How Healthy Sleep Habits Can Benefit Your Everyday Life
A bedtime routine is usually not emphasized as part of a healthy lifestyle, but incorporating healthy sleep habits can benefit you both physically and mentally. Sleep is an important part of any health routine and not only helps one feel more alert during the day, but impacts learning, work, driving and even fitness. Here are some of the perks that you can enjoy when using healthy sleep habits.
Healthy sleep habits can contribute to weight control, or can even help you lose weight. It turns out that those who sleep five or less hours of each night weigh more than others who sleep at least seven hours per night. And worse, one study from 2006, which was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, tracked about 70,000 women and found that those who only slept for five hours experienced weight gain over 20 years with 15% of them becoming obese.
Aside from causing weight gain, proper sleep can help you lose weight. Setting up a healthy bedtime routine as part of your fitness regimen can help you shed pounds. Getting a healthy number of hours of sleep may also help fight depression and increase daytime energy, and both can help you to better stick with your weight loss goals.
Adequate sleep means better brain function. Cognitive processes like attention, memory and decision-making skills are impacted by the number of hours you sleep. An average and healthy amount of time for sleep lies between 7 to 8.5 hours.
Sleep deprivation takes place when one is awake longer than 24 hours while consistently sleeping less than 6-7 hours each night is considered chronically sleep-deprived. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation leads to a loss of brain function and can interrupt memory, interfere with attention span and lead to poor decision making. (1)
One reason for this may be that during sleep, the brain clears itself of toxins that build during the waking hours. During sleep, a toxic brain protein called beta-amyloid decreases, leading researchers to believe that it is during the sleep cycle when this toxic protein is naturally removed from the brain. (2)
Workout recovery depends on sleep. In fact, it is in this restful state that protein synthesis takes place and your body rebuilds muscle tissue. At the same time, adequate sleep is crucial for that all-important release of growth hormone, which contributes to muscle repair and growth, bone building, and fat burning. And if your workouts are intense, you may need up to 9 or 10 hours of sleep.
Healthy sleep habits lead to lower blood pressure. It seems that people who sleep less than six hours each night have an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, even for those who sleep between five and six hours. Some believe it may be because your body regulates stress hormones as you sleep, which helps keep blood pressure regulated. Just 7-8 hours each night may even prove to be part of an effective blood pressure treatment. (3)
Adequate sleep will improve your mood. Many of us have experienced being irritable or cranky due to lack of sleep. It turns out there is good reason for the foul mood, asresearch is demonstrating that there is a close relationship between sleep and emotional health. When you can get adequate sleep, you feel well and experience positive emotional functioning, but inadequate sleep leads to an increase in negative emotions.
Beauty sleep is a real thing that can improve skin quality. In fact, not getting enough sleep can cause the stress hormone, cortisol, to flood the body leading to an increase in acne and other skin problems. At the same time, excess fluids can build up during sleep, creating puffiness, under eye bags, and skin blemishes. But while you are sleeping your internal processes are at work to balance and restore health by removing excess fluids from throughout the body, leaving you looking fresh and feeling great.
Strengthen your immune system with proper sleep. If you are sleep deprived, your body responds with higher stress hormones and internal inflammation, both of which can lead to a weakened immune system. Getting adequate sleep helps your body fight infections and stay healthy, but you need at least 7 to 9 hours each night for peak performance.
Getting enough hours of sleep not only increases alertness but can lower pain sensitivity. According to theAmerican Academy of Sleep Medicine, studies show that patients who slept 10 hours a night were more alert with an increased pain threshold. Not all of us can get 10 hours of sleep each night, but this certainly shows that more sleep may sharpen our thinking skills, which is helpful in many routine activities like driving.
Sleeping more improves memory. Yet more studies show the importance of healthy sleep habits and brain function. It turns out that the two sleep stages of REM and non-REM are linked to neuron growth and memory. And researchers point out that not only is adequate sleep important before activities such as test taking, but sleep is also important after the learning process to help you retain any new information. (4)
As you can see, healthy sleep habits have a positive impact on many areas of our lives and is important for overall health. The following tips will help you set up a healthy bedtime routine:
- · Avoid alcohol, especially close to bedtime
- · Don’t eat a large meal before bed
- · Exercise daily
- · Keep the room dark
- · Limit caffeine afternoon
- · Limit time on computer screens and phones
- · If you have trouble falling asleep, try using a guided meditation recording
- · Use a white noise machine to help fall or stay asleep
1 Alhola P, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007;3(5):553–567.
2 “How Sleep Clears the Brain.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 31 Mar. 2016,www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-sleep-clears-brain.
3 Pepin JL, et al. Hypertension and sleep: Overview of a tight relationship. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2014;18:509.
4 “Benefits of Sleep.” Benefits of Sleep | Healthy Sleep, Havard Medical, healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep.