6 Amazing Health Benefits Of Sleep And How To Get More Of It

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Published: March 31, 2014


With life’s hectic demands and the constant scramble to meet deadlines, it is no wonder we often sacrifice snooze time to gain more time. Your dreams are worth more than your sleep, right? Not quite! The benefits of sleep go well beyond banishing dark circles. In fact, when I meet with clients and they tell me they don’t sleep, or don’t sleep well, it sets off pounding alarms in my head. Adequate sleep is critical to physical and mental wellbeing. Seriously. Sleep is a basic human need. Without adequate sleep, all your bodily functions are affected, some more than others but still, all. It is when we are asleep that our brains and bodies replenish themselves.

6 Wonderful Health Benefits of Sleep

  1. Improved mental focus and memory. A recent study showed that university student who don’t sleep enough, do not perform as well as those you got their sleep. Moms, this one is for you. Children with poor sleep patterns have issues with paying attention and information retention. These two things are key to doing well in school. Adults are no different. It doesn’t take too long for the effects of sleep deprivation to become evident in your waking hours. In fact, the loss of just an hour of sleep has been proven to reduce creativity, and problem-solving skills as well as dull concentration and memory retention.
  2. Improves physical performance. If you play sports or are into fitness (and you should be), sleep is one way to improve your overall performance. Sharp reflexes and increased energy are just two of several effects of sound sleep that positively affect your physical performance.
  3. Curbs inflammation. Heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and arthritis are linked to inflammation. Sleep deprived people – those with 6 or less hours of sleep per night – have higher levels of inflammatory proteins and are at higher risk of heart disease. A study showed that blood pressure and inflammation issues can be reduced by improving quality of sleep.
  4. Reduces Stress and Depression. It is a vicious cycle – stress leads to poor sleep habits and poor sleep habits lead to stress. When you are well rested, your focus is sharp and consequently productivity is high. When you get things done and done well, you worry less and have less stress and related depression.
  5. Improves cardiovascular health. Sleep and stress have a significant impact on your cardiovascular health. Sleep reduces stress which is linked (quite strongly) to blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Have I convinced you yet?
  6. Helps burn fat. What? That’s right. Snooze and you lose … quite literally. Your sleep quality determines your energy levels during your waking hours. It also affects your metabolism, cortisol levels, and insulin sensitivity.

So, how much sleep should you get? In truth sleep requirements vary from person to person but on average, adults need between 7.5 and 9 hours. Remember that it is not just how long you sleep but how well you sleep. Here are some quick tips to improve your slumber:

  1. Off with technology – Shut it all off including iPads, laptops, TVs, phones, and also lights. Melatonin, the sleep regulating hormone, comes out to play in the dark.
  2. Say no to caffeine and alcohol – Caffeine can prevent your sleep; while alcohol in many cases interrupts sleep.
  3. Get out and about – During the day, get some sunlight and exercise. Your body will start to need to wind down for bed time.
  4. Be regimented with your sleep – Find out what bedtime works best for you to get between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep and stick to it. This doesn’t just mean going to bed at your appointed time but also, waking up, even if you have some time to kill.
  5. Lighten your plate at night – Eating a full plate of jollof rice at 9pm equals insomnia. If you get hungry late at night, try snacking on some berries, nuts and seeds or eggs.
  6. Exercise when the sun comes up – If like me, you have trouble winding down after a good session at the gym, perhaps you should be training at the crack of dawn.
  7. Give your body some gentle encouragement – Chamomile tea, Epsom salt baths, magnesium supplements, and relaxation exercises are some great ways to calm the body and mind.

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About Orjiugo Oguguo

Orjiugo Oguguo is an engineer with a passion for fitness. She is an ACE certified health coach and also has fitness certifications in Schwinn, Les Mills Body Combat, Body Pump, and CXWorx. Follow her on Twitter @The_Orjiugo and Instagram #The_Orjiugo.

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