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How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

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How much sleep do you really need? Probably a lot less than you think, says one expert. It’s well known that a good night’s sleep is essential for health. But oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including:

Diabetes: In a study of almost 9,000 Americans, researchers found a relationship between sleep and the risk of diabetes. People who slept more than nine hours each night had a 50 percent greater risk of diabetes than people who slept seven hours per night. This increased risk was also seen in people who slept less than five hours per night.

Obesity: Sleeping too much could make you weigh too much, as well. One recent study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21 percent more likely to become obese over a six-year period.

Headaches: Sleeping longer than usual can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their nighttime sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.

Back pain: There was a time when doctors told people suffering from back pain to head straight to bed. But those days are long gone — they now recommend against sleeping more than usual, when possible.

Depression: Roughly 15 percent of people with depression sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse, because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process. In fact, in certain instances, sleep deprivation can be an effective treatment for depression.

Heart disease: A careful analysis of the data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which involved nearly 72,000 women, showed that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease.

Death: Multiple studies have found that people who sleep nine or more hours a night have significantly higher death rates. No specific reason for this correlation has been determined.

Meanwhile, the common assertion that you need eight or more hours of sleep each night may be incorrect. According to some experts, most people need less than eight hours of sleep each night. Several large studies over the past 40 years show that the average healthy adult sleeps for seven to seven-and-a-half hours a night, and that should be plenty from a physical perspective. Some adults need even less than that and can function normally on just five hours of sleep a night.

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Pomegranate Ranked Healthiest Fruit Juice

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles have ranked 10 beverages according to their antioxidant levels.

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Currently, claims of superior antioxidant activity on beverages can be misleading, as the testing is usually based on a limited spectrum of antioxidant activities.

To get to the bottom of which beverages are best, they used four tests of antioxidant potency, a test of antioxidant functionality, and an evaluation of the total polyphenol content of polyphenol-rich beverages in the marketplace. Here is how the rankings turned out:

1. Pomegranate juice
2. Red wine
3. Concord grape juice
4. Blueberry juice
5. Black cherry juice
6. Açaí juice
7. Cranberry juice
8. Orange juice
9. Tea
10. Apple juice

A Closer Look at Antioxidant-Rich Juices

Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate is the healthiest of them all, because it contains the most of every type of antioxidant. It may protect against some cancers, such as prostate cancer. It might also modify heart disease risk factors.

Concord Grape Juice
Concord grape juice is a source of very potent antioxidants. There’s some research indicating it may be good for your heart and help reduce blood pressure.

Blueberry Juice
Blueberry juice contains lots of antioxidants and fiber, and is very high in vitamin C. There’s some indication that blueberries may have a beneficial effect on age-related cognitive abilities.

Black Cherry Juice
Not only is it high in antioxidants, but there is evidence that black cherry juice can diminish exercise-induced muscle injuries.

Cranberry Juice
It’s also high in antioxidants and vitamin C. There is evidence that it can decrease the incidence of urinary tract infections.

Sources:
Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2008; 56(4): 1415-1422
CBS News July 5, 2008

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