Setting the stage for sounder sleep

Sleeping less doesn't have to be a consequence of growing older. A few adjustments to your sleep habits can help you sleep longer and better.


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If worries that you're not getting enough sleep are keeping you up at night, it's little wonder. A steady stream of reports has linked inadequate sleep to cognitive decline. Studies have also shown that people with sleep debts accrued by consecutive nights of sleeping too little are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain.

Sleep is essential to good health, and not just because it knits up the raveled sleeve of care. It restores physical and mental performance, immune function, and metabolism. But how much sleep is necessary for those functions? It varies from person to person, says Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a physiologist and physician at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital who studies sleep.

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