10 Things You Didn't Know About ... Sleep

1. Chronic snoring can be treated by uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, a surgical procedure that tightens the tissues of the soft palate and throat. Possible side effects include changes in voice frequency.
2. Another option involves injecting the palate with a chemical to harden the soft tissue. This is called a snoroplasty, derived from the Greek word "plastos," meaning "molded," and somewhat lamely from the English word snore, meaning "snore."
3. Baaaad idea: A 2002 study by Oxford University researchers concluded, brilliantly, that the traditional practice of counting sheep is an ineffective cure for insomnia. The mental activity is so boring that other problems and concerns inevitably surface.
4. Mattresses have an average life span of eight to 10 years. They grow some nasty stuff in that time; one study links mattress bacteria to sudden infant death syndrome.
5. An adult bed bug can survive up to one year without feeding.
6. In 2004, Americans filled more than 35 million prescriptions for sleeping pills. The number of adults aged 20 to 44 taking pills to help them fall asleep has doubled in the last four years.
7. More than 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year result from drowsiness. Drivers talking on cell phones increase the rate by 6 percent, so don't call someone if you get tired.
8. Your alarm is set for 6 a.m. -- why do you wake up at 5:59 a.m.? The body's internal alarm clock, which enables some people to wake up naturally at the time they desire, is triggered by the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. The levels of this hormone begin to rise an hour or two before an expected wake-up call, to prepare the body gradually for the stress of waking up.
9. A six-year study of a million adults showed that people who get only six to seven hours of sleep a night have a lower death rate than those who get eight hours. Maybe it's those late nights watching QVC.
10. In 1964, 17-year-old Randy Gardner stayed awake for 264 hours and 12 minutes, the officially recognized world record. He then slept for 15 hours -- not a record, but not bad.


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