By Jenn Bruer

Last night I didn’t sleep a wink! I was tired but I lay there awake. Sleep is vital for our overall health and there are ample studies to go around that prove it. Our ancestors would regulate their sleep (circadian rhythm) with the natural light-dark cycles. We on the other hand, not-so-much! Our health is impacted not just by diet and exercise, but also by SLEEP:

  • Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates.
  • Sleep can contribute to depression.
  • Sleep deprivation causes inflammation. Inflammation may be the root cause of a whole host of problems from diabetes to arthritis.
  • Sleep deprivation can alter hormones that affect our appetite.
  • Sleep can lead to irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness (I may have all of the above today).
  • Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  • Alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells.
  • Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Here are some steps to ensure a good nights sleep:

  • Keep a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Eat healthy and get regular exercise.
  • Avoid exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine as these disrupt sleep quality.
  • Relax and unwind before going to bed. Develop a sleep “routine”. If you do the same things before you go to bed each night, it will train your body to get ready for sleep.
  • Make sure your room and bed are conducive to sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet.
  • Make sure your stomach isn’t too full before going to bed.

….definitely turning off the electronics early tonight.

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