Saturday, March 25, 2006

Counting Sheep The NIH Way

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has released a comprehensive 60-page handbook describing the how and why we sleep, and tips on getting enough sleep, such as sticking to a sleep schedule and relaxing before going to bed. Of course, reading a 60-page handbook on sleep might be all the help a person needs to fall asleep.

How much sleep a person needs constantly changes through a person's life: newborns require 16-18 hours, preschoolers 10-12, schoolaged children at least 9, while adults on average need around eight hours of sleep. The handbook also discusses snoring and sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrom, narcolepsy, and parasomnias. About half of all adults snore and African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics are more likely to snore loudly and frequently compared to Caucasians. Alcolhol and sedative taken before going to bed promote snoring.

Sleep Disorder Symptoms
  • You consistently take more than 30 minutes each night to fall asleep.
  • You consistently awaken more than a few times or for long periods of time each night.
  • You take frequent naps.
  • You often feel sleepy during the day, especially if you fall asleep at inappropriate times during the day.

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