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Everyone knows from childhood, just like the thing about drinking eight glasses of water, that we need eight hours of sleep every day. However, more responsibilities, stress and our hectic way of life have made it virtually impossible to get the full eight hours, with some non-insomniacs even struggling to get six hours of snooze time into their daily schedule. But how important is sleep, really? And how does chronic sleep deprivation affect the brain and overall health?
According to the Sleep Foundation, adults require approximately seven to nine hours of sleep per night. And while one night of lost sleep won't have debilitating health effects, a week of insufficient sleep affects our bodies at the genetic level with researchers observing ''more than 700 genetic changes'' after seven nights of inadequate sleep.
Some proven ill effects of chronic sleeplessness include memory/cognitive impairment, overeating/obesity, cardiovascular problems/hypertension, stress/moodiness and anxiety, increased insulin resistance (diabetes), increased risk for certain types of cancer, a poor quality of life and a shorter life span overall.
Catching up on sleep during weekends ''does not return individuals to baseline functioning.'' The main thing, experts say, is for ''normal'' sleep-deprived people to understand the importance of sleep and the need to integrate proper, regular sleep into their daily regimen.
Nutritionists also recommend avoiding caffeinated beverages and sugary food. Instead, munch on a handful of nuts, drink warm milk with honey, or have whole grain cereal with milk as your last meal before bedtime. Engaging in medium impact to vigorous exercise during the day will also help you doze off easier at night.
• Sleeplessness leads to hypertension, memory loss.
• It's vital to integrate regular sleep into daily regimen.
• Ban caffeinated drinks, sugary food before bedtime.
Source: Special to Classifieds