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Getting enough sleep?

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

In the 1960s TV comedy/fantasy "I Dream of Jeannie," Major Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman) often failed to express himself clearly; unfortunately, his genie, Jeannie (Barbara Eden), took almost everything he said literally. The combo got him into a lot of trouble.

In a current bit of science -- no fantasy here -- it turns out your genes' proper self-expression depends on making sure you spend enough time dreaming.

We've mentioned before that lack of sleep increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, foggy thinking and a slower reaction time. But now we know why. When you don't get enough shut-eye, you damage what's called gene expression, the translation of basic info encoded in your genes into protein production that, in turn, sends out messages that influence how every cell in your body operates. And instead of humming along, producing a specific protein in a well-regulated way, some genes trigger the production of very confused or abnormal proteins. These abnormal proteins cause dysfunction in your metabolism and immune system (never a good thing) and increase bodywide inflammation and stress.

So, if you're not getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep most nights, you want to start a "Dream of Jeannie" routine: Set a bedtime and stick to it. No TV or digital devices in the bedroom. Use earplugs or eyeshades if noise or light bothers you. Don't eat within about three hours of hitting the hay. And don't try to put one over on your gene-ies.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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