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Everyone needs sleep. It is almost as important to your health and wellbeing as food. Although your body always makes sure you get enough sleep to survive, getting enough sleep to feel refreshed, alert and ready to face the day isn’t always so easy.
The amount of sleep we need at night to feel refreshed and alert the next day is individual. Most people need 6 - 8 hours of sleep a night.
The amount and quality of sleep you get can be affected by many things, including:
Alcohol is often thought of as a sedative or calming drug. While alcohol might induce sleep, the quality of the sleep is often fragmented during the second half of the sleep period. Alcohol increases the number of times you awaken in the latter half of the night when its relaxing effect wears off. Alcohol prevents you from getting the deep sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep you need because alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep.
With continued consumption just before bedtime, alcohol's sleep-inducing effect might decrease but its disruptive effects continue or increase. The sleep disruption resulting from alcohol use might lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
Drug use can also affect people’s sleep patterns, particularly stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine, crack cocaine and ecstasy. It may take several days, weeks or months for your body to recover from using and therefore your sleep pattern may take time to re-settle. People with sleep problems can often try to self-medicate in order to induce sleep, taking over-the-counter remedies or buying prescription medication off the street or over the internet. This can start a vicious cycle of not being able to sleep, using medication to cope and then not being able to sleep without the medication, thus a dependency on medication begins.