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7 Hours Sleep Just Right

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- Seven hours appears to be the magic number for sleep.

- The risk of cardiovascular disease increases for those who sleep more or less than seven hours a night.

- The most at-risk group was adults under 60 years of age who slept five hours or fewer a night.

People who sleep more or fewer than seven hours a day, including naps, are increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, a study published Sunday shows.

Sleeping fewer than five hours a day, including naps, more than doubles the risk of being diagnosed with angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke, the study conducted by researchers at West Virginia University's (WVU) faculty of medicine and published in the journal Sleep says.

And sleeping more than seven hours also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, it says.

Study participants who said they slept nine hours or longer a day were one-and-a-half times more likely than seven-hour sleepers to develop cardiovascular disease, the study found.

The most at-risk group was adults under 60 years of age who slept five hours or fewer a night. They increased their risk of developing cardiovascular disease more than threefold compared to people who sleep seven hours.

Women who skimped on sleep, getting five hours or fewer a day, including naps, were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

Short sleep duration was associated with angina, while both sleeping too little and sleeping too much were associated with heart attack and stroke, the study says.

A separate study, also published in Sleep, showed that an occasional long lie-in can be beneficial for those who can't avoid getting too little sleep.

In that study, David Dinges, who heads the sleep and chronobiology unit at the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine, found that 142 adults whose sleep was severely restricted for five days -- as it is for many people during the work week -- had slower reaction times and more trouble focusing.

But after a night of recovery sleep, the sleep-deprived study participants' alertness improved significantly, and the greatest improvements were seen in those who were allowed to spend 10 hours in bed after a week with just four hours' sleep a night.

"An additional hour or two of sleep in the morning after a period of chronic partial sleep loss has genuine benefits for continued recovery of behavioral alertness," Dinges said.

In the study about sleep and cardiovascular disease, researchers led by Anoop Shankar, associate professor at WVU's department of community medicine, analyzed data gathered in a national US study in 2005 on more than 30,000 adults.

The results were adjusted for age, sex, race, whether the person smoked or drank, whether they were fat or slim, and whether they were active or a couch potato.

And even when study participants with diabetes, high blood pressure or depression were excluded from the analysis, the strong association between too much or too little sleep and cardiovascular disease remained.

The authors of the WVU study were unable to determine the causal relationship between how long a person sleeps and cardiovascular disease.

But they pointed out that sleep duration affects endocrine and metabolic functions, and sleep deprivation can lead to impaired glucose tolerance, reduced insulin sensitivity and elevated blood pressure, all of which increase the risk of hardening the arteries.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that most adults get about seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Shankar suggested that doctors screen for changes in sleep duration when assessing patients' risk for cardiovascular disease, and that public health initiatives consider including a focus on improving sleep quality and quantity.

Short sleep duration was associated with angina, while both sleeping too little and sleeping too much were associated with heart attack and stroke.

Similar to how the sun, a rooster or clanging bells used to wake us, now we employ all sorts of high-tech solutions for ceasing our slumber. There are literally tons of takes on the alarm clock. Some use technology to wake us gently, while others jolt us out of bed in a panic. What we've compiled here isn't an exhaustive list -- which would be ironic, not to mention taking forever to assemble. For instance, we've already covered those gradually increasing light ones in the past. And you won't see any of the fragrance producing devices here either. We acknowledge those. But we think it's about time to give these twelve unique, creative, truly techie alarm clocks their due.

The (Circadian) Rhythm Method The Alarming Clock. London designer Natalie Duckett is -- as we speak -- putting the final touches on her creatively wooden take on the dual-alarm clock. Rather than simply signaling a time or two to wake up, this elm-based time tracker will alert you when it's a good time to sleep like a log. The idea is to improve your sleep duration and quality through a better evening wind-down ritual. The signal, designed to mimic the sound of a woodpecker, will be created mechanically with a beak (of sorts). All we know is that when this new clock is officially ready, we look forward to being amongst the first to hear about it (based on our pecking order, of course).

Woodwind-Inspired Sophistication Beotime: $410. This multifaceted flute-like device can control the basic operations (power, channel, volume, etc.) of other B & O products. It can activate a sleep timer allowing you to drift off to an external audio source for up to two hours. When you touch or move it, it displays the current time on its little squares, reoriented to whatever direction it's held/placed. And yes, despite its totally tubular aluminum styling and varied functionality, it's an alarm clock. Along with its unique chime, you can also set it to wake you to music, radio or TV. And its motion sensor requires only a soft touch to activate a 10-minute snooze.

Water Treatment The Bedol Water Clock: $29. When you were a kid, perhaps you had one of those mean parents who crassly splashed water on you to wake you up. Well, the Water Clock uses water to wake you up, but in a much less harsh and more ingenious way. Rather than shocking the life into you, it uses the H20 -- in conjunction with its metallic plates -- for power. So you essentially just have a very simple, green, cordless little clock that never needs batteries.

Enough to Wake the Dead ClearSounds SW200 ShakeUp to WakeUp Dual Large Display Alarm Clock: $89.95. The dual-alarm ShakeUp to WakeUp has a singular mission in life: To wake you up any which way it can. Let's start with a pitch-adjustable, multi-tone 87dB alarm in a 520Hz sound wave pattern, capable of waking hibernating bears from eight miles away. It's got bright little built-in LEDs that flash, but you can also plug in your bedside lamp for extra shining power. And why not plug in your telephone as well? Yup, it can make that ring in a special pattern. And just to make sure you don't doze through all that cacophony, it comes with a 12V vibrating pad you can slip under your pillow or mattress pad. Rest assured, as you groggily ease out of your coma, you'll be looking at big, clear digits on the mondo display. Up and at 'em, no excuses!

Old School Look, New School Rock Tick Tock SD/USB/FM Radio: $69.99. From the front, it looks like a retro alarm clock; but further inspection -- and peeking around back -- reveals a variety of new-fangled touches. For instance, those ain't bells on top, they're a pair of 1 1/2-inch, 3 1/2-watt omnidirectional speakers. The Tick Tock's also got an SD card reader, USB input, auxiliary line in and FM radio with up to two dozen presets. (Its sister models come with either an iPod dock or Bluetooth.) In other words, there's no excuse for not plugging in and waking up to your favorite tunes every day!

It Can Fly! Flying Alarm Clock: $19.99. Snooze alarms are a joke. Who hits theirs just once, sneaks in an extra eight to ten magical minutes and then springs out of bed?! Nobody, that's who. That's why the Flying Alarm Clock was invented. In conjunction with the intolerable alarm sounding, a little puddle jumper is propelled up and out of the base. The only thing that'll silence the racket involves you getting your sorry butt out of bed, retrieving the flying top and plunging it back into the base. If you can drift back to sleep after that adventure, you may want to consider changing your profession or moving to a different time zone.

The Pillow Alarm Happillow. Your pillow probably just sits there all white and fluffy and boring. Not Happillow. This brainchild of a group of Ubiquitous Computing students from Chalmers University in Sweden is soft like a regular pillow, but has a built-in digital alarm clock -- complete with an LED display! Just shake the pillow to access the menu. Tilt it forward or backward to turn the alarm on or off, or sideways to scroll through the menu that lets you set the time. The brightness of the LEDs adjusts automatically based on the darkness of the room and shuts off completely from the pressure of your melon. It also has a snore detection setting that will attempt to vibrate you away from sawing wood. The alarm consists of bright flashing lights, vibration and eventually some beeps. To shut off the alarm, just shake the pillow. You can see a video demo of a working prototype on the Happillow blog. The team (idea man Farshid Harandi and business developer Hamed Ordibehesht) told Discovery News that they're working out some of the kinks and working in some improvements in the way of a washable cover and embedded speakers. Eventually, the team believes they can offer this amazing product for under $100. But first they'll need investors. Not sure whether you'd be keen to fund such a high tech pillow? Maybe you should sleep on it...

The Portable Sound System iHome Audio iP49: $159.99. By definition, all clock radios keep time and play music. Admittedly, the iHome iP49 is fairly simple in terms of its clock. But its Bongiovi Acoustics and four neodymium compression drivers produce surprisingly nice, rich, bassy audio. Plus, because this tough speaker dock -- which also features equalizer controls and an auxiliary line in -- is portable, rechargeable and comes with a remote, it's a great system to fold up and take with you. The only downside is that for those times it's out rockin', you may have to dust your nightstand on a more regular basis.

Ready, Aim, Wake! Laser Target Alarm Clock: $24.95. In the same way that the Flying Alarm Clock physically gets you out of bed, the Laser Target Alarm Clock tests your initial mental acuity every day. Until you hit the bullseye with the laser gun, your ears pay the price. So you will quickly gather yourself together, aim and stay on target! And by that time, theoretically you'll be conscious enough to continue on with your day, preferrably not shooting at everything along the way.

You Can Do It! My Wake Up Call: 1 month subscription, $9.95; 6 months, $49.95; 12 months, $99.95. It's like the song says, waking up is hard to do. Or was that breaking up? Either way, we could all use a little extra motivation to pop out of bed in the morning and take on the world. Enter My Wake Up Call. Instead of letting thoughts of dread creep into your head as you lay there in bed, it helps you rise and shine with a can-do attitude about love, wellness, prosperity or self-esteem. It's available as an app, MP3s and on CDs. Hey, who couldn't benefit from a positive 5-minute message to start each day?

The Weather Projector & Charger Time & Wireless Charging Station+: $129. The face of this CES 2012 Innovations Honoree can tell you the current time, alarm time, weather forecast and temperature both indoors and out. It can also project the time and temperature, as well as focus and flip them 180 degrees, onto a wall or ceiling. And as if that weren't enough, this brainy multitasker can inductively charge Qi-enabled devices just by laying them on top of it. A rep from the company told Discovery News that this contemporary clock will be available for purchase from the Oregon Scientific website "likely by late this summer." At least that's the time they're projecting...

Timing is Everything SleepTracker Elite: $149. Sleeptracker watches, which have been around a few years, recently released a new analytics program that both existing and new Sleeptracker customers can download to their Mac or PC. So now, not only will the watch wake you at the most optimal time in your sleep cycle (based on your acceptable parameters), but you can connect it to your computer for all sorts of fancy feedback. Among its many insights, the software will tell you how much you slept based on when you fell asleep and woke up. But it also watches for interrupted sleep moments and light sleep stages, it can factor in a variety of issues that may have affected your sleep and it tracks your overall sleep health over time. READ MORE: Alarm Clock Syncs With Your Sleep Cycle