Sleepy Nation Needs Rest

You're not the only one yawning all day!

The latest National Sleep Foundation study found only about a quarter of us are getting at least eight hours of sleep a night.

Dr. Dale Garrett of Stormont-Vail WorkCare says since the invention of the light bulb, we're sleeping less and less. He says it affects our performance. When we don't get enough sleep, we're more prone to accidents and less productive. For students, lack of sleep can even mean lower grades.

Dr. Garrett says most adults need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep a night for the body to repair itself. The best way to make sure you get it is to allow enough time for it.

You can also countdown to bedtime. Six hours before bed, stop caffeine consumption. Five hours before bed is the best time for strenuous exercise, so your body can cool off. Four hours before bed, stop alcohol consumption. Decrease all fluids three hours before bed, so you won't have to get up to go to the bathroom. Two hours to go, stop nicotine. An hour before, limit bright light.

Dr. Garrett says all of our biological rhythms are based on responses to light. He says bright light will disrupt the internal clock we have, so it's best to limit the amount of television and video games before bed.

Dr. Garrett says chronic lack of sleep can lead to physical problems like digestive disorders, high blood pressure and even heart attacks. He says shifting your sleep pattern contributes to problems, so workers who switch shift hours need to be especially careful.

Lack of sleep can also be due to a medical disorder. Talk to your doctor or get more information from the Stormont-Vail Sleep Center at 270-4691. You can also learn more at the National Sleep Foundation's web site, www.sleepfoundation.org..


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