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All I Have to Do Is Dream

By Karen Kier
Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

The Everly Brothers released their hit single “All I Have to Do Is Dream” in 1958.  This followed their 1957 hit “Wake Up Little Susie.” The songs were written by the prolific duo of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.  The legendary Chet Atkins played the guitar for The Everly Brothers on both singles. The Everly Brothers were known as an American rock duo and as pioneers of country rock.  

“All I Have to Do Is Dream” was the 141st song on Rolling Stone’s top 500 greatest of all time.  The Everly Brothers were inducted into the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.  In 2001, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The duo reunited in 1983 and toured with artists including Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. The brothers went into the studio to write new music with Sir Paul McCartney, who was a big fan of their music.  

When we sleep, when do we dream?

There are four stages of sleep including three stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep where the body starts to relax and heart rate and eye movements slow down.  The fourth stage is rapid eye movement sleep (REM), which occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep.  This stage of sleep consolidates memories and where dreaming usually occurs.  A good night's sleep will cycle through these four stages. Sleep is an important element for overall health and wellness.  

The amount of sleep needed varies from 14-17 hours for a newborn to 7-8 hours for an older adult.  Most teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per day with adults requiring 7-9 hours.  An inability to reach these goals can have adverse health consequences.  A lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep increases the risk for obesity, type II diabetes, increased blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and poor mental health.  

Scientists have evaluated the ability to catch up on sleep when you have missed a full night’s sleep.  The studies indicate while it is possible to catch up on sleep, it is hard to do.  Sleep experts have found it takes four days to catch up on one hour of missed sleep.  

So, what about napping to help with a lack of sleep at night or to catch up?

If we had asked this question before 2022, experts would have indicated that napping had some overall health benefits.  More recent evidence suggests napping may signal other health issues.  

Research published by the Alzheimer’s Association demonstrated a possible connection between daytime napping and the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia in elderly adults.  This study followed the participants for up to 14 years and monitored their napping frequency using a smart-watch device recording sleep patterns.  When researchers analyzed the data, two strong relationships were discovered.  The more frequently someone napped during the daytime was related to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.  In addition, the length of the naps during the day was reflective of cognitive function decline. This study observed behavior over time and was not designed to determine if napping caused dementia, but rather that napping could indicate other physiological changes caused by a cognitive decline.

The American Heart Association (AHA) published a study in the journal Hypertension on July 25, 2022 evaluating napping frequency with health outcomes in middle-aged European participants.  The study evaluated 358,451 individuals with no history of hypertension or stroke from a data bank.  Those who usually napped compared to those that never napped had an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and stroke.  

The researchers proposed that napping itself was not harmful, but the need for the nap due to poor sleep quality was the real issue.  This confirms previous studies on the importance of sleep quality.

So, how do we improve sleep quality?

The AHA has a program called Life’s Simple 7 tool, which is a good educational piece on healthy lifestyles to promote heart health. Based on the science behind the importance of high quality sleep, the AHA has now changed this to the Life’s Essential 8 tool (, which includes sleep.  The AHA provides good advice to improve the quality of sleep including a guide to the essentials of good napping.  

You may have seen television commercials promoting temperature control within a mattress to improve sleep.  Well, a 2022 study in the Journal of Sleep Research found controlling temperature while we sleep by using a dual-temperature zone mattress and a selective thermal stimulating pillow improved overall sleep quality for patients. So, they do have some science behind them, but realize this was only a study of 11 subjects.  More science to be done!

Remember it is not that napping is bad but rather napping may be an indicator of poor sleep quality or a change in cognition.  The key is to work on sleep quality with 7-9 hours of sleep!

Contact a healthcare professional to talk about options to improve sleep quality including sleep habits and medications. So, all you have to do is dream!

ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 including boosters Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Call the pharmacy for an appointment for other time slots. The ONU HealthWise pharmacy offers Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Call the pharmacy to get more information.  

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