Benefits of good sleep

Approximately 45 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation. We often think it’s a trade-off  — more time for less sleep  — but the quality of that time suffers when we are sleep-deprived. The benefits of getting adequate sleep far outweigh the thrill of watching one more hour of TV or surfing the Web. The hormones that regulate your appetite and blood sugar get out of whack when you are sleep-deprived. Getting a better night’s sleep will help you lose or maintain your weight more effectively. You’ll also feel more even-keeled emotionally and better able to handle the challenges of the day. Your cognitive performance will improve, including memory and creative problem-solving. Try these simple steps to improve your quality of sleep.

Take time to wind down
So many of us go-go-go until it’s time for bed, but it’s important to take time to wind down before sleeping. It signals to your body that it’s time to slow down and rest. Establish a relaxing nighttime ritual, such as listening to soothing music, deep breathing or meditation. Avoid stimulating activities such as e-mail, talking on the phone and watching TV. Some guidelines: no e-mail after 8 p.m. and no TV or phone calls after 9.

Darker is better
Your body regulates your sleep cycle in response to the presence and absence of light, so dim the lights as evening approaches. Try getting ready for bed by candlelight. When you’re ready to sleep, make sure your room is as dark as possible. Light can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep.

Put your thoughts to bed
We all need time to process our day, but bed is not the place to do it if you want to sleep well. At least two to three hours before bed, take 10 to 15 minutes to record your thoughts in a journal. This very effective technique will capture what’s on your mind so you don’t lie awake thinking about it. Tell yourself you’re putting your thoughts to bed so that you can go to bed.

No sugar or alcohol before bed
These are stimulants that cause your adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which wakes you up. If you need a snack before bed, make it protein. Try some turkey or cheese.

Try to get more sleep
Try an experiment. Get an extra hour or two of sleep every night for a week and see how you feel. You’ll notice the difference!

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