Thursday, March 20, 2008
by Danielle Dellorto
Associate Medical Producer
How many hours of sleep did you get last night? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 10 percent of Americans aren't getting the recommended seven to nine hours each night. And being sleep deprived can take a serious toll on your health.
Most of us are what experts describe as, "partially sleep deprived." A partially sleep deprived person gets about six hours' sleep a night but his or her body needs closer to eight hours. Over a two-week span, those lost hours add up and the body starts to mimic someone who's been up all night.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, when you don't get enough sleep, your memory is weaker, your reaction times are slower and you're more irritable than a well-rested colleague. And you can blame lack of sleep for those extra pounds as well. Sleepy people tend to overeat.
Experts tell us that most Americans think they function great on five or six hours a night. The truth is, we get adjusted to functioning on less sleep and literally forget what it feels like to be fully alert.
One common question we hear: How can I fall asleep quickly once I make it to bed?
The sleep experts we spoke to offer these tips:
- Unwind for 45 minutes before going to bed. Relax, listen to music and don't do any tasks (like folding the laundry or working on the computer). This will keep your mind from racing, which prevents you from falling asleep quickly.
- Don't just lie there! If you are wide awake after 15 minute, get up and go to another room. Clock watching or "thinking about sleeping" can leave you alert for hours.
What works for you? Let us know your tips for a great night sleep.
Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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