Sleep: Are we doing it all wrong?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sleepy during the day?

Have a hard time going to sleep at night?

You might blame the Olympics, but they're going to be over soon, and so will that excuse.

Too much caffeine? Perhaps. Long summer daylight hours? Those happen every year. Get used to it.

According to one chapter in David K. Randall's new book, "Dreamland," we might be able to blame Thomas Edison and his invention of the light bulb.

According to modern research and study of ancient manuscripts, our bodies are geared to natural light, going to bed at sundown, waking for a time around midnight, then going back to sleep until sunup.

According to research, we're rested like we "spent a day at the spa" after the "first sleep," then more completely rested after the "second sleep."

A solid eight hours of sleep? Not good enough, according to the research cited in Randall's book.

The Reuter reporter goes into many other aspects of sleep, such as two schools of thought concerning dreams -- is Freud right or are the biologists more on track? -- sleep walking and possible links between artificial light and breast cancer.

One thing everyone can agree on is the importance of an adequate amount of sleep, especially among children and teens.

With McCook's first day of school only a week away, time is short to help our kids get back into rhythm with the school routine.

Experts offer these suggestions:

* A week or two before school starts, have your child go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

* Once the schedule is established, stick with it, even on the weekends.

* Establish a relaxing bedtime routine including a quiet time to allow your child to unwind, take a bath and enjoy a bed-time story or reading time.

* Limit television, video games and other electronic distractions late in the day.

* Avoid big meals close to bedtime.

* Avoide caffeine from sodas and other caffeinated drinks for several hours before bedtime.

* Make sure the child's bedroom is quiet and comfortable.

* Make sure you and everyone else in your home gets enough sleep.

* The sooner your child readjusts to a school-time sleep schedule, the better he or she will perform in class.

First sleep? Second sleep? Many of us would be satisfied with any sleep at all. Since we're destined to spend about a third of our lives that way, now is a good time of year to make sure we and our families make the most of it.

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