When you’re scrambling to meet the demands of the day, cutting back on sleep might seem like the only answer. Why sleep, after all, when so much can be accomplished during that time? What we may not realise is just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, so is sleep. The quality of sleep directly affects your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. Although sleeping is an activity that requires no effort, it delivers many benefits, so why deprive the mind and body?
While resting, the brain stays busy, overseeing a wide variety of biological maintenance that keeps the body running in top condition, preparing for the next day ahead. Without enough hours of curative sleep, an individual won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at an optimal level. Studies indicate that regularly skimping on sleep may result in major mental and physical breakdown. Regulate your sleeping hours and your energy and efficiency will go up. In fact, you’re likely to find that you actually get more done during the day than when you were skimping on shut eye.
The benefits of regularly getting quality sleep are numerous:
Keep Your Figure
Watching your weight can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can make you put on weight by drastically slowing your metabolism down, according to a study, researchers suggested getting plenty of sleep might prevent weight gain.
Live Longer, Live Better
Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan. In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night. Sleep also affects quality of life.
Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to infections. A study in 2009 found that sleeping fewer than
seven hours a night increased the risk of catching a cold.
Ability to Make Better Decisions
We’ve all heard of sleeping on a problem, in the hope that come morning the solution will be clear. Even if you don’t wake up with an answer, a good night’s sleep will equip your brain to assess the problem with a clearer and sharper mind and perspective.
Getting extra sleep can even improve athletic performance. Five swimmers were monitored as part of a study in 2008, they extended their nightly sleep times for six to seven weeks. At the end of the study the athletes could swim faster and react more quickly.
You have probably noticed that when you’re exhausted, you’re more likely to be cranky. It has been shown that not getting enough sleep affects a person’s ability to regulate emotions.
Simple Tips for Getting Better Quality Sleep:
• Go to sleep at the same time every day. A routine cues the body to settle down for the night.
• Avoid stimulants. Coffee, sugar, and chocolate are not conducive to good rest. If you must indulge, keep these confined to the earlier part of the day.
• Reduce the amount of stress in your life. There is a choice to how much we allow stressful things that are out of our control to affect us. Finding effective coping techniques is essential for good health. Deep breathing and yoga are some options to consider.
• Sip milk, not a martini. It takes an average person about an hour to metabolize one alcoholic drink, so if you have wine with dinner, finish your last sip at least two hours before bed.
• Eliminate light sources. The darker your room is, the more soundly you’ll sleep. Even a bright glow from electronics on your nightstand may pass through your closed eyelids and retinas into your hypothalamus – the part of your brain that controls sleep. This delays the brain’s
release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
• Stop smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant, so it prevents you from falling asleep. Smoking exacerbates sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, which can also stop you from getting a good night’s rest.
• Exercise, but not within four hours of bedtime. Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise keeps the body temperature elevated for about four hours, inhibiting sleep. When your body begins to cool down, however, it signals your brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin, so then you’ll get drowsy.
• Check your pillow position. The perfect prop for your head will keep your spine and neck in a straight line to avoid tension or cramps that can prevent you from falling asleep. If your neck is flexed back or raised, get a pillow that lets you sleep in a better-aligned position. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, consider using either no pillow or a very flat one to help keep your neck and spine straight.
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Source: The Expat Magazine March 2015
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