If you could just do ONE thing that would make you: look younger, slimmer and more beautiful; enjoy more energy and vitality; enjoy a dramatically improved mood; and increase your performance and success at life and work – would you do it?
Of course you would!
That one thing I’m talking about is a good night’s sleep.
I’m like a perpetual two-year-old who doesn’t want to go to bed, in case she might miss something fun. I procrastinate going to bed, whether it’s email, or TV, I’ll use almost anything.
Lately, I’m doing much better – because I’ve been studying the benefits of sleep on our health and life. I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve discovered about just how much sleep you truly need, and how to increase its quality and the benefits that you’ll receive.
1) Sleep & Weight Control
-if you’re a night owl and love to stay up late at night, you’re more likely to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter blues that are associated with carb cravings and winter weight gain
– if you don’t get enough sleep, your appetite control mechanism (and the hormones that govern it) can get thrown off kilter: one study showed that people who regularly sleep less than four hours a night were a whopping 73% more likely to be obese; people who slept six hours a night were 23% more likely to be obese – yikes!
2) Sleep & Health/Beauty
– chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infections (for example, people who sleep less than seven hours a night are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who sleep 7-8 hours a night)
– a lack of sleep is interpreted in your body as stress, causing the release of stress hormones that can raise your blood pressure and speed up aging
– getting good quality, deep sleep triggers release of growth hormone, which helps your cells repair and regenerate; it also promotes sex hormone release and boosts fertility in women (if you’ve been having trouble conceiving, have you been getting enough sleep?)
– There’s a reason they call it beauty sleep: your body repairs the daily damage done by UV light, while you’re sleeping – deep sleep helps your skin repair itself.
3) Sleep & Your Mood
– According to sleep guru Dr. William Dement, when he’s done studies that study people who catch up on their “sleep debt” (by sleeping around the clock, if necessary), their personalities and mood change dramatically, and they feel much more positive and less anxious and irritable
– Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, regularly, helps maintain serotonin levels in your brain and may prevent depression
4) Sleep & Success
– Napping has been shown to improve memory and brain function (one study showed that a 26 minute nap could improve a pilot’s performance by 34%!)
– if you get a good night’s sleep after learning something new, you’re far more likely to remember it in the next morning (forget those all-nighters to cram for exams!)
– Lack of sleep makes it harder to focus and pay attention, and studies have shown that if you don’t get enough, you’re prone to faulty decision-making and take more (unwise) risks. Your reaction time also slows down.
Tips for Better Sleep (and the benefits that come with it):
– Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night & try to stick to a regular schedule
– Take naps (but limit them to less than an hour, and don’t nap after 3 pm)
– Keep your bedroom cool, rather than too warm
– Turn away the face of your night clock, and don’t look at it when you wake up at night
– If you can’t sleep, rather than tossing and turning, get up and go to another room, do something for a while in low light, then return to bed when you start to get sleepy
– Reserve the bedroom for sleep and, well, you-know-what
– No TV in the bedroom!
– Avoid late night computer use as the light from the screen can “wake up” your brain
– Avoid caffeine and smoking 8 hours before bed (and avoid smoking, period!)
– Lose the alcoholic “nightcap” – it deprives you of REM and deep sleep
– Avoid exercising in the evenings, if you can
– Take some time to unwind before bedtime, with the lights turned down low – this will signal your body and mind that it’s time to go to bed
Many of these tips have worked wonders for the quality of my sleep, and many of the facts about sleep, health and beauty and worked wonders on my motivation to get to bed on time!