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Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Posts Tagged ‘new york times

morning cram [surreal edition]

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Foreign journalists in Libya are facing increased government pressure.

NPR hears how the media’s situation in Tripoli has become ever more sinister and weird.

KENTUCKY~ Earlington voters end prohibition. A 5-car wreck this morning shut down KY-58. McCracken County authorities search for a knife-wielding robber. MSU’s Curris Center will be back open today after things got a little steamy. The Madisonville-North Hopkins County High School band is invited to play @ New York’s Carnegie Hall. Oak Grove’s longtime police chief gets fired. The (acclaimed) editor of the Madisonville Messenger is retiring. Lower temps may stave off some tree pollen-caused allergies. The state will pick up your tab if you take the GED.

TENNESSEE~ A Houston County fire station burns to the ground (irony!?). One proposed bill wants to add an extra tax to soft drink sales, and another wants to protect teachers (who allow students to decry theories of evolution).

BASEBALL~ MSU > SIU; UTM < Vandy.

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To Dream, Perchance to Sleep

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by Todd Hatton

Yesterday morning, I began writing a blog post on a particular topic and ended up writing about something totally unrelated.  When I went back to figure out what happened, a massive yawn almost split my head in half.  Instead of my finding the problem, the problem had found me.  I hadn’t slept very well or long enough the night before, and now I was paying for it.

I love sleep.  I’d smile saying the word even if the act of doing so didn’t force me to.  The very thought of curling up for a prolonged snooze under cozy blankets makes me drool.  Yet, I’m not doing it enough.

Makes you sleepy just looking at it, huh?

So what, exactly, is my problem?

First, it’s not just my problem.  The National Sleep Foundation says one in three Americans is overtired because they’re not sleeping enough.  So how much is enough?

A survey of several sleep-related websites shows no one number for everyone, but The Better Sleep Council reports the average amount for adults is around seven to eight hours a night, although some people may need more.  Their rule of thumb for determining the proper amount is simple enough: if you sleep more on the weekend than you do during the week, you’re not getting enough Monday through Friday.  Of this, I am horribly, horribly guilty.

Ah, the Sleep of the Innocent...and the Shamelessly Cute. (Image from CuteWithChris.com)

I don’t need a raft of scientific research to know that this is no good.  If you do, however, here’s some, and some more, and yet even more.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a lack of sleep accrues like interest, creating what’s termed a “sleep debt.” This deficit depresses our immune systems, raises blood pressure and insulin resistance, impairs cognitive functions, and reduces levels of leptin, a molecule secreted by fat cells the brain uses to inhibit appetite.

All right, so we all know now that a lack of sleep is a big problem.  What do we do about it?  The National Sleep Foundation provides a list of tips and strategies that range from the rather obvious (e.g., abstaining from caffeine early in the afternoon) to the counterintuitive (e.g., if you can’t sleep, don’t toss and turn, get up and do something relaxing).  The New York Times even recommends an optimal temperature for sleep, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  Anything outside that range makes us restless.

Those of us whose schedules preclude a normal sleep schedule have the unique challenge of trying to sleep when all the external cues say we should be awake.  We’re fighting our circadian rhythms, and in many cases, we’re losing the battle.

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Written by Todd Hatton

July 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm