Jul. 23—Had a restless night? Feel like you did not get any sleep? Had that reoccurring dream about a test you are not ready for? Or your mind is racing about work, kids, to-do list, or something else keeping you awake at night? According to the National Institute for Health: Sleep is a period of rest that alternates with wakefulness. You have internal body clocks that control when you are awake and when your body is ready for sleep. These clocks have cycles of approximately 24 hours. The clocks are regulated by multiple factors, including light, darkness and sleep schedules. Once asleep, you cycle through the stages of sleep throughout the night in a predictable pattern. Sleep is important because it affects many of your body's systems. Not getting enough sleep or enough quality sleep raises your risk for heart and respiratory problems and affects your metabolism and ability to think clearly and focus on tasks. The National Institute for Health provides a Guide to Healthy Sleep that much of this information is from and can be downloaded at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/your-guide-healthy-sleep While you sleep, your brain and body work at forming the pathways necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights. Without adequate sleep, you cannot focus, pay attention, or respond quickly. Lack of sleep affects your mood. Chronic lack of sleep shows growing evidence of links to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infections. Our non-stop lifestyles had resulted in people cutting back on sleep. Research suggests adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested. Yet more people report sleep of less than 7 hours. More than 33% of adults report daytime sleepiness so severe it affects work, driving and social functioning. Lack of adequate sleep for children and adolescents may affect health, behavior, and development. What is sleep? Sleep is divided into two basic types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. Sleep begins with non-REM sleep — light sleep. Your eyes move slowly, your muscles relax and your heart and breathing rates begin to slow. You spend about half the night in non-REM sleep. See the guide for more details of three stages. During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly in different directions, with your eyes closed. Your breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow and your heart rate and blood pressure increases. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep. REM sleep stimulates the brain regions you use to learn and make memories. Studies show that other stages of sleep are needed to form the pathways in the brain that enable us to learn and remember. What does sleep do for you? —Studies show people learn better when well rested. The advice of "sleep on it" is well-founded. —Sleep contributes to creative problem-solving. —Lack of sleep slows the thinking process. —Sleep affects our mood, and chronic lack of sleep can lead to depression. —Gives your heart and vascular system a much-needed rest. —Deep sleep contributes to growth in children. Boosts muscle mass and repairs cells and tissues in children and adults. How mu ch sleep is enough? —Adults 7-9 hours a day —Newborns, 16-18 hours a day —Preschool age, 11-12 hours a day —School-aged and adolescents, 10 or more a day. Tips for a good night's sleep —Stick to a sleep schedule. Sleeping more on the weekend will not make up for short sleep during the week. —Get your exercise in 2-3 hours before your bedtime. —Avoid blue light (cellphones, computers, games) and TV 2 hours before your bedtime. —Avoid caffeine and nicotine. —Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Heavy use robs you of deep sleep. —Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. —Talk to your doctor about how your medications and over-the-counter and herbal remedies affect your sleep. —Do not take naps after 3 p.m. —Have a routine for relaxing before bed — music, meditation, deep-breathing exercises, reading — without blue light. —Clear your bedroom of distractions (TV, phone, computer) and keep the temperature on the cool side. Face the clock away from you. Reduce the distractions of lights in other parts of the home and windows. —If you do not fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do a relaxing activity. You can find 1-minute meditations on the web to help you learn what works. —Have paper and pencil at the bedside to write down the things you worry you will forget the next day. Once on paper, your mind can better let go of that worry. See a doctor if you consistently find it difficult to fall or stay asleep, you may have a sleep disorder. Getting your beauty sleep is more than skin deep. Take care of yourself and sleep well.

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