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Special Feature

The Science of Sleep: What Do We Know Thus Far?

By Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep To Live Institute It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th cen- tury that scientists started to take a real in- terest in sleep from a neurological perspec- tive and not until the late 1980’s that sleep medicine was recognized as a specialty by the American Medical Association (AMA). In this time, we have learned a lot about vari- ous aspects of human sleep cycles and the

stages that make up our sleep. There is still much to learn as we take this new medical discipline into the 21st century. So, what do we know thus far? Sleep is a function of the human body as essen- tial as breathing. It is a complex process that changes to fit our needs throughout our life; babies will spend most of the day sleeping and in a proportion of sleep stag- es completely different from an adult. Sim- ilarly, the elderly will tend to sleep less and

10 Interesting Facts About Sleep

Most adults need an average of

seven to nine hours of sleep each night

‘Good night

sleep tight’ comes from

Shakespearian times when your mattress was secured by ropes—tying the ropes tighter

made your mattress firmer

A bath makes you sleepy because your

body’s core

Visit / 32 Sleep Retailer / Fall 2015

temperature drops upon you getting out

Teenagers need at least eight and half to nine and

a quarter hours of sleep each night—but their internal

biological clocks can keep them awake later in the

evening and interfere with waking in the morning

Studies have shown that fragmented sleep can lower your

metabolism and increase your levels of the hormone

cortisol—which can result in an increased appetite and

decreased ability to burn calories

You burn

more calories sleeping than watching TV

with varying amounts of sleep stages than those seen in younger adults. The sleep and wake cycle that we move through every day is mediated by a process called the circadian rhythm. This process picks up cues (called zeitgebers) from external stimuli, of which the primary one is daylight. The zeitge- bers move the circadian rhythm through phases on a roughly 24-hour schedule. The phases are marked by hormone releases such as mel- atonin and core body temperature changes.

You have an average of about six sleep over 50

Even in REM periods, one of

deepest stages of sleep, you can still wake up

the when you hear your own

name called out A snail can sleep for

three years straight

You have an average of

five dreams per every

eight hours you sleep

position changes per night, but smaller movements can total

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