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Mysteries of Sleep

February 11, 2006 | 7,620 views
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Americans are sleeping less than they used to, averaging only seven hours in bed a night. Close to 60 percent report that they have trouble sleeping a few nights every week.

Two Different Systems

Possible solutions to the problem could lie in the fact that sleep is regulated by two entirely different systems.

The sleep homeostat builds a need for sleep in a fairly linear fashion, based on how long you are awake and how active you are. The circadian rhythm, however, is tied to cycles of light and dark. Darkness causes the brain to secrete the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

Either of these cycles can be used to help those who have trouble sleeping. Bright lights or melatonin tablets can be used to affect the circadian rhythm. Exercise and heating the body (such as by taking a warm bath) can be used similarly on the sleep homeostat.

Pain, Depression, and Injury

Chronic sleep disruption can affect ability to learn, skills, memory, stamina, health, and safety. It is also, in all likelihood, the single biggest trigger for depression. Insomnia can cause irritability, headaches, and muscle pain. Job injury rates can increase 400 percent for the sleep-deprived, and 16 percent of absenteeism is associated with insomnia.

 

 

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Because sleep is such an important health issue, and a problem for so many of you, I believe there's great value in reviewing some of the conditions that prevent you from getting the right amount of it.

This awesome piece from Psychology Today talks about a number of variables that affect not only your sleep, but memory and learning skills too.

It also offers a good common-sense definition for identifying insomnia:

Taking more than 30 minutes to get to sleep or lying awake that long at least three times a week.

The number one cause of insomnia, according to one expert, was, not surprisingly, raising a child. While the article offers a few possible solutions, it doesn't go into great detail. So remember, if you're having problems, folks, you certainly don't need a useless and potentially toxic drug to help you sleep.

Because getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important things you can do to optimize your health, I urge you to review my 29 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep today. Some of the tips include: 

  • Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars.
  • Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible.
  • Wear socks to bed. A study has shown that this reduces night wakings.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Lose weight.
  • Listen to white noise or relaxation CDs, such as the Insight audio CD.

    And many more. So if you haven't yet read 29 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep and you are challenged with getting a good night's sleep, please read it as it is one of the most popular articles on the site.

     

     


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