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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WHY SLEEP IS REALLY GOOD FOR YOU


I said it in my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, and repeat it here again:  SLEEP IS REALLY GOOD FOR YOU.  That discussion was mostly qualitative.  Today, I report from the August 2013 issue of Scientific American, the National Sleep Foundation and WebMD.

Here are some interesting, and perhaps even 
surprising, findings (this article was written by Giulio Tonani and Chiara Cirelli)
  • Your brain remains just as active in sleep (same activity of firing neurons and energy consumption) as not.
  • However, while this sounds contradictory, sleep conserves energy and reduces stress on your nerve cells.
  • Interestingly enough, in our evolution, our brain increased in volume 2.5 times from Homo habilis (2 million years ago) to Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (they went extinct 30,000 years ago), but shrunk by 10% since then to what we are today.
  • This 3 pound organ (about 2% of your body weight) uses 20% of the energy consumed.
  • What sleep does is return your memory to a baseline, termed synaptic homeostasis, so you can better learn and adapt when you are awake.
  • All animals (and plants, too) sleep.
How much sleep do we actually get?
  • Age 20-30: 433.5 minutes (7.23 hours) 
  • Age 40-55: 409.9 minutes (6.83 hours)
  • Age 66-83: 390.4 minutes (6.51 hours)
So how much sleep do you need?


Some people have difficulty getting to sleep.  How do you compare with the average?
  • Age 20-30: 8.7 minutes 
  • Age 40-55: 11.7 minutes
  • Age 66-83: 14.2 minutes
The bigger problem for older folks, especially men, is that they need to wake up once or twice to take a pee.  Getting back to sleep can get difficult.  The older you are, the more you are apt to take sleeping pills.  They can kill.  Those who take this medication had a 3.5 times higher risk of death and 35% greater chance of cancer.  So what do you do?  Your call.

Also from the National Sleep Foundation, perhaps the following could help:
  • Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
  • Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep "sleep stealers" out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking
You might want to count sheep or read Lena's Sleep Sheep (only 24 pages long).


Mind you, there are other opinions.  Here is one from the BBC.

  • become more accident prone
  • get dumbed down
  • gain a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, etc.
  • lose your sex drive
  • become depressed
  • suffer enhanced skin aging
  • become more forgetful
  • gain weight (yes, the more you sleep, the less you will weigh)
  • suffer from judgement impairment
  • increase your chances for earlier death
Wow...ignore those detractors, I really do need to sleep a lot more!!!


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