Sleep Your Way to Happiness

Many studies have shown the lasting health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. The latest research from the University of Binghamton suggests that 40 winks may also help you stay calm and think positive thoughts.

New research affirms the adage that seven to eight hours of sleep a night does a body (and mind) good.  (Photo: Marilyn Nieves/GettyImages)

New research affirms the adage that seven to eight hours of sleep a night does a body (and mind) good. (Photo: Marilyn Nieves/GettyImages)

A team at the university’s anxiety clinic gave questionnaires to 100 young adults and administered several tests to find out how much time the students spent worrying, contemplating or obsessing about different issues. Measuring these three activities is a way of assessing negative, repetitive thinking.

The study participants’ sleep schedules were also monitored to determine if they were morning or evening people and how long they slept each night.

Study results showed that people who sleep fewer hours each night and go to bed later often experience more negative, repetitive thoughts than people who turn in early and get good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that seven to eight hours (no more and no less) was the right range for most people.

According to researchers, the study results not only showed the value of getting the proper amount of sleep but also underscored the importance of going to sleep at the right time of the evening.

Black Women and ZZZs

Men and women from different backgrounds have very complicated relationships to sleep. One study found, for example, that black women are less likely to have insomnia than white women, but only because we supposedly have more effective mechanisms for repressing negative thoughts.

Other research has shown that men sleep better than women, but older black Americans have an easier time drifting off each night than African-American college students.

Getting the right amount sleep, however, helps to regulate your blood pressure, heart rate and immune system — protecting you from a range of health problems.

Banish the Toss-and-Turn Blues

If you are having trouble sleeping, these tips from the National Sleep Foundation may help:

▪ Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even when you travel and on weekends, to regulate your body clock.

▪ Establish a relaxing bedtime ritual. Wind down and stay away from bright lights and exciting or anxiety-producing activities.

▪ Try not to take naps, especially in the afternoon, if you have trouble falling asleep at night.

▪ Get at least a half hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. It’s OK to exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.

▪ Avoid eating heavy or spicy meals, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes late in the evening. (Fierce recommends that you not smoke at all.) It’s best to finish eating two or three hours before sleeping.

Safe Streets, Solid Families Spur Achievement in Urban Youth

A new University of Illinois at Chicago study of what spurs academic achievement in urban youth found that strong families and safe neighborhoods are key. Questionnaires evaluating students’ statements and their link to academic performance found that young people who strongly agreed with these phrases: “I can be successful”; “I can talk with parents about bad things” and “I can be safe within a few blocks from home” did best in school.