SWEET DREAMS

SLEEP­LESS NIGHTS WON’T JUST MAKE YOU TIRED. THEY CAN NEG­A­TIVELY IM­PACT YOUR HEALTH, YOUR HAP­PI­NESS, AND YOUR MOOD. READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN GET THE SLEEP YOU NEED

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - ME­TAB­O­LISM AND WEIGHT: By Mau­reen Far­rar

Sleep­less nights won’t just make you tired. They can neg­a­tively im­pact your health, your hap­pi­ness, and your mood. Read on to find out how you can get the sleep you need.

Agood night’s sleep is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant for your health. In fact, sleep is the cor­ner­stone of well­ness, and ranks in im­por­tance up there with eat­ing well and ex­er­cis­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, get­ting enough qual­ity sleep at the right times can help pro­tect your men­tal health, phys­i­cal health, qual­ity of life, and safety.

WHY SLEEP MAT­TERS

The way you feel while you’re awake de­pends on what hap­pens while you are sleep­ing. While we doze, our brains and bod­ies are hard at work, re­pair­ing us af­ter the day, and re­fu­el­ing us for the day ahead. When you’re sleep-de­fi­cient, it af­fects ev­ery­thing from prob­lem solv­ing to your mem­ory and mood and even your health. In his book Change Your Sched­ule, Change Your Life (Harper Wave, 2018), Dr. Suhas Kshir­sagar says, “If you don’t bal­ance your ac­tiv­ity with rest, you will de­plete your strength, weaken your di­ges­tive fire, and ul­ti­mately shorten your life span.”

HEART HEALTH: Sleep is in­volved in heal­ing and re­pair of your heart and blood ves­sels. Shortchang­ing your­self on sleep can lead to an in­crease in stress hor­mones such as cor­ti­sol, which com­pels your heart to work harder. Sleep dis­or­ders have been linked to an in­creased risk of heart dis­ease, high blood pres­sure, and stroke.

Sleep de­fi­ciency in­creases the risk of obe­sity. Sleep helps you main­tain a healthy bal­ance of hor­mones that make you feel hun­gry (ghre­lin) or full (lep­tin); when you don’t get enough shut-eye, your ghre­lin lev­els go up and lep­tin lev­els go down, mak­ing your feel hun­grier than when you’re rested. Not sleep­ing also im­pacts how your body re­acts to in­sulin, the hor­mone that con­trols your blood sugar. When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood sugar

in­creases, which may in­crease your risk of di­a­betes.

MOOD: When you’re tired you’re more prone to ir­ri­tabil­ity, im­pa­tience, and mood­i­ness. You’re also more vul­ner­a­ble to stress and anx­i­ety, which makes it harder to con­trol your emo­tions. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion, sleep-de­prived peo­ple were less likely to ex­er­cise, eat health­fully, and en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause of sleepi­ness.

LEARN­ING AND MEM­ORY: Stud­ies show that sleep im­proves learn­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing skills. Re­searchers found that sleep de­pri­va­tion leads to lower alert­ness and con­cen­tra­tion, which can af­fect your abil­ity to per­form ba­sic tasks. Re­search also sug­gests that dif­fer­ent phases of sleep play dif­fer­ent roles in con­sol­i­dat­ing in­for­ma­tion in me­mories. If your sleep is in­ter­rupted, it in­ter­feres with these cy­cles. Not get­ting your Zzzs im­pacts your abil­ity to fo­cus, which makes it more dif­fi­cult to pick up in­for­ma­tion.

DIS­EASE: Qual­ity sleep keeps your im­mune sys­tem strong, which keeps colds and flu at bay, and de­fends your body against other in­fec­tions. Dur­ing sleep, your im­mune sys­tem re­leases pro­teins called cy­tokines, some of which pro­mote sleep. Cer­tain cy­tokines need to in­crease when you have an in­fec­tion or in­flam­ma­tion, or when you’re un­der stress. Not get­ting

enough sleep may de­crease pro­duc­tion of these pro­tec­tive pro­teins. New re­search from the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health warns that los­ing just one night of sleep can lead to an im­me­di­ate in­crease in be­taamy­loid, a pro­tein in the brain as­so­ci­ated with Alzheimer’s dis­ease. In Alzheimer’s, be­taamy­loid pro­teins clump to­gether to form amy­loid plaques, a hall­mark of the dis­ease.

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU NEED?

We all know peo­ple who swear they can get by on four or five hours of sleep a night, but most of us need more than that. How much? Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion, “sleep needs vary across ages and are es­pe­cially im­pacted by life­style and health. To de­ter­mine how much sleep you need, it’s im­por­tant to as­sess not only where you fall on the ‘sleep needs spec­trum,’ but also to ex­am­ine what life­style fac­tors are af­fect­ing the qual­ity and quan­tity of your sleep.”

The na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion rec­om­mends 7 to 9 hours a night for adults aged 26 to 64, and 7 to 8 hours for adults 65 and older. But they sug­gest pay­ing at­ten­tion to your in­di­vid­ual needs by as­sess­ing how your feel on dif­fer­ent amounts of sleep. Are you pro­duc­tive, healthy, and happy on 7 hours of sleep? Or do you need 9 hours to get you mov­ing? Are you hav­ing health is­sue such as be­ing over­weight? Are you at risk for any dis­ease? Are you ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sleep prob­lems? Do you de­pend on caf­feine to get you through the day?

Most of us have for­got­ten what be­ing truly rested feels like. And we’re in­creas­ingly re­ly­ing on stim­u­lants like cof­fee and en­ergy drinks, alarm clocks, and ex­ter­nal lights— in­clud­ing those from elec­tronic de­vices—all of which are in­ter­fer­ing with our cir­ca­dian rhythm—our nat­u­ral sleep/ wake cy­cle.

HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

The good news is that you can re­verse the ef­fects of sleep­less­ness by get­ting more snooze time. Im­ple­ment these tips into your rou­tine and you’ll be on your way to a hap­pier and health­ier life.

1. STICK TO A SLEEP SCHED­ULE. Go­ing to bed and get­ting up at the same time ev­ery day — even on week­ends — helps to reg­u­late your cir­ca­dian rhythms and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.

2. PRAC­TICE A BED­TIME RIT­UAL. Take a bath, power down your elec­tron­ics an hour be­fore bed, jour­nal, or lis­ten to sooth­ing mu­sic. Sep­a­rate your­self from ac­tiv­i­ties that cause stress or anx­i­ety, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to fall asleep. Also, rit­u­als help sig­nal the body that it’s time to sleep.

3. EX­ER­CISE DAILY. Ex­er­cise boost the ef­fects of nat­u­ral sleep hor­mones such as mela­tonin. How­ever, work­ing out too close to bed­time can stim­u­late you, so give your­self a few hours be­fore bed.

4. KEEP COOL. You may want to crank up the heat and be cozy at bed­time, but you’ll sleep bet­ter if your bed­room is be­tween 60 and 67 de­grees. Temps in this range cause a drop in your core body tem­per­a­ture that ini­ti­ates sleepi­ness, say sleep ex­perts.

5. DIM THE LIGHTS. Too much light be­fore bed­time can sup­press mela­tonin lev­els, ac­cord­ing to a study in the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal En­docrinol­ogy. Dim the lights or turn off all un­nec­es­sary lights near bed­time to help you ease into sleep.

6. DE-STRESS. Stress is a stim­u­lus, and it ac­ti­vates the fight-or-flight hor­mones that will keep you up at night. Give your­self time to wind down be­fore bed. Learn a re­lax­ation tech­nique like med­i­ta­tion, or try deep breath­ing ex­er­cises.

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