60 Minutes' reporter, Leslie Stahl, talked with sleep researchers from across the United States. Here are the latest findings about the effects of sleep, or the lack of it: You can die from sleep deprivation, just like you can die from being deprived of food. Sleep can actually enhance your memories. A single night of sleeping just four, five or even six hours can impact your ability to think clearly. Sleep deprivation can cause changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders. Sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you've already eaten.
Here's what you can do to get the shut-eye you need...
Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in your room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin.
No TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom or even out of the house, completely. It is too stimulating to your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
Wear socks to bed. Due to the fact that they have the poorest circulation, your feet often feel cold before the rest of your body. A study has shown that wearing socks reduces night wakings
Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly our adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11PM and 1AM.
Keep the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly the upstairs bedrooms too hot.
Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.