Things like eating healthy and staying active have an obvious impact on your overall health. But many don’t realize that sleep, too, can greatly affect your wellbeing.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep is a main pillar of a healthy lifestyle. It can boost your mood and offer bursts of energy and alertness, but its importance goes deeper still: Proper sleep can help with your memory, your creativity, even your ability to perform tasks. AASM recommends that adults get seven hours or more of sleep each night.
“Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up,” says Robin Bahl, CEO of Custom Benefit Consultants. Both her experience in the health insurance industry and her own success have led her to see—and reap—the benefits of getting quality sleep.
The National Institutes of Health, subdivisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, revealed in 2013 that sleep is essential not only for the brain, but also for things such as a healthy immune system, lower blood pressure, more balanced hormones, proper muscle recovery and a functioning respiratory system.
On the other hand, these organizations detail how lack of sleep can be detrimental as well. Over time, those that do not consistently get enough restful, restorative sleep often experience higher rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
“Not getting proper sleep can negatively impact your health and, in turn, your wallet,” Bahl explains. “In addition to things like diabetes and heart disease, things like stress and growth hormones can also be impacted when you don’t get enough rest.”
On top of that, NIH says that roughly 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues. Ranging from insomnia and sleep apnea to issues caused by medications, caffeine or distractions, these disorders can prevent you from experiencing the four to five full sleep cycles (complete with periods of both deep sleep and rapid eye movement) that you need each night.
So how can we ensure our sleep habits are healthy? AASM recommends going to bed around the same time each night and coming up with a bedtime routine. The organization also suggests avoiding things like caffeine and blue light devices before you lay down, and ensuring the temperature and noise level in your bedroom is ideal for relaxation. Working out regularly can also aid with sleep, though don’t do so right before bed. Try not to eat too close to bedtime, either.
When it comes to your routine, make sure you’re incorporating relaxing things like taking a bath, reading a book or listening to soft music. Then drift off to dreamland and reap the benefits.
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