Benefits of Sleep

Sleep Scientists Want Your Workdays to Start Later

A team of sleep scientists have an idea and I think we'd better hear them out: One way to ensure that adults get more sleep could be to focus on "delaying the morning start time of work," or at least making it more flexible. 10 a.m. seems reasonable, offers a paper published online this week in the journal SLEEP.

After analyzing results from 124,517 American adults on their sleep and work habits, as recorded in the American Time Use Surveys from 2003 to 2011, lead study author Dr. Mathias Basner of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and colleagues found an (unsurprising) association between earlier starting times for work or school and less time spent sleeping. "Results show that with every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by approximately 20 minutes," explains the press release. "Respondents slept an average of only 6 hours when starting work before or at 6 a.m. and 7:29 hours when starting work between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m."

9 Science-Backed Reasons Why You Should Go to Bed Early

Show of hands if you've ever stayed up way too late texting with friends, catching up on TV shows, or scrolling aimlessly through Pinterest or Reddit. Yep, plenty of us are guilty as charged -- and as a result, we end up feeling exhausted in the morning.

That most Americans are falling short on getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night is nothing new. Clearly though, not everyone who fails to log enough shut eye actually has trouble sleeping. Plenty of us are just staying up too late or putting off bedtime in favor of other activities.

But over time, staying awake into the wee hours can come with a hefty cost. Here are nine surprising ways you can benefit from ditching, or at least minimizing, your night owl habit and following a consistently early bedtime schedule.

Why do we sleep?

Sleep is a normal, indeed essential part of our lives. But if you think about it, it is such an odd thing to do.

At the end of each day we become unconscious and paralyzed. Sleep made our ancestors vulnerable to attack from wild animals. So the potential risks of this process, which is universal among mammals and many other groups, must offer some sort of evolutionary advantage.

Research in this area was slow to take off. But recently there has been a series of intriguing results that are giving researchers a new insight into why we sleep and what happens when we do it.

Go to Sleep: It May Be the Best Way to Avoid Getting Alzheimer’s

Poor sleep may be contributing to the buildup of the brain plaques that drive the Alzheimer's disease.

Doctors studying Alzheimer’s disease have known for a while now that their patients are poor sleepers. But does the disease result in disrupted sleep, or do unhealthy sleep habits contribute to the disease?

Reporting in Nature Neuroscience, researchers led by Matthew Walker at the University of California, Berkeley, describe for the first time a unique pattern of sleep brain waves that seems to be linked to a higher risk of building up the brain proteins that can lead to impaired memory.