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HEALTH & WELLNESS by jeff csatari The Power of ZZZ’s

Lose weight, boost immunity, and look younger with a good night’s sleep.

University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. If it’s cut short, the body doesn’t complete all the phases of sleep needed for tissue repair, memory consolidation, and the release of needed hormones. People who sleep fewer than six hours a night or more than nine hours report a lower quality of life and are more likely to suffer from depression, according to a study at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Ohio. Short sleep duration is also associ-

ated with diabetes and heart problems, increased risk of motor-vehicle acci- dents, and lower productivity at work. Not sleeping long enough may even make you fat, according to a Case Western Reserve University study involving 68,000 women for 16 years. Women who slept five hours or less a night were found to weigh 5.4 pounds more and were 15 percent more likely to become obese than women who slept seven hours per night. Other studies have found that

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS you can do for your body tonight is put down your iPhone, turn off the computer, and go to bed before the 10 o’clock news. A good night’s sleep—seven to nine hours of uninterrupted slumber—can help you ward off colds and even heart disease, improve con- centration and mood, keep you from putting on pounds, and make you look younger. But 63 percent of adult Americans say they sleep fewer than seven hours a night, and 15 percent report getting less than six hours on weeknights, according to the 2011 Sleep in America Poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation.

42 S COUTING ¿ MARCH•APRIL 2012 Researchers claim it’s not only

our busy lives that are keeping us up but also our electronic distractions. Exposure to light-emitting screens such as TVs, laptops, and smartphones within the pivotal hours before sleep makes it more difficult to fall asleep, says Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Why Sleep Is Important Sleep is restorative for the brain and body. Like exercise and nutrition, it is essential for good physical and mental health, says Dr. Phyllis Zee, a profes- sor of neurology at Northwestern

people who get inadequate sleep have lower levels of the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite.

Get a Great Night’s Sleep Good sleep doesn’t just happen. It takes preparation. Here’s a plan that beats counting sheep: fPREPARE YOUR BAT CAVE. Think of your bedroom as a cave, say sleep doctors from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That is, make it dark, cool, and quiet.

FIND ADVICE on preventing snoring and getting better sleep at


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