Good Sleep for Great Health

by Alison McIrvin
Good Sleep for Great Health

We have all done it; life gets busy, demands on our time creep up, and the first thing that seems to go is a good night of sleep. We tend to think that a full 8 hours is optional, but not critical. Well change that thinking because repeated studies are showing that good sleep and enough of it is critical to many areas of our health.

Go beyond the mindset of “feeling rested” or “getting rid of the bags under my eyes” and learn why sleep is so important to your health and what you can do to be proactive about getting all you need.

Improve memory: Mental practice or consolidation occurs while sleeping. If you are learning new processes, a student, or just want your brain to stay its sharpest, good sleep habits are critical to your success.

Reduce Inflammation: Various illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and stroke are directly affected by inflammation. People who get less than six hours of sleep each night have higher levels of C-reactive protein. Blood pressure levels improve when insomnia sufferers successfully treat sleep issues.

Weight Loss Success: Your metabolism is tied to your sleep cycles. People who want to gain muscle and lose weight are much more successful when getting a good night of sleep. Appetite is also curbed due to hormonal balance that occurs during sleep.

Focus Better at Work: Insufficient concentration for problem solving, creativity, and judgment is directly attributed to a poor night of sleep

Drive Safely: Driving fatalities are caused more from sleeplessness than drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. DWS (driving while sleepy) reduces your reaction time and impairs decisions while behind the wheel.

Improved Relationships: Let’s face it, no one likes a grouch and a good night of sleep goes a long way in improving your mood, and with your improved moods, your relationships are bound to get that much better!

Are you sufficiently motivated for better shut-eye? If so, here are some great tips for improving your relationship with your pillow:

  • Make Love! Hormone production during intercourse boosts oxytocin and decreases cortisol (which prompts stress). Orgasm leaves you more relaxed and more likely to fall asleep faster and deeper.
  • Create a calming bedtime ritual that includes getting to bed earlier, soaking in a hot lavender bath, making your bedroom dark, lighting a candle, and taking time off of electronics at least an hour before bed time.
  • Workout! Exercise early in the day not only helps you to fall asleep easier, but also increase your time in deep sleep stages.
  • Avoid heavy meals late in the day. Your body has to work to digest a big meal and that energy will contribute to keeping you up.
  • Improve your melatonin levels by reducing your stress, increase exposure to sunlight and consume foods such as bananas, oats, almonds, rice, and tomatoes. There are some great melatonin supplements that can also help this along.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm. Not only can it affect our ability to fall asleep, but our normal sleep cycles can be thrown off and result in poor quality sleep.
  • Drink calming herbal teas especially in the evening to relax your nervous system.

Do you have some effective shuteye strategies that work for you? We would love to hear them. Until then, Bon soire! …zzzzzz…

Featured photo source: Flickr.

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