News Stories

Insomnia

Scientists have recently discovered that most people in the US are lonely. Now it turns out a lot of us have insomnia too (maybe we need to meet someone nice to sleep with). But many of us don't realize we have a problem, because we THINK we sleep more than we actually DO.

It turns out that, like almost everything else, it all comes down to our DNA. This realization may help scientists to finally develop effective sleeping pills that don't make us groggy the next morning. Drug makers spend billions to develop drugs to help people with sleep disorders. The reason many people have insomnia is that their biological clocks aren't working correctly. Mathematician Daniel Forger has discovered that some people have genes that cause them to routinely wake up very early every day, around 4 a.m., so they must also go to bed early, around 7 p.m. Since most people can't do this, they end up not getting enough sleep.

Forger says that this is the type of schedule that most people probably followed before the invention of artificial lighting. He says, "When they have light and dark cycles in the normal world, they pretty much have to live in a 24-hour day."

A new study reveals that people aren't sleeping as much as they think they are. Instead of relying on earlier sleep studies, which relied on the answers to questions, researchers actually monitored how long people slept, by attaching devices to over 650 people while they were asleep. It turns out while they spent about 7 ? hours in bed every night, they only SLEPT for around 6 of those hours.

Lack of sleep has been linked to: a reduced ability to concentrate and a decreased attention to detail (meaning you don't want to be on a highway with an insomniac driver, especially if he's talking on a cell phone), as well as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. The diabetes comes from being too fat and the obesity probably comes from eating too much food to compensate for a lack of energy caused by not getting enough sleep.

In LiveScience.com, Robert Roy Britt quotes researcher Diane Lauderdale as saying, "People don't think they get enough sleep and they get less sleep than they think."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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