Aaaaah, a good night’s sleep

As I lay awake listening to the thunder storms and wind that crashed through our area last night, I thought

As I lay awake listening to the thunder storms and wind that crashed through our area last night, I thought of one of the most popular tips we’ve been receiving from our call for Best Health readers to submit their best advice: Get enough sleep! And as I write this somewhat bleary eyed this morning, it doesn’t take much convincing that this is sound, common sense advice.

But, coincidently, a more scientific analysis of sleep is also happening this week. SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, is a week-long meeting of international sleep specialists taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. Some of the findings reported so far have implications for how and why we should work at developing our own healthy sleep patterns.

One practical piece of advice: To help you get that important shut-eye, cut back on total fat intake and particularly how much fat you eat at dinner, according to one study from the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Researchers found that increased fat intake was associated with a lower percentage of REM sleep and lower sleep efficiency. In other words, eating too much fatty food before going to bed seemed to “negatively influence” sleep patterns.

On the positive side of the sleep equation, extra shut-eye may improve athletic performance. A study by the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory—also reported at SLEEP 2008— found that athletes who get extra sleep over an extended period of time could see significant improvement in their athletic performance, mood and alertness. The athletes also experienced decreased fatigue and daytime sleepiness as well as increased energy—and who couldn’t use that?

Trouble sleeping? Adults should get between seven and eight hours per night. If you’re not, see Best Health’s A-Z Health Index on Insomnia.

To submit your own Best Health sleep, exercise, nutrition, beauty or health tip, go to Best Health Tips.

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