7 Ways More Sleep Boosts Your Health

How do you feel when you wake up having gotten plenty of sleep the night before?  In a good mood, bouncy and energetic, ready to tackle your day?

Did you know that a good night's sleep can improve your memory and make you smarter? When you sleep your brain is sorting memories and the knowledge and skills you work at during the day get processed at night.

The benefits of a good night's sleep on our mind and body cannot be emphasized enough. Yet, there are many diseases, and common illnesses that could be minimized or improved if we only got enough quality sleep.

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Sleep Deprivation and Its Effects

1 | Your immune system becomes hampered. This not only means you can take longer to recover from an illness, but it raises the risk of increased chronic illness. So don't let yourself get run down. Get into the habit of getting the rest you need to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. That, in turn, improves your ability to fend off colds, the flu, and other infections.

2 | Poor sleep quality increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleeping helps heart vessels to heal and affects processes that maintain blood pressure and sugar levels. Skip the sleep you need and it can lead to a surge in stress hormones. Your heart works harder and doesn't get the rest it needs. Getting plenty of sleep fosters a state of relaxation that helps to reduce blood pressure.

3 | Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of respiratory diseases. A nighttime disorder can interrupt your sleep lowering the quality of that sleep. As you wake up through the night these experiences cause sleep deprivation. This leaves you more vulnerable to respiratory infections and can worsen existing respiratory diseases.

4 | Lack of sleep can affect weight. Hormones that control feelings of hunger or fullness are affected by sleep. When you sleep less you eat more and have more difficulty burning the calories. "Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat of their weight loss than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)"

From <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html#have-a-healthy-weight-0>

5 | Sleep deprivation causes the release of insulin. Which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by affecting how your body produces glucose. What happens, with ongoing sleep loss, less insulin is released after you eat. But, your body secretes more stress hormones, which while helping you to stay awake makes it more difficult for the insulin to do its job.

6 | Lack of sleep is a factor in stress headaches. If you get stress headaches or migraines getting plenty of sleep will help to keep them away. Sleep deprivation plays an indirect role in making your head hurt. Stress and anxiety can bring on a headache even if you are properly rested. Keep in mind that too much sleep can also cause headaches.

7 | Insufficient sleep can affect hormone production, testosterone levels, and sperm count in men. It can wreak havoc with your emotions, making both of you too tired, or just plain uninterested. Good quality sleep keeps testosterone levels high. Cheat yourself out of sleep, and you cheat yourself out of great sex.

For further reading check out this article Health Benefits of Sleep.

7 Quick Tips to Sleep Better

  • Avoid alcohol before bed
  • Avoid caffeine after 5 pm
  • Don't eat late in the evening
  • Exercise during the day
  • Optimize your bedroom (light, noise, temperature)
  • Take a relaxing bath or shower
  • Try to sleep and wake at consistent times

Sleep is just one part of improving and maintaining good over-all health. Nutrition and exercise are also pivotal. I think of these 3 things as the most basic self-care habits. Yet of the three, sleep can be the easiest to do. It takes little thought or pre-planning in most cases, unlike menu planning or an exercise schedule. So take any Mom's advice, and get to bed at a decent time. You'll thank yourself the next morning.

I know a good night's sleep leaves me feeling refreshed, and on top of the world. But the best part is that my day just seems smoother and any problems that arise are easier to manage. So let me know in the comments how you feel after a good night's rest or let me know if any of this is helpful to you.