Sunday, November 12, 2006

Routine Sleep Good for Our Brains

Regular, consistent sleep routines along with short naps are good for our brains, as these recent research findings show:

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found that doctors who took short naps improved their performance and alertness, compared to a control group who did not take sleep breaks. Previous studies of truck drivers and pilots have found the same thing. In our generally sleep-deprived culture, we might wonder if a little nap (30 minutes or less) might also improve our own alertness and performance. Ironically, our culture dictates that naps are a sign of laziness.

In a finding which I believe is related to the pace and sleep-deprivation that we all think is necessary for good performance, researchers at the University of Virginia studied the "mortality link" and found that jet-lag conditions hasten death in older mice. We may not want to study that one in humans.

Let's face it. More studies than we can count conclude the same thing: regular, consistent sleep, regular, consistent physical exercise, regular, consistent mental stimulation, and a consistently nutritious diet help keep us fit and healthy: body, mind, and probably soul. And equally interesting, to balance all that regular, consistent stuff, we also seem to be programmed to search for new challenges and learn about new things. We're just healthier and happier when we do.

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