Is Sleep Good for Everything? Scientific American Poses the Question

Once again the consumer media has embraced the notion of better sleep for better health. The latest comes via a blog piece in Scientific American which asks the provocative question: Is sleep good for everything?

With new research coming out literally every week on various aspects of good sleep, blogger Gary Stix states that “the more sleep researchers look, the more the answer seems to be tending toward a resounding affirmative.”

Stix writes that there is a growing recognition that sleep appears to be involved in regulating basic metabolic processes and even in mental health. Stix relates that sleep researcher Robert Stickgold’s work (Harvard Medical School) has tied sleep to such varying health markers as memory, schizophrenia, depression, and diabetes.

One of the clearest messages, contends Stickgold, is that for every two hours humans spend awake during the day, the brain needs an hour offline to process the information it takes in and figure out what to save and what to dump and how to file and what it all means.

Stickgold concludes with the following advice:
“If you drink two cups of coffee to get going in the morning, you don’t have enough sleep. If you sleep two hours later on weekends, you are not getting enough sleep. I think the amount varies from person to person. There isn’t an absolute amount. I tell people to turn off the alarm clock for a week and see what happens. If you discover you’re waking an hour and a half after you’re supposed to be at work, you’re probably not going to bed early enough. I still think eight hours looks like the best bet if I were to guess.”

Source: Scientific American

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