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Snooze News

     Eight hours of sleep—if you can get it—has always been the standard for good health. No more, no less: if you wanted to be alert all day, stay healthy and live a long life, you had to sleep for eight hours. Easy to say. . . hard to do. There was a brief move to go to nine hours, but that didn't last.

     I sure haven't slept eight hours faithfully every night of my life. You probably haven't either. Heaven forbid. What kind of a social life could you have, going to bed at ten o'clock every night? But if you're like me, every now and then you've tried to get in "a good eight hours" to make up for all those late hours and sleepless nights. Have to keep the body healthy and the mind alert—and sleeping, unlike dieting and exercising, is fairly easy to do. 

     About the eight hours—I've got news for you. There was this new sleep study reported on KPBS last week. If it was on Public Broadcasting, it had to be legit, right? Apparently much research was done over many years with—I assume—many sleeping subjects. The end result was to blast our life-long sleep assumptions straight out the window into the dark night sky.

     This study proved—I use the term lightly— that the notion of a healthy eight hours of sleep is outdated, old, and yes, rather less healthy than we thought. I didn't catch by whom, or how, these studies were done, but the conclusion or findings or miraculous insight, or whatever it is that studies produce, pronounced that seven is the new eight. Seven hours of sleep will decrease your mortality rate. Seven hours: no more, no less, otherwise beware!

     Yes. Mortality rate. What is that anyway? We all die—right? More about mortality rates later. . . Your life depends on abiding by the newly-revised optimal seven hours of sleep. Any divergence affects your chances of death. Sleep an extra hour—mortality rate goes up ten percent; sleep an hour less—your mortality rate goes up ten percent. Gotta be seven hours. They didn't say what happens if you sleep four hours or twelve hours. You'd prob'ly be dead when you wake up.

     This "mortality rate" thing has me befuzzled. According to this study, if you sleep an hour more or an hour less than seven hours a night, your mortality rate increases by ten percent. You're gonna be ten percent more likely to die??? Funny me, I thought we were all one hundred percent likely to die but if it helps my chances, I'll take the seven hours and be ten percent less likely to die. Puts a whole new perspective on those hundred years I'd planned to stay on this earth. Looks like with seven hours a night, I have a ten percent chance more of not dying than you have. Unless you go for the seven hours, too.

     Let's meet for breakfast an hour earlier from now on—you know, so we won't be tempted to sleep in for that risky eighth hour. Happy snoozing...

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