Monday, December 6, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

When all else fails, find cute pajamas...
Ay, there really is the rub.

It's a fairly well accepted fact that seven to eight hours is the "golden" amount of sleep. That is, too much more or less can be detrimental to one's immediate and future health. According to David Dinges, chief of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, "Some of us are so used to not getting enough sleep that we've forgotten what it feels like to be fully alert."

I couldn't agree more ardently with that statement. On this chuckle-worthy list of "32 Undeniable Truths for Mature Humans", number nine reads "I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired."

Is there any hope? Fortunately, yes. Our brains, always looking out for our well being, have a mechanism that allows us to sleep deeply when we're most in need. The amount of "recovery sleep" recharged depends on how much sleep you've lost. While a full eight hours after a week of squeaking by on five to six hours a night won't do much, ten hours is enough to get you almost back to normal. The study warned against carrying a "sleep debt" as well. Bottom line: It's alright to skimp every once in a while on sleep (nothing a recovery night or two can't fix), but persistent sleep deprivation is rather harmful.

The article's suggestions for actually getting eight hours? "If you think you're just too busy to get the requisite amount of slumber, try removing all electronic media devices—BlackBerry, TV, computer—from your bedroom. These distractions, says Dinges, are a prime reason many of us turn out the lights an hour or two later than we originally intended." Bad news for those of us who rely on cell phone alarms clocks... Rest easy!

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