How much sleep is enough?
(The Boston Globe Online), SOURCE: Reuters, February 29, 2008
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Children ages 5 to 12 should get nine to 11 hours, and those 11 to 17 need 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours.
"Stressed Out College Students Losing Sleep"
HealthDay News via Yahoo! News - August 12, 2009
U.S. college students don't get enough sleep, and stress is the prime reason, a new study reports.
About 68 percent of college students who were surveyed said that worries about school and life keep them awake, with one-fifth saying this occurs at least once a week. The study, which appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that less than a third of the 1,125 survey participants get the eight hours of sleep at night that people their age need.
"Students underestimate the importance of sleep in their daily lives," study co-author Roxanne Prichard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn., said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "They forgo sleep during periods of stress, not realizing that they are sabotaging their physical and mental health."
Lack of sleep can cause problems with a person's immune and cardiovascular system and increase the likelihood of other health risks, such as weight gain, she said.
About three in five of the students said they have irregular sleep-wake patterns, and many said they use drugs or alcohol regularly to help them either sleep or stay alert, the survey found. The regular use of stimulants and sedatives can increase the chance of becoming addicted to them.
Weekday all-nighters are pulled at least once a month by 20 percent of those polled, and 35 percent said they stayed up until 3 a.m. at least once a week. Skipping three or more classes in a month or falling asleep in class was common among 12 percent of the poor sleepers, the researchers noted.
More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about understanding sleep.
"Sleep disorders linked to premature deaths: study"
AFP - August 18, 2009
PARIS (AFP) – Persons afflicted with severe breathing disorders during sleep face an increased risk of premature death, according to a new study.
The risk is most apparent in men 40-to-70 years old, said the study, published this week in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.
The signature symptom of sleep-disordered breathing -- experienced by one-in-four men and one-in-10 women -- is the temporary collapse of the upper airway.
This leads to brief interruptions of breathing known as sleep apnea that can last from a few seconds to more than a minute.
Earlier research has shown that sleep apnea can lead to increased incidence of hypertension, heart failure and stroke.
It can also cause daytime sleepiness, impairing an individual's ability to drive a car or operate machinery.
But previous studies have not included enough participants to reveal whether other factors, such as age and sex, are linked to an increased risk of premature death.
In a study led by Naresh Punjabi of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, researchers measured the so-called apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) for over 6,000 men and women.
A person's breathing during sleep is severely disrupted when the AHI index -- which also monitors blood oxygen levels -- is 30 or above. Hypopnea is abnormally shallow breathing.
Regardless of age, sex, race, weight or smoking status, participants followed up for an average of eight years were one-and-a-half times more likely to die if they had an AHI of 30 or above at the outset of the study.
Men aged 40-to-70 in that category were twice as likely to die from any cause as men who did not suffer from sleep apnea.
Death from coronary heart disease in particular was linked to sleep disorders in men, but not in women.
Persons with milder sleep-breathing problems did not have a statistically increased risk of dying, according the study.
The researchers called for clinical trials to determine whether treating the condition can reduce premature deaths.
"Paying back your sleep debt on weekend not so easy, study says"
By Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press, January 14, 2010
WASHINGTON - Sleeping in on Saturday after a few weeks of too little shut-eye may feel refreshing, but it can give a false sense of security.
New research shows chronic sleep loss cannot be cured that easily. Scientists studying the effects of short- and long-term sleep loss found that the chronically sleep-deprived may function normally soon after waking up, but that they experience steadily slower reaction times as the day wears on, even if they had tried to catch up the previous night.
It is work with important safety implications in an increasingly busy society, not just for shift-workers, but also for the roughly one in six Americans who regularly get six hours or less of sleep a night.
“We know that staying awake 24 hours in a row impairs performance to a level comparable to a blood-alcohol content beyond the legal limit to drive,’’ said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Cohen of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
But when the chronically sleep-deprived pull an all-nighter, “the deterioration is increased tenfold,’’ Cohen said.
Cohen wondered how both acute and chronic sleep loss interact with the body’s natural circadian rhythms, the 24-hour biological clock that signals when it is time to sleep and to wake.
He recruited nine healthy volunteers and messed up their normally good sleep habits for three weeks. They stayed awake for 33-hour stretches with 10 hours of sleep in between, a radical enough schedule that their internal circadian clocks could not adjust. Their sleep deprivation was comparable to that of someone who gets about 5.5 hours of sleep a night, Cohen said, but the extralong wake-sleep schedule also allowed him to test the value of catch-up sleep.
The well-rested can catch up from the occasional all-nighter fairly easily. But as the study wore on and the volunteers became more sleep-deprived, the rejuvenation they felt each time they awoke increasingly proved a facade, Cohen reported yesterday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
They functioned OK during their first few waking hours, especially that first week. But then their reaction times steadily worsened with each hour they stayed awake, with a big drop in performance between the first and second weeks of sleep deprivation, he found.
- Jonathan Melle
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