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9 New Lessons We've Learned About Sleep And Health

The Huffington Post   Posted: 03/05/2012 8:39 am EST

Today kicks off National Sleep Awareness Week, the annual campaign by the National Sleep Foundation that runs from March 5 to 11 to remind people about the importance and value of sleep.

Multiple studies have shown that not getting enough sleep each night is linked with poor mental performance, a bad mood, and even an increased risk of health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health.

For most adults, seven to eight hours is the prime amount of sleep to get a night, while kids and newborns require even more sleep. As the NIH puts it, "how well rested you are and how well you function the next day depend on your total sleep time and how much of the various stages of sleep you get each night."

For the latest and greatest in sleep, check out our round-up of the top sleep findings that have come out in the last few months.

Circadian Rhythms Influence Immunity
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If you've ever been afraid of getting sick when your sleep patterns are off, you might be on to something.

A study in mice published just last month in the journal Immunity shows that the circadian clock -- which determines when we are tired, hungry or alert -- is also in charge of controlling an immune system gene, HuffPost's Catherine Pearson reported.

"People intuitively know that when their sleep patterns are disturbed, they are more likely to get sick," study author Erol Fikrig, professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, said in a statement. "It does appear that disruptions of the circadian clock influence our susceptibility to pathogens."