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  • Writer's pictureNeil Melanson

Insight on Insomnia

It is estimated that fifty percent of adults are sleep deprived. Many people consider sleep a luxury and believe that as adults we can sacrifice sleep in order to make time for other "more important" daily activities without suffering lasting consequences. On the contrary, sleep is tremendously important for everyone; young, old, and in-between. Improve Memory with Better Sleep Despite a restful body, the mind remains as vital and active during sleep as it is when awake. Studies show that people who learned a particular task did not improve their performance when tested later the same day, but did show improvement after a full night's sleep. Researchers say that memories normally wash out of the brain unless some process nails them down, and that sleep is one of those things that does the nailing down. Why Is Sleep Important? Sleep enables the body and mind to rejuvenate, re-energize, and restore. It is believed that as a person sleeps the brain performs vital house-keeping tasks such as organizing long-term memory, integrating new information, and repairing and renewing tissue, nerve cells, and bio-chemicals, including hormones. Sleep plays an important role in our immune system, speeding recovery from infections and other immune attacks. How Much Sleep Do You Need? The amount of sleep we get is directly proportional to the amount and quality of the next day's productivity. Some experts suggest that the best way to determine how much sleep your body needs is by waking up without an alarm clock; others believe that an ideal amount of sleep is however much you need to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning and alert all day. On average, an adult requires 8 to 9 hours of night-sleep — in reality, many people get 6 hours or less.

How to Get More Sleep

There is no substitute for sleep. Few of us are able to sleep-in during an average work-week. If you are feeling groggy and fatigued due to lack of sleep, one strategy may be to gradually move toward an earlier bedtime. You can do this without drastic change in schedule: To get an extra hour sleep (skip the late-night talk shows) and try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. If family or schedule commitments prevent this, try to squeeze in a nap every now and then.

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