By: Matthew White
If you aren't getting enough sleep your health is at serious risk. Just as bad is getting too much sleep.
You may have thought that you'll just be tired and cranky if you don't get enough sleep. Scientists say it's much worse than that.
If you don't get enough sleep you're likely to have problems with short-term memory, slowed reaction times and reduced performance at work or at school. There are also affects on mood and resilience.
That's not all. Some researchers have found that not getting enough sleep can reduce your immune response and contribute to weight gain.
You're not the only one at risk, either. Almost half of all heavy truck accidents are connected to driver fatigue. Some estimates say that over 100,000 auto crashes in the US every year, and thousands of related deaths and injuries are caused by falling asleep at the wheel.
Then there's the widespread financial impact. The US National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that sleep deprivation costs $15 billion a year in reduced productivity.
The message seems to be that bad things will happen if you don't get enough sleep. Just in case that's not enough to get you thinking about how much sleep you're getting, let's consider the positive side.
Getting Enough Sleep Makes Things Better
All is not gloom and doom. Scientists tell us that if you get enough sleep, lots of things in your life will improve.
In addition to simply being able to do better work, researchers say that sleep increases your ability to make sense of new knowledge and learn new skills. In fact, Carl Hunt, director of the US National Commission on Sleep Disorder Research, says that "Sleep is as important to our overall health as exercise and a healthy diet."
Everyone seems to agree that we need to get enough sleep. Some scientists are sure that we're not.
Scientists say we need More Sleep
It seems like newspapers and magazines are filled with stories about how we don't get enough sleep. They cite study after study that support the idea that we just aren't getting the sleep we need.
A Gallup poll found that a third of us have daytime sleepiness. A couple of years later the American Sleep Foundation did a study that upped that number to 43 percent. They also found that 62 percent of adults have trouble sleeping.
An article in the Wall Street Journal claimed that "On average, most people sleep 75 minutes less each night than people did a century ago." Other articles join the chorus telling us that we're not sleeping as much as we should and not sleeping as much as our grandparents did.
Not surprisingly, the scientists who think we're not getting enough sleep offer us a wide variety of therapies. Others merely say that the sleep deprivation problem is a great reason to increase funding for sleep research.
But it's almost impossible to get all scientists to agree on any one thing. Not surprisingly, there are scientists who think that the articles and studies about us all being sleep deprived are simply wrong.
Scientists say we get Plenty of Sleep
Professor Jim Horne of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Loughborough is the leading contrarian. He thinks the idea that our ancestors slept better than we do is simply rubbish.
Horne points out that sleeping wasn't always as easy as it is today. In the country, people often slept in the same room with animals of various kinds. In the cities there was lots of noise and other sleep disturbers.
No matter where you were, there wasn't much temperature control. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. And people often shared their beds, sometimes with other people, almost always with bugs. Professor Horne thinks we have it better now.
Dr. Horne is a naysayer, believing it all to be drug industry hype. He's convinced that adults can survive quite well on five or six hours of sleep a night.
He buttresses his argument with analyses of how the brain works and which parts are involved in sleep. He references high achievers like Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher who are reputed to function at full throttle on four hours of sleep a night.
It's very convincing ? unless you know from personal experience how much of hell life without good sleep is.
Disputers like Dr Horne are in the minority due to the overwhelming bulk of lab tests, sleep clinic results, anecdotal evidence and personal testimony of sufferers wandering through life in a dazed fog of half life.
So, How Much Sleep do you Need?
How much sleep do you need? That depends on what you want to do.
There are lots of variables. There are lots of different personal preferences. I have friends who function perfectly well on very little sleep and at least one for whom nine hours a night is optimal. Each person is different, but every human runs by the same code. That?s why we all need specific amounts relating to our own personal cycles. As different as people are, they share similarities that are amazing. Each of us who feels rested and energized when they wake up sleeps in cycles of definite periods we can measure within 30 minutes each other.
How many cycles, however, is another point altogether. That is the subject of another article.
About the Author
Matthew White The Sultan of Snooze http://www.NaturalSleepInsomniaCure.com
(ArticlesBase SC #903714)
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