Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can you ever catch up on sleep?

Can you ever catch up on sleep?Forget the economy. Your sleep debt may be hurting you more than your dwindling 401(K) or tightening grocery budget. If the hours of rest you're getting is on a downturn, is it ever possible to make up all that lost sleep?

The answer, according to this article in Scientific American, is yes, but only if you are willing to commit to recovering all (and more) of the sleep you've already lost.

Here are a few key points from the article to consider as you catch up on your own sleep:

* Think you no longer require a full night's sleep? You're fooling yourself. A 2003 study showed that the less sleep we get, the less tired our bodies feel. That doesn't mean, however, we need fewer hours.

* Scientists believe that our sleep patterns are genetically influenced. Some us need six hours of sleep while others need ten, which is why eight hours of rest is recommended across the board. Most Americans log 6.8 hours on weekdays and another half an hour on the weekends.

* Short-term sleep deprivation can cause irritability (I know, no duh), impaired vision and memory lapses. Over the long term, however, sleep debt is linked to heart disease, obesity and insulin resistance. Yikes.

* The equation of sleep recovery is simple. Deep sleep not only helps your body rest, it is a period of restoration for your brain. The more time you spend sleeping deeply, the more opportunity your brain has to recharge.

* The best recovery program involves going to bed when you feel tired and ditching the alarm clock so you wake when your body's ready. Since following your natural sleep rhythms isn't easy or even realistic for most of us, heading to bed at the first yawn seems like the next best thing

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