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Reading List - Chapter 7: Sleep

Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired, by Till Roenneberg

Early birds and night owls are born, not made. Sleep patterns may be the most obvious manifestation of the highly individualized biological clocks we inherit, but these clocks also regulate bodily functions from digestion to hormone levels to cognition. Living at odds with our internal timepieces, Till Roenneberg shows, can make us chronically sleep deprived and more likely to smoke, gain weight, feel depressed, fall ill, and fail geometry. By understanding and respecting our internal time, we can live better. Internal Time combines storytelling with accessible science tutorials to explain how our internal clocks work-for example, why morning classes are so unpopular and why "lazy" adolescents are wise to avoid them. We learn why the constant twilight of our largely indoor lives makes us dependent on alarm clocks and tired, and why social demands and work schedules lead to a social jet lag that compromises our daily functioning.

Many of the factors that make us early or late "chronotypes" are beyond our control, but that doesn't make us powerless. Roenneberg recommends that the best way to sync our internal time with our external environment and feel better is to get more sunlight. Such simple steps as cycling to work and eating breakfast outside may be the tickets to a good night's sleep, better overall health, and less grouchiness in the morning.

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The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, by Carmel Harrington

Between 20-30% of the population experience problems with either falling asleep or staying asleep. The reasons are many and varied - from anxiety to sleep apnoea or poor sleep hygiene (such as the overuse of technology or too many wines before bed). Short-term effects of too little sleep include changes in mood: we feel tired, cranky, depressed, unmotivated, indecisive and unable to process information. We'll be disinclined to exercise. Our appetite hormones become irregular, so we experience a strong desire to eat all the wrong types of food: chocolate, chips and hamburgers. People suffering from chronic insomnia are far more likely to develop depression, certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease, metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes and obesity and, to top off an already grim picture, are more likely to die younger.

Dr Carmel Harrington knows that sleep solutions are not a one-size-fits-all. Sleep is highly individual and there are many reasons why you may not be sleeping well. In this definitive guide, she examines the process of sleep, the particular reasons why you are having trouble sleeping well, the behaviour patterns that hinder your restful sleep, and helps you to uncover ways to achieve deep, restful sleep on a permanent basis.

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Night School: The Life-Changing Science of Sleep, by Richard Wiseman

Almost a third of your whole life is spent asleep. Every night you close your eyes, become oblivious to your surroundings and waste hours flying, being chased or watching all your teeth fall out – and then you wake up. What on earth is going on? Based on exciting new peer-reviewed research, mass-participation experiments and the world’s largest archive of dream reports, Night School uncovers the truth about the sleeping brain – and gives powerful tips on how you can use those hours of apparently ‘dead’ time to change your waking life. Along the way you will discover how to learn information while you sleep, the creative potential of a six-minute nap, and what your dreams really mean.

Studies show that even a small lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on health and happiness. It’s time to banish nightmares, make the most of the missing third of your days, and get the best night’s sleep of your life.

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