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The Impact Sleep Has on Your Health

Sleeping seven to eight hours a night lowers your risk for developing obesity and high blood pressure, NHLBI studies reveal. Besides reaping these physical benefits, adopting a quality sleep pattern yields mental health perks. You will be amazed at the various ways that your sleep hygiene impacts your mental and physical health.

Mental Health

A sleep deficit impairs the following aspects of your mental health: mood, memory, concentration, and judgment. Your mood becomes irritable, depressed, or anxious. Memory and concentration-wise, you may forget information that you studied for a test. With judgment, you experience slower reaction times and decreased problem-solving skills, putting you at risk for making major mistakes.

Physical Health

1. Weight/Metabolism

Did you know that reduced sleep is often the culprit behind a sudden increase in pounds? Studies have found that decreased sleep leads to increased junk food consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, eating at night disrupts the liver’s digestion of fat that normally occurs during night-time fasting.

2. Immune System

Interestingly, vaccinated individuals who sleep longer fight infection better than those who stay up late at night? This is due to the immune system functioning at a lower capacity at night.

3. Heart and Circulatory System

Non-rapid-eye-movement sleep slows down your heart rate and blood pressure. Therefore, staying up late overworks your heart and pulse, making you more susceptible to hypertension and coronary artery disease.

4. Hormones

Decreased sleep increases the hormone, ghrelin, which promotes hunger and decreases the hormone, leptin, which satiates appetites. Especially important, the insulin hormone regulates blood glucose. When you rob yourself of sleep, your blood sugar rises, putting you at risk for developing diabetes.

How to Get Better Sleep

Are you ready to improve your sleep hygiene? Here are some key practices to establish:

1. Control what, how much and how often you eat.

Avoid eating heavy meals, spicy, acidic, sugary and fatty foods, as well as caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Promote sleep by eating fatty fish and tart cherries as your last meal.

The Sleep Foundation reports that you should leave a two-to-four-hour interval between eating and sleeping. Eating dinner too close to bedtime triggers digestion issues such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, eating light snacks before bedtime is beneficial in stabilizing blood sugar, helping you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep.

2. Limit screen time an hour before bedtime.

According to sleep clinicians, digital screen devices emit blue light that interferes with the ability to fall asleep. Specifically, blue light reduces the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that signals the body when to fall asleep.

Replace your screen time with non-stimulating activities such as reading a book, listening to music, and journaling.

3. Exercise at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

4. Choose a proper mattress.

The Cleveland Clinic reports that you improve your sleep quality by 55% by sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. Mattresses should be changed every 10 years or sooner, if damaged, to prevent back problems.

5. Develop a consistent sleep routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Use reminders and alarms to aid you with this.

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