Study: New Mexicans Need More Sleep
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Getting a good night's sleep often depends on where you live, and also can include your race, age and gender.
In New Mexico, the United Health Foundation reports about 30% of people do not get adequate sleep, compared with 32% nationwide.
Vince Clark, professor and director of the Psychology Clinical Neuroscience Center at the University of New Mexico, said too little sleep leads to poor health outcomes.
"Pretty much every organ system suffers, partly because one of the things you do during sleep is rebuild your body," Clark pointed out. "It takes a lot of energy to rebuild muscle, bones -- washing out toxins -- a lot of that happens at night."
Clark is heading up new memory research designed to uncover how a simple 50-millisecond speck of sound will impact memory storage and retrieval and offer a better night's sleep. He is currently working with college students but hopes to expand his research to seniors and older people at risk for dementia and Alzheimer's.
Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare, said there are many tips for sleeping well, including a consistent bedtime routine, and there also are things you should not do.
"Avoid eating large meals before bedtime," Johar advised. "Those can cause a lot of restless sleep and problems."
Experts say 7 to 8 hours of sleep is recommended for most people. It's well known our ancestors, who had no access to electricity, went to sleep when it was dark and got up at the crack of dawn. If you follow a similar patter, Clark acknowledged less sleep might be fine.
"People living the kind of lifestyle that all our ancestors had, not that long ago, don't sleep 8 hours," Clark noted. "They sleep six-and-a-half, on the average. So it's really not clear what natural, normal, healthy sleep really is."
To get to sleep, Clark said he occasionally takes a natural hormone such as melatonin, but warned people can develop a dependence on such products or experience side effects. Instead, he recommended getting some exercise during the day to help you fall asleep more easily at night.
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