Monday, November 2, 2009

Get Your Sleep - Part 2

I've written about the importance of sleep before, but there is new research linking sleep-deprivation to Alzheimer's disease. In the October 24, 2009 issue of "Science News," it's reported that not getting enough sleep could lead to plaques in the brain which lead to the death of neurons and to symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Lack of sleep may also lead to:
  • Increased hunger
  • Insulin resistance
  • Higher risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Increased obesity
  • Higher risk of heart disease
  • Increased inflammation
  • Greater chance for hardening of the arteries
  • Greater chance for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Decreased reaction time and accuracy
  • Immune system impairment
  • Declines in memory
  • Decline in judgment
  • Brain chemical changes that can lead to depression
  • Higher risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Increase in irritability, impatience,and moodiness
  • Higher risk for hypertension
  • Greater risk for accidents and mistakes
  • Increased use or abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs

There are techniques you can use to combat sleep problems:
  • Keep a regular schedule
  • Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bed
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and heavy meals before sleep
  • Get regular exercise
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool

Sleep is important, and while scientists can't fully explain how it works to restore the body and brain, they know that it does. So get your 7 to 8 hours a night. Keep in mind that younger children need more. Children 3-6 years of age should get 11-12 hours of sleep. Those aged 7-12 should sleep 10-11 hours each night. And 12-18 year-olds should be sleeping 8-9.5 hours a night.

Science News, October 24, 2009, pp. 11, 16-32

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