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Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 03/03/2012

Wake up! It’s sleep awareness week!

Good morning! And welcome to the start of Sleep Awareness Week.


(Matt McClain - For The Washington Post)

This is a good time to reflect upon whether you’re getting enough sleep and, if not, how that might be affecting your life and what you might do to change things. I know I think about these things nearly every day, because no matter how firm my resolve, I end up nodding off with a book in my lap and waking up tired the next morning.

There’s been a bit of sleep-related research released lately, and surely this week of awareness will bring more. First, the National Sleep Foundation Saturday released the results of its annual poll on the nation’s sleep habits and their myriad implications. This year’s edition focused on transportation workers. Among the key findings: “11 percent of pilots, train operators, bus, taxi, and limo drivers and 8 percent of truck drivers as well as 7 percent of non-transportation workers are ‘sleepy.’”

Here’s other recent news on sleep:

Older people get plenty: Of sleep, that is. Contrary to anecdotal reports, a study published in the journal Sleep says that older people actually have more satisfactory sleep than young adults do.

Sleeping pills kill? An alarming study published at bmj.com found that people taking sleeping pills, even very few and very infrequently, were at greatly increased risk of dying early than those who don’t; they also had higher incidence of cancer. But the study's been criticized for what some say is flawed methodology.

Caffeine affects night owls, early birds differently: Research published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that, among the 50 college students who participated, those who were “morning people” were more likely to have their night’s sleep disrupted (waking after they’d initially fallen asleep) by consuming caffeine during the day. Those who were night owls could consume caffeine without waking up during the night.

The CDC says adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep nightly but that more than a third of us sleep less than seven hours a night. Too little sleep is associated with daytime drowsiness and with unintentionally falling asleep in the daytime — including when behind the wheel. People who chronically get too little sleep may suffer “self-reported anxiety, depressive symptoms, and frequent mental and physical distress,” according to the CDC.

Here are tips from the National Sleep Foundation for catching better ZZZs.

By  |  12:01 PM ET, 03/03/2012

 
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