Most people love sleep!!
We spend all day yawning at work and talking about how “exhausted” we are, and yet when it comes time to hit the hay, we find ourselves up into the wee hours of the night (usually staring at the dim glow of our smart phones) until we finally collapse in our fatigue. Unfortunately for us, studies have proven that lack of sleep has some serious negative consequences on our health.
Lack of sleep shows short-term effects such as decreased focus, inability to concentrate, poor memory, and increased irritability and sluggishness. Long-term effects include increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, poor mental health and even death.
The amount of sleep you need will change as you age. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, this is the amount of time you need to sleep in regards to your age:
Health Benefits of Sleep
An adequate amount of sleep can help boost the health of our body, brain, heart and so much more. David Rapoport MD, the director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program states “Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning.” But no more, because health researchers have discovered the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Better sleep habits improve memory. Sleep consolidation is the process by which short-term memories become long-term memories during sleep. Dr. Rapoport says that one is able to learn something by practice, but adequate sleep improves memory retention and overall learning ability.
Artists also benefit from a good night’s rest. When you get enough sleep, your brain is able to reorganize and restructure your memories as well as increase the ability to retain them. According to studies done by a Harvard University and Boston College, the emotional components of a memory are strengthened during sleep. This, in turn, boosts the creative process.
Athletes and fitness fanatics need extra doses of sleep in order to function properly. One study conducted at Stanford University found that football players who had more than 10 hours of sleep a night for 2 months increased their average sprint time. On top of that, they had less fatigue and more stamina. The same was found to be true among swimmers and tennis players.
Effects of Not Having Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep affects the rate at which you gain weight. Studies show that people who are better rested are more likely to lose weight.
Tips on How to Get Better Sleep
Getting more sleep starts with having a strict sleep schedule that you adhere to diligently. Pretty soon your internal clock will tell you when it is time to sleep and wake, ensuring you stay on schedule. It is also wise to have a bedtime routine that relaxes you. This will help you stay away from anything that causes excitement, stress, or anxiety. Try to turn off any electronics and dim any bright lights. The glow from your smart phone or television can confuse your mind into thinking it is still daylight. Instead read a book, meditate in bed, or listening to soothing music.
Try to avoid any daytime naps, especially those taken in the afternoon. A power nap might come in handy, but not at the expense of your sleep at night. Daily exercise has also been linked to a good night’s rest. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
It can be difficult to get to sleep on time in a world that demands our constant attention. Sometimes, the best solution is to unplug and get into the habit of falling asleep at an adequate time. Our memory, stamina, concentration, and long-term health improves when we make the choice to sleep the right amount of hours every night.
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