Research shows that not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, weight gain, cancer and even your risk of dying prematurely.
So why are so many health risks tied to adequate sleep? Well, it’s all about what happens during that crucial downtime, according to Amy Hendel, author of The 4 Habits of Healthy Families.
“Your metabolic rate slows down, allowing organs to work less intensively so they have recovery time,” Hendel says. “Thanks to increasing levels of HGH (human growth hormone), your cells have time to replenish, and even regenerate or repair, during those hours of complete rest. And as you move through your sleep phases, free radicals that are considered health-risk instigators are dissolved in your bloodstream.”
Getting enough sleep means a minimum of 7 to 8 hours. Get less than 5 or 6 hours of sleep on a regular basis and your risk of health issues increases dramatically, not to mention you’re unlikely to be looking your best. Here’s what’s happening in your body during dreamtime, says Hendel:
- Your skin benefits from the restorative nature of sleep. Since your top layer of skin has been shedding dead skin cells all day, sleep time is repair time.
- Production of melatonin is reduced when you get enough sleep. When you have elevated levels of this hormone, your risk of developing certain cancers is higher.
- Sleep helps keep stress hormones like cortisol at lower levels. Cortisol can drive up risk of hypertension and heart disease.
- Adequate sleep lowers your risk of having less stable blood sugar levels, so you lower your risk of diabetes.
- Get enough sleep and your hunger hormones – leptin and gherkin – are more likely to remain modulated. The result? A lower risk of weight gain.
- With enough sleep, your brain will be more likely to imprint the information you were exposed to during that day. You’ll also have better focus and concentration the next day.
- Sleep bolsters immunity – with a robust immune system, your body’s more capable of fighting off colds and other illnesses.
OK, but just how do you manage more shut-eye in a world that never seems to go to sleep? Start with these sleep hygiene tips from Hendel:
- Make a to-do list at least an hour before going to bed, so you can clear your mind.
- Refrain from watching TV or doing any other stimulating tasks for at least an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid doing work in bed, especially close to bedtime.
- Make sure you have adequate iron levels, since low levels of iron can interfere with good quality sleep.
- Keep to your wake-up and bedtime schedule, even on the weekends.
- Use visualization techniques, like walking down a long, dark tunnel or staircase, to help you fall asleep.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal close to bedtime, and avoid smoking and alcohol as well.
- Have a calming cup of decaffeinated tea, take a warm bath or listen to relaxing music.
Article taken in part from www.health.msn.com by Amy Ahlberg
All content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.
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