Counting Sheep Easier Than You Might Think

What do the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine all have in common? The Australian National Sleep Research Project says sleep deprivation contributed to the human mistakes that led to each disaster.

“Getting a good night’s sleep is as important as feeding yourself or putting gas in the car. You absolutely cannot function without it. Start addressing the stress and anxiety in your life by first considering the quality of sleep you get,” says Edward Grandi, Executive Director of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA).

New research is discovering that sleep deprivation has its tenacious claws embedded in 17 separate health conditions. Not getting enough sleep can unleash elevated hostility, lead to anxiety and depression, affect weight loss and obesity and increase chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Avoid the woes of sleep deprivation and protect your long-term health by getting enough quality sleep with these tips from ASAA:

•    Be wary of late-night eating habits. Going to bed overstuffed or hungry will cause your body to spend more energy on digestion and discomfort than sleep. Plus, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can negatively affect the quality of your slumber.

•    Find a sleep schedule and stick to it. Sleep schedules help enforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle, which leads to better sleep. A consistent sleep schedule is even more important for anyone doing shift work – hours that aren’t nine to five – because their inconsistent sleeping habits make them prone to shift work disorder (SWD). SWD is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder characterized by insomnia and excessive drowsiness.

•    Avoid using TV or electronics to fall asleep. New research indicates that TV or laptop use before bed interferes with sleep, especially if the device is left on during the night. Any kind of artificial light, even alarm clocks, can disturb sleep and disrupt REM cycles.

•    Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor. Everyone has restless nights, but if it’s the norm, there may be an underlying cause. There are 84 different sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, SWD, insomnia and narcolepsy, among others.

If constant snoring is your complaint, you could have sleep apnea, an involuntary halt in breathing that may happen up to 300 times a night. Get more tips for quality sleep at

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