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For many of us, there’s nothing better than slipping under the covers after a long day and drifting off to sleep. Others see sleep as an inconvenience, whether it’s because they have a busy schedule or just don’t sleep well. The truth is, sleep is one of the most important parts of each and every day, and sleep deficiency has many negative effects on your body. Fortunately, there are ways to get better sleep.
If you’ve ever raised or babysat a toddler, you know how sleep deficiency can affect moods. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t have time to relax and prepare you for the day ahead. This is especially a problem in children and teens.
When you get plenty of sleep, your problem-solving skills, attentiveness, and mood are all increased.
2. Improved Learning
Have you ever just felt like your brain wasn’t working right? That may have been because you weren’t getting enough sleep. Your entire body calms itself down while you sleep, restoring power to deal with whatever awaits you when you wake up. Sleep deprivation can cause you to have trouble understanding more complex concepts and staying focused.
3. Weight Control
Most people think of sleep as mostly affecting the mental health side of things, but it actually has quite the impact on physical health, too. Studies have shown that teens who sleep more often are less likely to be obese. A lack of sleep has also been shown to increase the risk of obesity in older age groups because it cuts fat loss. Contrary to what all of your instincts may tell you, you could actually kick-start your weight loss by adding an hour or two of sleep each night.
4. Heart health
One of the most important roles sleep plays in your health is keeping things functioning optimally and repairing them if they aren’t. When you close your eyes and fall asleep, your body goes to work on your blood vessels and heart, making sure they’re pumping away since you’ll need them in the morning. Because of this function, there is actually a link between sleep deficiency and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Perhaps the most noticeable effect of getting enough sleep is an increase in productivity. Sleep deficiency bogs your whole body down. That doesn’t just go for your muscles, either—your brain needs plenty of rest and will begin to function poorly if you’re not getting the sleep you need. Adding an extra hour or two of sleep to your nightly routine has been shown to increase productivity, whether you’re at work, at home with the family, or hitting the books for an important exam.
What Can You Do?
For some of us, sleep deficiency is a choice we make in order to extend our nights. For others, it’s an ongoing battle that involves trying countless “sleep remedies” and lying awake in bed for hours on end. Thankfully, there are a few simple steps you can take to sleep better.
The first step—and the most obvious one—is to buy a great pillow and a good mattress. Mattresses are fairly expensive, which leads to people reusing mattresses for decades on end. Not only is this gross, it can seriously hamper your sleep. Look for a mattress with technology that fits your needs, whether it be a firm design that provides cool airflow or a soft mattress with added edge support.
Another important factor in getting enough sleep is your nightly routine. Studies have shown that exposing yourself to bright lights before you go to bed can hinder your sleep. Take some time to relax without the bright, blue light of your television or smartphone before you go to bed.
Napping can also hurt sleep. If you’re a frequent napper, knock it off—your mornings will thank you.
Other ways to improve sleep include working out in the afternoon, avoiding large meals in the evening, and staying away from alcohol before bed.
The good news about all this is that once you start improving your sleep routine, it will come naturally to you. Your body works on a sort of natural clock which you have the power to set. Using these tips, you can improve your sleep habits and love each day a little bit more.