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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
(abstracted from EXPERIENCELIFE by Catherine Guthrie)

HOW MUCH SLEEP id you get last night?Odds are it wasnt' enough, "No problem", you tell yourself. "I"ll make up for it tonight." But will you? Not likely.

The culprits, according to sleep experts, are 21st century distractions; longer work hours, the draw of the Internet and the pervasiveness of televisions in bedrooms.Many americans have grown accustomed to shaking off midday fatigue with jolts of cola or extra cups of coffee. But even if you manage to struggle through your days without chemical assistance, you should be aware that chronic sleep deprivation might be harming your body in unseen ways.

Inadequate sleep can lead to serious health risks. One of the most obvious danger is falling asleep at the wheels. "Chronic sleep deprivation is insidious," says Dr. Sean P.A. Drummond, PhD, and Associate Professor of pyschiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and the VA San Diego Healthcare System. "Most people don't realize they are sleep deprive because their perception of what 'normal' feels like has shifted."People have grown so accustomed to running on inadequate sleep", he says, that they take it in stride."The body's ability to function on less sleep lulls people into a false sense of security", Dr. Drummond says, "But normal is'nt the same as optimal. And the body functions much less efficiently when sleep deprived."

EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE SLEEPS, no one knows exactly what purpose it serves." Sleep is such a complex process, and it involves so many brain and body systems, it's hard to weed out the fundamental function, " says Dr.Sean P.A. Drummond.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't dozens of theories behind the sleep enigma. One popular perspective suggests that sleeping evolved as a survival tool. Mammals that move around too much at night are more likely to become other animals midnight snacks. Other theories focus more on the biological need for sleep. Many experts argue that while we sleep the body replenishes certain hormones and accomplishes important restorative and repair tasks. Still others believe sleeping allows the brain to rid itself of harmful free radicals.

Although experts are still unraveling the mystery of sleep, one thing is clear -- the body suffers greatly without a good night's rest, becoming more vulnerable, less resilient and less efficient as its sleep debts increases. And it's just not chronic insomiacs who need to worry. According to the latest research, people who electively cheat on their sleep, even for just a week, increase their susceptibility to chronic illness.

posted by infraternam meam @ 10:50 PM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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