Lack of sleep will catch up to you in more ways than one – Harvard Gazette

So how to sleep better?

Spencer recommends “controlling the controllables.” She noted that while you may not be able to lower your neighbors’ volume or dim the streetlights, there are other strategies for making an environment more rest-friendly. One example is “exposing yourself to light during the day, particularly outside natural light, but then keeping your environment dark at night.” Another tactic: moving around. “Exercising is something that you can do, if nothing else, that can clear your mind,” Spencer said. “That’s part of the rumination problem a lot of people have as they’re trying to fall asleep.”

If it doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up, said Elizabeth Klerman, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Instead, resolve to make up for the lost sleep on a weekend or a day off. Your body will cooperate. “There’s no evidence that you can oversleep,” said Klerman. “Unlike chocolate cake you can eat when you’re not hungry, there’s no evidence you can sleep when you’re not tired.”

The danger comes when a person loses sleep over the long term: “There are effects on memory and on your risk of dementia.”

Seixas said that if you do find yourself losing sleep on a regular basis, it may be possible to adjust other aspects of your routine to mitigate negative effects. “We’ve been able to find different profiles and different recommendations of people who may get six hours of sleep but can make certain alterations in their lives and lifestyles to balance out their risk for cardio metabolic health conditions.”

As for what lawmakers can do to help their constituents, the panelists agreed that movements to change daylight saving time are ill-advised. Instead, lawmakers should opt for solutions that prioritize sleep itself, like later school start times and public health campaigns about sleep hygiene.

“A combination of science, public policy, public education, advocacy — I think all of them are going to be important in trying to address the daylight saving time issue as well as other things related to structural and racial inequalities,” Klerman said. “We need science but we also need communication.”


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4 responses to “Lack of sleep will catch up to you in more ways than one – Harvard Gazette

  1. Thanks for your informative post, Tony. Sleep is a fascinating topic for science to explore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a big believer in getting enough sleep – very important. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

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