Test Your Sleep I.Q.


The following true or false statements test what you know about sleep. Correct answers and explanations follow.


  1. Sleep is a time when your body and brain shut down for rest and relaxation.
    True       False

  2. If you regularly doze off unintentionally during the day, you may need more than just a good night's sleep.
    True       False

  3. If you snore loudly and persistently at night and are sleepy during the day, you may have a sleep disorder.
    True       False

  4. Opening the car window or turning the radio up will keep the drowsy driver awake.
    True       False

  5. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder marked by "sleep attacks."
    True       False

  6. The primary cause of insomnia is worry.
    True       False

  7. One cause of not getting enough sleep is restless legs syndrome.
    True       False

  8. The body has a natural ability to adjust to different sleep schedules such as working different shifts or traveling through multiple time zones quickly.
    True       False

  9. People need less sleep as they grow older.
    True       False

  10. More people doze off at the wheel of a car in the early morning or midafternoon than in the evening.
    True       False

  11. You cannot learn to function normally with one or two fewer hours of sleep a night than you need.
    True       False

  12. Boredom makes you feel sleepy, even if you have had enough sleep.
    True       False

  13. Resting in bed with your eyes closed cannot satisfy your body's need for sleep.
    True       False

  14. Snoring is not harmful as long as it doesn't disturb others or wake you up.
    True       False

  15. Everyone dreams every night.
    True       False

  16. Most people don't know when they are sleepy.
    True       False

  17. Sleep disorders are mainly due to worry or psychological problems.
    True       False

  18. The human body never adjusts to night shift work.
    True       False

  19. Most sleep disorders go away even without treatment.
    True       False

  Answers to the Sleep I.Q.


  1. False
    Although it is a time when your body rests and restores its energy levels, sleep is an active state that affects both your physical and mental well-being. Adequate restful sleep, like diet and exercise, is critical to good health. Insufficient restful sleep can result in mental and physical health problems and possibly premature death.

  2. True
    Many people doze off unintentionally during the day despite getting their usual night of sleep. This could be a sign of a sleep disorder. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome. An untreated sleep disorder can reduce your daytime productivity, increase your risk of accidents, and put you at risk for illness and even early death.

  3. True
    Persistent loud snoring at night and daytime sleepiness are the main symptoms of a common and serious sleep disorder, sleep apnea. Another symptom is frequent long pauses in breathing during sleep, followed by choking and gasping for breath. People with sleep apnea don't get enough restful sleep, and their daytime performance is often seriously affected. Sleep apnea may also lead to hypertension, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. However, it can be treated, and the sleep apnea patient can live a normal life.

  4. False
    Opening the car window or turning the radio up may arouse a drowsy driver briefly, but this won't keep that person alert behind the wheel. Even mild drowsiness is enough to reduce concentration and reaction time. The sleep-deprived driver may nod off for a couple of seconds at a time without even knowing it—enough time to kill himself or someone else. It has been estimated that drowsy driving may account for an average of 56,000 reported accidents each year—claiming over 1,500 lives.

  5. True
    People with narcolepsy fall asleep uncontrollably —at any time of the day, in all types of situations— regardless of the amount or quality of sleep they've had the night before. Narcolepsy is characterized by these "sleep attacks," as well as by daytime sleepiness, episodes of muscle weakness or paralysis, and disrupted nighttime sleep. Although there is no known cure, medications and behavioral treatments can control symptoms, and people with narcolepsy can live normal lives.

  6. False
    Insomnia has many different causes, including physical and mental conditions and stress. Insomnia is the perception that you don't get enough sleep because you can't fall asleep or stay asleep or get back to sleep once you've awakened during the night. It affects people of all ages, usually for just an occasional night or two, but sometimes for weeks, months, or even years. Because insomnia can become a chronic problem, it is important to get it diagnosed and treated if it persists for more than a month.
  7. True
    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a medical condition distinguished by tingling sensations in the legs—and sometimes the arms—while sitting or lying still, especially at bedtime. The person with RLS needs to constantly stretch or move the legs to try to relieve these uncomfortable or painful symptoms. As a result, he or she has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and usually feels extremely sleepy and unable to function fully during the day. Good sleep habits and medication can help the person with RLS.

  8. False
    The human body's biological clock programs each person to feel sleepy during the nighttime hours and to be active during the daylight hours. So people who work the night shift and try to sleep during the day are constantly fighting their biological clocks. This puts them at risk of error and accident at work and of disturbed sleep. The same is true for people who travel through multiple time zones quickly; they get "jet lag" because they cannot maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule. Sleeping during the day in a dark, quiet bedroom and getting exposure to sufficient bright light at the right time can help improve daytime alertness.

  9. False
    As we get older, we don't need less sleep, but we often get less sleep. That's because our ability to sleep for long periods of time and to get into the deep restful stages of sleep decreases with age. Older people have more fragile sleep and are more easily disturbed by light, noise, and pain. They also may have medical condi-tions that contribute to sleep problems. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, getting exposure to natural outdoor light during the day, and sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet place at night may help.

  10. True
    Our bodies are programmed by our biological clock to experience two natural periods of sleepiness during the 24-hour day, regardless of the amount of sleep we've had in the previous 24 hours. The primary period is between about midnight and 7:00 a.m. A second period of less intense sleepiness is in the midafternoon, between about 1:00 and 3:00. This means that we are more at risk of falling asleep at the wheel at these times than in the evening—especially if we haven't been getting enough sleep.

  11. True
    Sleep need is biological. While children need more sleep than adults, how much sleep any individual needs is genetically determined. Most adults need eight hours of sleep to function at their best. How to determine what you need? Sleep until you wake on your own...without an alarm clock. Feel rested? That's your sleep need. You can teach yourself to sleep less, but not to need less sleep.

  12. False
    When people are active, they usually don't feel sleepy. When they take a break from activity, or feel bored, they may notice that they are sleepy. However, what causes sleepiness most is sleep loss: not getting the sleep you need. Adults who don't get enough good sleep feel sleepy when they're bored. Boredom, like a warm or dark room, doesn't cause sleepiness, it merely unmasks it.

  13. True
    Sleep is as necessary to health as food and water, and rest is no substitute for sleep. As noted above, sleep is an active process needed for health and alertness. When you don't get the sleep you need, your body builds up a sleep debt. Sooner or later, this debt must be paid...with sleep. If you drive when you're sleepy, you place yourself and others at risk because drowsy drivers can fall asleep at the wheel with little or no warning. Sleepiness contributes to driver inattention, which is related to one million crashes each year.

  14. False
    Snoring may indicate the presence of a life-threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea snore loudly and arouse repeatedly during the night, gasping for breath. These repeated awakenings lead to severe daytime sleepiness, which raises the risk for accidents and heart problems. Yet 95% of those with sleep apnea remain unaware that they have a serious disorder. The good news: With treatment, patients can improve their sleep and alertness, and reduce their risk for accidents and health problems. Physicians and sleep specialists should be consulted.

  15. True
    Though many people fail to remember their dreams, dreaming does occur for every person, every night. Dreams are most vivid during REM or rapid eye movement sleep.

  16. True
    Most people don't know when they're sleepy. Researchers have asked thousands of people over the years if they're sleepy, only to be told no...just before the individuals fell asleep! What does this mean? Many people don't know if they are sleepy, when they are sleepy, or why they are sleepy. When driving, don't think you can tough it out if you're sleepy but only a few miles from your destination. If you're sleepy enough, you can fall asleep...anywhere.

  17. False
    Stress is the number one reason people report insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep). However, stress accounts for only a fraction of the people who suffer either chronic insomnia or difficulty staying alert during the day. Sleep disorders have a variety of causes. Sleep apnea, for example, is caused by an obstruction of the airway during sleep. Narcolepsy, which is characterized by severe daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks, appears to be genetic. No one knows yet what causes restless legs syndrome, in which creepy, crawly feelings arise in the legs and are relieved, momentarily, by motion.

  18. True
    All living things (people, animals, even plants) have a circadian or about 24-hour rhythm. This affects when we feel sleepy and alert. Light and dark cycles set these circadian rhythms. When you travel across time zones, your circadian rhythm adjusts when the light and dark cycle changes. For shift workers, the light and dark cycle doesn't change. Therefore, a shift worker's circadian rhythm never adjusts. Whether you work the night shift or not, you are most likely to feel sleepy between midnight and six a.m. And no matter how many years one works a night shift, sleeping during the day remains difficult. Shift workers should avoid caffeine during the last half of their workdays, block out noise and light at bedtime, and stay away from alcohol and alerting activities before going to sleep.

  19. False
    Unfortunately, many people who suffer from sleep disorders don't realize that they have a disorder or that it can be treated. But sleep disorders don't disappear without treatment. Treatment may be behavioral (for example, going to sleep and waking at the same time every day, scheduling naps or losing weight), pharmacological (involving medication), surgical or a combination. Untreated sleep disorders may have serious negative effects, worsening quality of life, school and work performance, and relationships. Worse, untreated sleep disorders may lead to accidents and death.

How many answers did you get correct?
9 - 10 Correct
Congratulations! You know a lot about sleep. Share this information with your family and friends.

7 - 8 Correct
Very Good.

Fewer than 7 correct
Go over the answers and try to learn more about sleep.

Sources: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
National Institutes of Health

National Sleep Foundation
NHLBI Information Center
P. O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
(301) 251-1222
Fax (301) 251-1223

For more information about sleep and sleep-related problems and disorders, or to order brochures that address these issues, visit the National Sleep Foundation's Web site at www.sleepfoundation.org, or write to National Sleep Foundation, 1522 K Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005.