Friday, January 25, 2008

Healthy Habit No. 3: Get Enough Sleep

"Your body has to have enough time to rest," says Michael Fleming, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Otherwise, he says you may find yourself feeling cranky and tired.

This may sound like common sense, but according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), more than two-thirds of older adults suffer from sleep problems and many American adults don't get the minimum amount of shuteye needed to stay alert.

Sleep is vital to good health and to mental and emotional well-being. The NSF reports that people who don't get enough slumber are more likely than others to develop psychiatric problems and to use health care services. Plus, sleep deprivation can negatively affect memory, learning, and logical reasoning.

Not enough ZZZs can also be hazardous. More than one-half of adult drivers -- some 100 million people -- say they have driven drowsy in the past year, according to NSF polls. About one out of five of these drivers -- 32 million people -- say they've fallen asleep while driving.

Each year drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 car crashes, 1,500 deaths, and tens of thousands of injuries, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NSF recommends taking a 15 to 20 minute nap. Because it takes about 30 minutes for the caffeine to work, taking a nap while you wait for the caffeine to kick in can help restore alertness.

To avoid the pitfalls of insufficient sleep, make sure to get at least seven to 10 hours of slumber each night. Kids need more sleep, depending on their age.


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