Why you need to sleep on it

August 25, 2010 3:08:32 PM PDT
Sleep is one of the most important parts of the day, even though we're not aware of it when we do it.

Lack of sleep can affect your brain and heart, even how well you think.

A couple of new reports say sleeplessness may make you less creative, and catching up on sleep may not be possible.

We've all avoided sleep to read a book, watch tv or to study hard, but what are we missing?

Maybe the ability to solve a problem or to think creatively. Francis lai is visiting from California.

"I had a problem during the day and when I woke up I could solve the problem," Lai said.

Lai's experience, and that of many others, is in sync with findings at a recent sleep conference that looked at rapid eye movement sleep, called REM. That's when we dream and connect the dots of daytime events.

The longer you sleep, the more likely you are to have REM sleep.

One presented study found that creative problem solving improved by 40 per cent with REM sleep compared to those who had no REM sleep.

Have you ever had a week when you're had a few nights of poor sleep, and then sleep for ten hours or so on Friday or Saturday? Do you think that makes up for the lost sleep?

Another sleep study found weekend oversleepers had lapses in attention, slow reaction time and fatigue for several days. And physical stuff, too.

"You may be more susceptible to infections and also signs of inflammations that can affect the heart and the brain," Dr. Charles Bae of the Cleveland Clinic said.

So save your heart and brain with these sleep tips:

  • Keep the bedroom quiet and dark.
  • Don't read or watch tv in bed.
  • Use the bedroom only for sleep or sex.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time.

    Exercise can help you sleep better, but do it early in the day, at least not within a few hours of bedtime.

    Dr. Bae adds that lack of sleep can have a jarring effect on the body's immune system, and over years, may lead to overweight. Sleep may be the easiest diet to follow.