Push for sound sleep in 2013

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Losing sleep over stress from the job? The family? Just plain life? Over 50 million Americans don't get the recommended night's rest.

When things get hectic, sleep often becomes optional, but Harvard research shows sleep can improve mood, memory and health.

One study showed that night owl habits may reduce insulin and slow metabolism. Simply put, they could be making you fat. People who sleep less than 5.6 hours a night are at higher risks for obesity and diabetes.

Need some inspiration? A California study showed people who took naps that reached REM stage were 40-percent more effective at creative problem-solving than those who did not.

Another Harvard study confirmed that dreaming about a task leads to better performance.

Finally, can we control our dreams? Maybe. An MIT study showed that researchers could use sound cues to control the dreams of mice. One day, people may use similar techniques to enhance great memories or block bad ones while they sleep.

If you are having trouble falling asleep, avoid snacking after eight at night.  Harvard Medical School recommends light dinners several hours before anticipated bedtime for a full night's rest.  Also, don't watch television while you're trying to go to sleep. And the worse your sleep problems are, the cooler your bedroom should be. Experts say start at 68 degrees and lower your thermometer to 65 or even 60 if you still can't fall asleep.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.  Read more from the CDC at www.cdc.gov.

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