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HEALTH WATCH : Get to Know Mr. Sandman Better

September 14, 1993

When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, do you draaaaaag yourself out of bed thinking that perhaps you spent the night in an aerobics-a-thon instead of sleeping?

Throughout the day do you have that tired, run-down feeling, like maybe you--not Lucy--should have been doing that Vitameatavegamin commercial?

You are in The Land of The Sleep Deprived.

Experts say millions of adult Americans aren't getting enough sleep. Although not everyone needs the same 9 1/2 hours that youngsters do, grown-ups should get seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night. We average six to seven.

"In our society, time is the ultimate commodity and sleep is seen as a colossal waste of time. We stay up late to watch TV. We get up early to exercise," says David Dinges, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

If you're not getting enough sleep, you're likely to feel excessively tired during routine situations. Drifting off during meetings is a common sight.

Says Timothy Roehrs, director of research at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit: "If you're getting enough sleep, you should be able to awaken spontaneously some mornings without needing to hear the alarm clock."

Most people try to catch up with lost bedtime by sleeping in on weekends, but it's actually better to try going to bed a half-hour earlier each night, say the pros.

(For answers to sleep-related questions, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the National Sleep Foundation, 122 S. Robertson Blvd., Third Floor, Los Angeles 90048.)

Marcia Knows Best

Is that little Marcia Brady all grown up and talking about birth control?

Sure is. Actress/mother/everybody's sister Maureen McCormick will circle the country this fall for a series of educational seminars on contraception. The lectures are sponsored by pharmaceutical king Upjohn Co.

"On 'The Brady Bunch,' we lived in a seemingly perfect world," McCormick said recently. "But we all know that's not reality. Sex, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives were considered taboo topics then, but they need to be discussed today. These are our bodies. We must learn how to protect them."

This health roundup, compiled from wire-service reports, appears in View on Tuesdays.

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