sleep habits

  1. Poor sleep habits raise stroke risk

    Boosting your stroke risk -- every single night

    Doesn't matter how good your habits are during the day. Eat all the right food, take the most important supplements, and exercise to your heart's content -- but if you're not getting enough sleep, you're undoing all that hard work every single night.

    Poor sleep habits raise the risk of disease and an early death, and the latest research confirms that people who don't get enough shuteye have a much higher risk of a stroke.

    So much higher, that you might want to make sure you get to bed early starting tonight -- because poor sleep habits can more than quadruple that stroke risk.

    Interestingly, the study of 4,666 people found that the increased risk of stroke only applied to people who had normal weights -- not the overweight and obese. But since obesity is a stroke risk factor of its own, I wouldn't rest easy over that.

    I'd lose the weight instead, if I were you -- and one way you can start shedding pounds is by simply getting more sleep, since studies have shown that poor sleep habits lead to weight gain.

    It's a vicious cycle, to be sure, but whether you're normal sized or extra large, you can face any number of risks from poor sleep habits -- including an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, atherosclerosis, cancer, and an early death.

    Yes, all that.

    When it comes to sleep, there's no one-size-fits-all formula. Most people need around seven or eight hours, with most of those risks I mentioned increasing as your nightly sleep falls below the six-hour mark.

    Just don't go overboard, either, because other studies have shown that too much sleep can come with almost as many risks as too little. In today's fast-paced, work-late, check-email-all-night environment, however, I'm willing to bet that most people only wish their problems included too much sleep.

  2. How much sleep does your teen really need?

    Look at all the research on kids and sleep, and two things become clear quickly:

    1) Kids don't need as much as most of us think they do, and
    2) They're still not getting enough anyway.

    One new study looked at 37 sleep guidelines for kids issued since 1897 along with more than 200 studies on how much nightly sleep kids have actually gotten during that time and found a few surprises.

    The number of recommended hours of sleep has decreased over the years, and no matter what those hours are or how much they've decreased, kids always manage to get an average of 37 minutes less.

    Anyone who's ever sent a kid to bed at 8:00 in hopes he or she might actually arrive there by 8:30 (or even 8:37) knows how that is.

    And even a century ago, people blamed technology for all those sleep-avoiding kids, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

    Once upon a time, it was that newfangled lightbulb. Today, it's all the digital entertainment options kids have literally at their fingertips: videogames, text messages, music downloads and probably a few things we adults don't even know about.

    It's bad news for many kids because too little sleep has been linked to any number of physical and mental issues in people of all ages -- and in kids in particular, poor sleep has been connected to everything from obesity to low test scores.

    But surprisingly, the sleep guidelines that have been issued over the years have been based on little to no actual science.

    And while no one's saying kids should be allowed to play videogames until dawn, a new look at data on 1,724 primary and secondary school students across the country finds that kids between 16 and 18 years old actually do better on less sleep.

    Federal guidelines call for nine hours a night, but researchers found the kids with the highest test scores actually got around seven.

    Younger kids, on the other hand, needed a little more: Between nine and 9.5 hours a night for 10-year-olds and between eight and 8.5 hours a night when they reach the age of 12, according to the study in Eastern Economics Journal.

    Of course, research is one thing -- but people are different. Some need more, some need less. If the child or grandchild in your life is tired all the time, they're obviously not getting what they need.

    And if they're not studying when they're awake, then even perfect sleep habits won't boost the grades.

  3. Poor sleep linked to hypertension

    If you're battling blood pressure problems, you don't need another med -- you just need better sleep... and that doesn't necessarily mean more sleep.

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