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Sleep

  • Sleep Myths and Misunderstandings

    Whether you are eight months old or are in your eighties, you need sleep. Experts say that the average adult requires somewhere between seven and nine hours spent sleeping every single night in order to maintain optimum health and cognitive acuity. As sleep scientists delve deeper into why we sleep, how we sleep and what we can do to make our sleep more effective, they are also rapidly disproving a number of long-standing sleep misconceptions. Here are several sleep myths that have been disproven, and an eye-opening look into the truth behind sleep. Continue reading

  • When Do We Start Sleeping?

    There have been a number of different theories on when sleeping and dreaming actually begins, with most scientists concluding that dreaming was not possible before infants actually started to become conscious and aware of the world around them. But in recent years, as we have gained the opportunity to see into the womb through ultrasound and other technologies, we have learned that sleep begins long before we are born, and that REM sleep is present in babies long before birth.

    The study of neonatal sleep is a relatively new science. We still are not sure when a developing fetus begins to alternate between being awake and being asleep, but we do know that babies that are born prematurely have a distinctive wakefulness pattern, and even though we know that a fetus is extremely active even when it is asleep, we still are able to discern that they spend between 16 and 20 hours sleeping.  Continue reading

  • Sleep Education

    The idea of providing education about sleep within our children’s health programs in school is a novel one, but one that should be seriously considered. Most people think of sleep as something that comes naturally and that is an unchanging aspect of our lives, but our sleep requirements change dramatically as we age; every aspect, including how much rest we need, what time we go to sleep and how much of our time is spent dreaming or not, changes as we progress from infancy, to childhood, from teenage years to middle and old age.  Our lack of knowledge about these changes can lead to health problems and even dangerous situations as we get older, and all of these problems could be minimized with a little bit of basic guidance, much like that which is offered regarding nutrition.  Continue reading

  • Sleep and Aging

    It seems as though just as we outgrow the notorious teenage problem of being unable to fall asleep at a healthy hour, life and all of its relentless responsibilities catches up with us and piles on top of us, offering us absolutely no relief from the sleep deprivation that seems to have followed us from puberty on up. As our bodies age and our muscles, bones, skin and internal organs begin to deteriorate in middle age, our sleep cycles do as well.

    Though we can blame much of it on nature, the truth is that much of our middle-aged sleep deprivation arises from our own dreams and desires. We prioritize the business of our lives so that sleep is shattered by our schedules rather than by hormones or a shifting biological sleep clock.  The requirements of our work lives, the need to care for our families and all of the other million things that drive us all to run ourselves ragged also end up infringing upon our sleep time, in large part because we still have not correctly prioritized our bodies’ need for rest.  Most middle-aged adults get seven hours of sleep per night, a number that is probably less than they need. Continue reading

  • Thomas Edison's Impact on Sleep

    The biological drive to wake and sleep based upon the rising and setting of the sun each day has been in place in humans since time began. The evolutionary message that runs our lives even in these modern times was influenced by our survival needs as people living in caves, and its influences on almost every aspect of our lives remains just as strong. Scientific experiments done in the last several years have indicated that the body’s response to light is not limited to what we experience through our eyes: even exposing a small patch of skin on the back of our knees can create changes in our circadian rhythm. Other experiments have shown that in addition to exposure to light, changing the body’s chemical composition by adjusting the amount of melatonin present in the blood stream can change our schedules, as  can exercise.   Continue reading

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