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How much sleep do we need? (teenagers/and others)

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  • How much sleep do we need? (teenagers/and others)

    Most teens need about 8 1/2 to more than 9 hours of sleep each night. (kids need definately 9).The right amount of sleep is essential for anyone who wants to do well on a test or play sports without tripping over their feet. Unfortunately, though, many teens don't get enough sleep.

    Why Aren't Teens Getting Enough Sleep?
    Until recently, teens were often given a bad rap for staying up late, oversleeping for school, and falling asleep in class. But recent studies show that adolescent sleep patterns actually differ from those of adults or kids.

    These studies show that during the teen years, the body's circadian (pronounced: sur-kay-dee-un) rhythm (sort of like an internal biological clock) is reset, telling a person to fall asleep later and wake up later. Unlike kids and adults, whose bodies tell them to go to sleep and wake up earlier, most teens' bodies tell them go to sleep late at night and sleep into the late morning. This change in the circadian rhythm seems to be due to the fact that melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking patterns, is produced later at night for teens than it is for kids and adults. This can make it harder for teens to fall asleep early.

    These changes in the body's circadian rhythm coincide with a time when we're busier than ever. For most teens, the pressure to do well in school is more intense than when they were kids, and it's harder to get by without studying hard. But teens also have other demands on their time - everything from sports and other extracurricular activities to fitting in a part-time job to save money for college.

    Early start times in some schools also play a role in this sleep deficit. Teens who fall asleep after midnight may still have to get up early for school, meaning that they may only squeeze in 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night. An hour or 2 of missed sleep a night may not seem like a big deal, but it can create a noticeable sleep deficit over time.

    ...
    How Do I Know if I'm Getting Enough?
    Even if you think you're getting enough sleep, you may not be. Here are some of the signs that you may need more sleep:

    difficulty waking up in the morning
    inability to concentrate
    falling asleep during classes
    feelings of moodiness and even depression

    Here are some things that may help you to sleep better:
    • Set a regular bedtime.
    Going to bed at the same time each night signals to your body that it's time to sleep. Waking up at the same time every day can also help establish sleep patterns. So try to stick to your sleep schedule even on weekends. Don't go to sleep more than an hour later or wake up more than 2 to 3 hours later than you do during the week.
    • Exercise regularly.
    Try not to exercise right before bed, though, as it can raise your body temperature and wake you up. Sleep experts believe that exercising 5 or 6 hours before bedtime (in late afternoon) may actually help a person sleep.
    • Avoid stimulants
    . Don't drink beverages with caffeine, such as soda and coffee, after 4 PM. Nicotine is also a stimulant, so quitting smoking may help you sleep better. And drinking alcohol in the evening can also cause a person to be restless and wake up during the night.
    • Relax your mind.
    Avoid violent, scary, or action movies or television shows right before bed - anything that might set your mind and heart racing. Reading books with involved or active plots may also keep you from falling or staying asleep.
    Unwind by keeping the lights low. Light signals the brain that it's time to wake up. Staying away from bright lights (including computer screens!), as well as meditating or listening to soothing music, can help your body relax.
    • Don't nap too much.
    Naps of more than 30 minutes during the day may keep you from falling asleep later.
    • Avoid all-nighters.
    Don't wait until the night before a big test to study. Cutting back on sleep the night before a test may mean you perform worse than you would if you'd studied less but got more sleep.
    • Create the right sleeping environment.
    Studies show that people sleep best in a dark room that is slightly on the cool side. Close your blinds or curtains (and make sure they're heavy enough to block out light) and turn down the thermostat in your room (pile on extra blankets or wear PJs if you're cold). Lots of noise can be a sleep turnoff, too.
    • Wake up with bright light.
    Bright light in the morning signals to your body that it's time to get going.


    Take care
    (©1995-2006 The Nemours Foundation)

  • #2
    *Don't stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. It will just make matters worse. Know you will sleep eventually.
    *Use the bed for sleeping. Avoid watching TV or using laptop computers. Know that reading in bed can be a problem if the material is very stimulation and you read with a bright light. If it helps to read before sleep make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough. Bright light from these activities may inhibit sleep.
    *Sleep is as important as food and air. Quantity and quality are very important. Most adults need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you press the snooze button on the alarm in the morning you are not getting enough sleep. This could be due to not enough time in bed, external disturbances, or a sleep disorder
    *Don't go to bed hungry. Have a light snack,not too fat. not too sweet, avoid a heavy meal before bed.

    more info: Sleepnet.com Homepage

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    • #3
      sleep disorders (teenagers and older people)

      We set the alarm early, stay up late, and order a tall whatever-we-want to help us get by on the minimum. But the fact is: When you lose sleep, you lose your health.

      Experts say most of us need about 8 hours of sleep a night, but half of us don't get it. And more than 80 percent of working women report exhaustion. According to the National Sleep Foundation's annual survey, in 2005 U.S. adults got, on average, just 6.9 hours of sleep a night. Now researchers are discovering that a decline in sleep time means a decline in your health. Some examples:

      Getting just an hour or two less sleep than needed per night can impair brain function.

      Insufficient sleep is associated with cancer, heart disease, obesity, and dia-betes not to mention early death.

      It's also a risk factor for depression, infertility, miscarriage, and postpartum depression.

      To top it off, sleeping less to do more doesn't even work: People who skimp on sleep may be devoting more hours to getting things done, but they work more slowly and accomplish less. "There really isn't a good substitute for sleep," says Donna Arand, Ph.D., a psychologist and the clinical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.

      Scientists haven't yet grasped all the functions of sleep, but they know that sleep is needed every bit as intensely as food or water. It enables our bodies to regulate temperature and fight off infection. It may help our brains retain things we learned the previous day. If you take a peek inside your body and brain during a typical night's sleep, you'll find out how it rejuvenates you and why you should care.

      Although experts don't yet fully understand what sleep is for, they know it is crucial: Rats normally live 2 years or more, but when deprived of sleep they die within 3 weeks. If you stay awake for 24 hours straight, you will involuntarily begin undergoing regular bursts of "microsleep" 2- to 3-second intervals in which you essentially lose consciousness. An Australian study published in the journal Nature found that people kept awake for 28 hours did as poorly on a hand-eye-coordination test as did people who were legally drunk (having a blood alcohol concentration of 1.0).

      But you don't have to pull an all-nighter to feel the effects of sleep loss. The past few nights, you've stayed up late to work, pay bills, help your husband pack for a business trip. You think you do fine on 6 hours' sleep, but you're actually accumulating a "sleep debt." Recent research shows that spending just a couple of hours less in bed each night for a week or two - basically your normal schedule lowers your spirits. "Sleep deprivation has significant impacts on mood in healthy individuals," says J. Todd Arnedt, Ph.D., a University of Michigan sleep specialist. "People get more depressed; they may get more anxious." Sleep loss also slows your reflexes and impairs your memory, judgment, and mental acuity. In a landmark 2003 University of Pennsylvania study, people who were limited to 6 hours of sleep per night for 2 weeks did significantly worse on tests of alertness and reasoning than people who got their full 8 hours.

      But get this: The subjects in the Penn study had no idea how impaired they were. They reported an initial increase in sleepiness, but as time wore on they did not complain of additional exhaustion, though their test scores continued to decline. "One of the first things that goes in our brain is our insight," says Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., a psychologist at New York University's Sleep Disorders Center. "A sleepy person generally does not perceive how badly they are functioning."

      Thankfully, your sleep debt can be paid, and you don't have to make up every lost hour. When you're overtired you slip more quickly into slow-wave sleep and stay there longer, which helps you recover faster. But don't make a practice of playing catch-up repaying your sleep debt works only in small doses (and there's no set ratio for how much makeup time is needed). If the deprivation is chronic, catching up won't work. "When you stress the system, you can recover. Will it always recover 100 percent? Some of those problems are more likely to stay with you as time goes on," says Damon Salzman, M.D., director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in White Plains, New York.

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