Ron Kramer, MD, of the Colorado Neurology Institute’s Sleep Disorders Center, in Englewood, Colo, says before you make your new year’s resolution, resolve to get enough sleep to optimize your health.

"There is growing medical literature showing that many of us in today’s ’24/7′ society are not getting the basic sleep we need every day," says Kramer. "At the same time, there is increasing evidence from human sleep researchers that chronic lack of even a few hours of sleep a night can result in significant health consequences. These consequences include an increased risk of accidents, fatigue that makes you prone to depressive symptoms, or not enough energy to exercise and even chemical changes that stimulate your brain to eat more and to eat more salty and sugary food."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides the following seven signs that one may need more sleep:

1.  You’re dependent on an alarm clock.

2.  You’re driving drowsy.

3.  You’re attached to the coffee pot.

4.  You’re making mistakes.

5.  You’re forgetful.

6.  You’re struggling with depression.

7.  You’re getting sick.

The good news, notes Kramer, is that most of these changes are all reversible with the implementation of good sleep practices.

"Resolve to sleep well this year and you may find that the energy to exercise and the self-control for healthy eating may then more easily follow," Kramer says.

On average, most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well-rested. Adolescents should sleep about 9 hours a night, school-aged children between 10 to 11 hours a night, and children in preschool between 11 to 13 hours a night.

[www.medicalnewstoday.com, December 18, 2007]