Writing by Melissa

How Sleep Affects Your Health

 

In a culture where connections are easily made, the list of things that elude you can be very small. However, when sleep is on the top of the list, nothing seems to function as it should. Let’s explore what happens when you lack sleep, how much you need, the benefits of a good night’s rest and helpful tips for achieving the restful sleep you need.

Not Enough Sleep

The lack of sleep will wreak havoc on your mind and body. A good night’s rest won’t erase illness from your life, however many studies have shown that less than six hours of sleep per night will increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Not only does your body need sleep, but your brain benefits from a normal circadian rhythm too. And, without it, you will not be as alert, creative or productive as you could be. Too little sleep can also increase your risk of depression and an inability to deal well with stress.

So, we know we need sleep, but how much do we really need? Our body re-energizes and recuperates during sleep. There have been many theories on the number of hours of sleep you need. According to the National Sleep Foundation, both young adults, aged 18 years to 25 years and adults, aged 26 years to 64 years need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Now you know you need it and how much you need, exactly how do you get a good night’s sleep you ask? Here are three tips to getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Environment – Set a bedtime schedule, and stick to it, even on the weekends and holiday. This schedule should consist of going to bed at the same time every night, a relaxing bedtime ritual and a cool, quite dark bedroom. No screen time.
  • Daytime Habits – During the day, make sure you get plenty of exercise, this will help ensure you are tired. Manage stress and try to deal with it early in your day, so that you are not taking it to bed with you. And, even on your most tired days, limit daytime naps.
  • Consumption – Avoid stimulants two to three hours before bed. This includes caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and chocolate. Even though these can feel relaxing, studies show an increase in stimulation after consumption will make it harder to stay asleep all night. Limit heavy meals before bed. A nice light snack is okay, but try to eat dinner in the early evening so that your stomach doesn’t keep you awake.

Once you start using these new tips, you will notice the benefits of a good night’s sleep, including increased health, mental sharpness and daytime performance and better weight control

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