Sleep problems sky high down South
New research puts regional sleep problems on the map.
Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Photo: Getty Images
Forget sleepless in Seattle— Westerners are getting better sleep than their Southern cousins.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mapped out sleep problems in the U.S. A clear pattern emerged: Compared to the West, Southern states are more likely to report fatigue during the day and sleep disturbance at night. Sleep disturbances disturb your heath and beauty— so the West must be more beautiful than the South.
Here’s one reason why: Sleep problems rob your brain and bodies’ precious restoration time. You see it when you can’t get rid of those sunken eyes and circles come morning. Getting great sleep actually has the reverse effect— clocking seven hours of quality sleep a night can turn back the clock by three years.
Why might people be sleeping less soundly in states like Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia? In this area, researchers also found regional differences in mental health and access to medical care. When poor healthcare leads to poor sleep quality it’s a vicious cycle, because bad sleep takes a toll on your health.
This region also sees higher obesity rates, which sleep problems only make worse. When you lose sleep, your body pumps out a hormone that makes you hungry (ghrelin), while making less leptin, the hormone that says, “stop eating!”
Sleep campaigns and screening programs for sleep problems can be targeted at these specific areas now that researchers have a clearer picture of where the biggest sleep deficits lie. In the meantime, you can try these simple steps for your best sleep:
Sleep and rise at the same time.
Yes, even on the weekends! Try to get up within an hour of when you would’ve on a weekday.
Keep it cool and dark.
Hit the lights and stay as cool as you can. That may mean dialing the thermostat down to 67, or slipping off your socks once your feet are a little too warm and cozy.
Feast on the right foods at night.
Oats have this body-clock regulating substance. Try tryptophan-filled complex carbs like whole-grains, which raise serotonin levels. One-hundred percent whole grain rice is an especially good choice— it’s a source of melatonin, too! Nix the caffeine and late-night eating, but allow yourself some warm skim milk.
Leave your bedroom for romance and slumbers, only.
Take gadgets and their non-red light glow out of your sanctuary (red light doesn’t disturb sleep cycles).
Get ready to see your youthful, fresh face in the morning— a visible reminder that sleep’s doing your body well.
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