responsible for stimulating the brain. However, it is not simply the fact that it contains caffeine that makes it bad for sleep, it is also the amount consumed and the times.

Its effects can remain for a long period after consumption, as the body takes between 3 and 7 hours to metabolize the caffeine portion. The substance can also end up interfering with normal sleep patterns, preventing the body from having the REM stage.

Thus, people who want to guarantee a good night’s sleep, should avoid the consumption of teas, coffees or soft drinks during the afternoon.

How to prevent naps during the day from affecting sleep?

In certain situations, a quick nap during the day can be quite beneficial, as it helps to improve alertness in the short term.

In order not to disturb your sleep at night, these naps should be 20 to 30 minutes maximum.

So that sleep is not impaired during the night, the ideal is that people avoid naps after 3pm.

Busy routines, full of worries and commitments are part of many people’s lives. With such a fast pace, it is common for people to feel exhausted.

Because of this, you may have heard (or said) that the day should be longer than 24 hours, or that sleeping is a waste of time. However, this desire to stretch the day and reduce sleep hours at night is just a shot in the foot.

Not only sleeping, but sleeping with quality, is a necessity of our organism. We need to rest for the sake of physical and emotional health.

We seek to clarify the importance of healthy sleep and how people can have a higher quality of life from that. If you have a sleep disorder, it is important to understand that it is possible to seek treatment. To prevent it, some care is also needed.

Share this article with your friends and family! Thank you for reading and sweet dreams!