Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sleeping your way to better health

By Michael Lim

There are people who tell me that they make do with just four to five hours of sleep a day and don't feel fatigued. Then there are others who sleep more than 10 hours a day and yet continue to feel tired.

Many ask: "What duration of sleep is considered adequate sleep?" Is there an optimal number of hours that one should sleep? The answer, apparently, is yes, and sleep does appear to have a significant impact on health.


What is consistent in most of the large studies on sleep is that people who sleep the least appear to be significantly more likely to die.

A large study, the Nurses Health Study by Harvard University, involving 82,000 nurses, has shown an association between insufficient or erratic sleep and breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

While researchers have found that people who work at night are unusually prone to breast and colon cancer, it is still too early to say that working on the night shift causes cancer.

All it means is that there is an association. At this point of time, there is no explanation for this association.

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