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A good night's sleep
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Forsyth County News

Tips for a good night’s sleep


• Rest according to a schedule: Try to go to bed and get up at the same time — even on the weekends and while on vacation.

• Exercise: regular exercise definitely improves your sleep habits. Try not to exercise within three hours of bedtime.

• If you cannot sleep, do not lie in bed awake. If you cannot fall sleep after 20 minutes, get up and read. Do not turn on the television or read in bed.

• Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, so they are not going to help. Even though alcohol is a sedative, once its effects wear off, it tends to cause erratic sleeping patterns.

• Do not eat or drink at least two hours (longer is even better) before going to bed.

• Prepare for bed by taking a warm bath, meditating or reading. Unwind, however, in a room other than the bedroom.

My mother always said you forget the pain of childbirth and most of the "bad" stuff that goes along with having children.

For the most part, I think she is right. One unpleasant thing I have yet to forget, however, is sleep deprivation. Anybody who has ever experienced this state of being, and pretty much every mother has, knows what I am talking about.

Apparently, it is not just new mothers who frequently walk around in a near zombie-like state. Some studies suggest that sleep deprivation affects as many as 47 million adults, or nearly a quarter of the adult population.

Exhaustion, fatigue and lack of physical energy are all common symptoms afflicting those badly in need of sleep. These symptoms commonly cause pessimism, sadness, stress and anger.

To add to that rather bleak picture, the National Sleep Foundation has suggested that many social problems such as road rage may be caused (at least in part) by sleepiness.

Try to remember that the next time someone cuts you off on Ga. 400. Just say to yourself, "Well, it’s not his fault, he probably has sleep deprivation."

Why exactly do we need sleep — and is there any way to need less of it?

In short, we need sleep to live.

The brain’s frontal cortex relies on sleep to function effectively. Insufficient rest adversely affects the brain’s ability to control speech, access memory and solve problems.

Scientists are still trying to find out all the reasons why sleep is so important to our bodies. While they may not know the reasons, they all agree on sleep’s necessity to the human body.

When scientists applied their studies to rats, they have learned that if rats are deprived of REM sleep, they only live about five weeks instead of two to three years. Don’t try that study at home.

So just how much sleep do we actually need? Of course, every individual is different, and many people seem to function fine on as little as four hours a night (that would definitely not be me). But most experts agree that eight hours a night for adults is optimal.

Sleep experts talk a lot about "sleep hygiene." They make suggestions and explain that if you follow their guidelines, you greatly increase your odds at getting a good night’s rest.

Sweet dreams!


Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at