Adequate sleep is key for healthy living. It’s as important as a nutritious diet and regular exercise. That said, it’s easy to take it for granted. In our effort to squeeze more things into our days, sleep often gets neglected. “Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning,” says David Rapoport, MD, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program.
No longer taking a backseat, sleep has become a hot topic of wellness research and has been declared a critical component of healthy living. “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better—it’s pretty clear,” explains Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City.
The next time you’re considering a marathon, late-night Facebook session, consider these sleep benefits:
Boosts memory, learning and creativity. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that sleep helps the brain by strengthening memory and creativity.
Improves athletic performance and recovery. A Stanford University study found that athletes in different sports who sleep 10 hours had less daytime fatigue and more stamina. While you may not be able to sleep 10 hours a night, increasing your sleep time to 7 – 9 hours can certainly help.
Facilitates weight loss and maintenance. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who sleep better lost more fat and felt less hungry.
Assists with muscle growth. Sleep helps your muscles to repair after strenuous training. Repair is necessary for growth. Without sufficient rest, muscle building with be slow.
Improves mood and decreases depression. Sleep helps individuals to be more patient and have a good attitude. A lack of sleep contributes to depression.
Lowers stress. Sleep enables your body to better deal with stressors. Stress produces inflammation, which contributes to a variety of health problems.
Now you know the importance of sleep, I recommend you do the following:
1) Get 7 – 10 hours of sleep each night.
2) Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, if it is possible.
3) Avoid stimulants within eight hours of going to bed.
4) Avoid excessive consumption of fluids before going to bed.
5) Turn off your television, computer and lights.
6) Establish a relaxing routine to go bed. Try to avoid using computer within two hours of bed.